Category Archives: Syrian Politics

The story of an old joke – a clarification

When I referred in my post yesterday to Hady Al-Bahra’s appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart,  I was not suggesting that he was wrong in doing so, I was merely explaining that, because it happened now and not two years ago, the impact of such an appearance will be minimal, and that we should not raise our hopes too much. After all, American officials are talking about a multi-year plan, even in connection with the upcoming training of the FSA.

General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Coalition to Counter ISIL
General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Coalition to Counter ISIL

Continue reading

Collateral Damage

The Syrians, yes, even those who are now in danger of being harmed as a result of U.S. strikes, would have been much more forgiving, had the strikes come earlier and had Assad being in the visor as well, and not only ISIS and Al-Nusra. But seeing that the strikes came so late in the game and only in response to a potential threat to U.S. security, and that there do not seem to be any plans for targeting Assad and his loyalist militias as well, Syrians in target regions have little reason to be sympathetic to America’s plans. Even the Kurds, and after their initial euphoria, seem skeptical now, because ISIS’ positions around Kobani remain untouched, and its assault on the Kurdish town is still unfolding.

It pays to do this little comparison to see why the rebels are so focused on Assad, despite the world's obsession with ISIS.
It pays to do this little comparison to see why the rebels are so focused on Assad, despite the world's obsession with ISIS.

Continue reading

Obama has ignored Syria for too long: it's the rise of Isis, stupid – now help

Comment is free | theguardian.com.

This column was ranked one of the five best columns for Monday August 25 by thewire.com. 

It’s time for him to do the right thing by arming moderate rebels, imposing a no-fly zone and expanding military action beyond Iraq

Barack Obama is embarking on a global course correction, if not an outright reversal: the policy of “don’t do stupid stuff” – the non-interventionism so praised by the Farid Zakarias and Tom Friedmans of the world – is getting forced out, albeit in the typical Obama fashion of admitting nothing and never going fast or far enough.

Blanket, cold-hearted realism doesn’t work when networked, cold-hearted terrorism does. Photo ilustration: DonkeyHotey / Flickr via Creative Commons
Blanket, cold-hearted realism doesn’t work when networked, cold-hearted terrorism does. Photo ilustration: DonkeyHotey / Flickr via Creative Commons

Continue reading

Notes on Current Developments in Syria: January 11, 2014

The battle between Islamist rebel groups and Al-Qaeda’s affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is intensifying, but there is more going on than the increasing number of casualties and bodies of the injured piling up in the hospital.

The way the battle is unfolding indicates that carving up territories is what’s stake at this stage than achieving a straight out victory of one side over the other. This might not have been the intention at the beginning, but this is where things seem to be heading at this stage on account of the logistics involved, the actual military capabilities of each side, and the involvement of the regime in the matter, which, as expected, is working out in favor of ISIS, in the city of Elbab north of Aleppo, for instance, the regime resumed bombardment of the city as soon as ISIS was kicked out, allowing ISIS troops to halt their retreat, regroup and lay siege to the city. This may not be highlighted by the media at this stage, but this is what activists on the ground are reporting.

Continue reading

Notes on Current Developments: January 7, 2014

In a move that will afford the Obama Administration with another opportunity to claim progress even as the genocide continues, the first batch of chemical weapons leaves the port of Lattakia.

Meanwhile, Islamist rebels continue to fight against ISIS in North Syria. But the real story, often missed by the media, is that ISIS fighters are actually avoiding prolonged clashes by surrendering their positions to their colleagues in Al-Nusra Front, the original Al-Qaeda affiliate in the country whose leader is busy trying to broker a peace accord between the different factions. As ISIS continues to execute its prisoners though, especially the pro-democracy media activists whom it ironically accuses of being agents for America (but at least one of these murdered activists was known for his pro-ISIS views), the move is unlikely to succeed. It will, nonetheless, further consolidate Al-Nusra standing in the rebel community not only as an effective fighting force but also as an arbitrator of disputes and a reliable governing body. But Al-Nusra's other rival in the country, Ahrar Al-Sham, seems to have reached a ceasefire deal with ISIS.

Other developments of note: the UK grants asylum to 1,500 Syrians, and Neo-Nazis in Bulgaria wage war against Syrian refugees in that country as part of the ongoing Fascist revival taking place in Europe.