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Syria Media Roundup (August 9)

[Image of students in besieged Eastern Ghouta studying underground. Image by Dimashqi Lens via flickr] [Image of students in besieged Eastern Ghouta studying underground. Image by Dimashqi Lens via flickr]

 [This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to syria@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]

            

Inside Syria

What will happen to Raqqa after ISIL? (1 August, 2017) As ISIL is being driven out of its de facto capital in Syria, Raqqa faces an uncertain future.

Ryan Lock death: Soldier 'turned gun on himself' while fighting IS (2 August, 2017) A "heroic young man" who fought with Kurdish forces in Syria killed himself to avoid falling hostage to Islamic State (IS) militants, an inquest heard.

First on CNN: Russia & Syrian regime seeking to poach US-backed fighters (3 August, 2017) So far the coalition says there has only been "less than a handful" of defections. Last week CNN reported hat a US-backed rebel group had balked at the coalition's insistence that it only fight ISIS not the Assad regime.

From fighting regime to anti-IS, Syria rebel traces US policy shifts (4 August, 2017) From special forces officer to brigade-hopping rebel, Abu Jaafar has seen Syria's uprising from all angles. But after years of setbacks, culminating in cuts to US support, he feels disillusioned.

What Happened to Life in Hama City After the Regime Removed its Security Checkpoints? (4 August, 2017) The removal of security barriers might have resulted in a return to normalcy in Hama. But for others the checkpoints provided a source of income and a means to avoid the fighting fronts, Sada al-Sham writes.

Syrian fighters, refugees arrive in rebel-held Idlib (4 August, 2017) Buses carrying fighters and refugees arrive in Idlib and Hama provinces from Lebanese border town of Arsal.

Syrian army takes ISIL-held town of al-Sukhna in Homs  (5 August, 2017) Monitor says government troops have taken last ISIL-held town in Homs as army advances towards ISIL strongholds in east.

Rebel groups weigh options in Syria's east (7 August, 2017) Armed opposition groups from Syria's eastern province of Deir ez-Zor are working on how to retake their city from the Islamic State before the Syrian regime does without having to ally with Kurdish forces.

US-led coalition air raids kill 29 civilians in Raqqa (8 August, 2017) The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 14 out of 29 killed by US-led air strikes were members of the same family.

 

Regional and International Perspectives

The dragon and the lion: China's growing ties with Syria (2 August, 2017) China has benefitted from the bickering between Russia, US and Turkey - emerging as a dominant player in Syria in terms of political and economic diplomacy.

Why One of Syria’s Biggest Rebel Groups Reordered Its Leadership (3 August, 2017) Ahrar al-Sham’s decision to replace its top command this week offers a glimpse at how the outgunned rebel group is adjusting to the ascendancy of al-Qaida-linked factions in Syria, and the changing nature of the insurgency against president Bashar al-Assad.

Khan Sheikhoun, and the Persistence of Conspiracy Theories and Sarin (3 August, 2017) Much like the August 21, 2013 Sarin attacks in Damascus, the April 4, 2017 Khan Sheikhoun Sarin attack has given birth to a range of theories about what did or did not happen.

Opinion: Its End Has Come, But Where Will ISIS Go? (4 August, 2017) Al-Araby's political analyst Salama Kila paints ISIS as an imperialist tool used as by the powerful as a pretext for invasion and conquest.

Burning Raqqa (5 August, 2017) Laura Gottesdiener writes that US military operations in Syria are looking less like a battle against ISIS and more like a war on civilians.

Rouhani: Solution to Syria Crisis is Through Dialogue, Eradicating Terrorism (7 August, 2017) SANA reports on swearing in ceremony for Iranian leader's second presidential term in the capital Tehran.

How a Free Syrian Army Unit Uncovered the Rebels’ Israeli Connection and Switched Sides (8 August, 2017) Rania Khalek writes that before the Golan Brigade was targeted for destruction by Israel and Al Qaeda, it was allied with them.

 

Policy and Reports

Isis: UN study finds foreign fighters in Syria 'lack basic understanding of Islam' (4 August, 2017) Research shows economic factors and 'lack of meaning' in life makes warzone attractive.

Decolonising Syria's so-called 'queer liberation' (5 August, 2017) Razan Ghazzawi writes on Rojava's new international LGBTQI brigade, the "war on terror" and the Western left's erasure of local struggles.

The US Is Far More Deeply Involved In Syria Than You Know (6 August, 2017) The Trump administration has increased its military and political support for Syrian forces as they fight their way into the ISIS-held city of Raqqa. But many fear what will follow when ISIS is eventually ousted.

Veteran prosecutor to quit UN Syria human rights probe (6 August, 2017) Carla del Ponte said a lack of political backing from the UN Security Council had made the job impossible.

The Men Who Trade ISIS Loot (6 August, 2017) The middlemen who buy and sell antiquities looted by Islamic State from Syria and Iraq explain how the smuggling supply chain works

U.S.-Led Coalition Hit Raqqa Hospital with Phosphorus Bombs: Red Crescent Deputy (7 August, 2017) Local activists have also backed relief worker's claims over the coalition's use of internationally banned weapons.

Syrian National Coalition President to Resign: Sources (7 August, 2017) Opposition leader Riad Seif will surrender his role as chief of the Istanbul-based political bloc, sources reveal to Zaman al-Wasl.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham plots its next move in northern Syria (7 August, 2017) Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is consolidating its influence in northern Syria, mainly in Idlib, and trying to position itself as a de facto interlocutor in political agreements reshaping the country.

 

Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media

Laughing at ISIS to defeat them (21 July, 2017) Deep in the outskirts of Mumbai, India, tucked away in a small conference room among dozens of buildings known as Bollywood's "Film City," the US government is implementing a unique, and until now, unknown counterterrorism program aimed at diminishing the online influence of terror groups like ISIS - by making fun of them.

A Play About Syria as a Country in a Coma (23 July, 2017) In the play “While I Was Waiting,” Omar (Mustafa Kur), a former telecom worker from the less affluent and besieged Damascus suburbs, gives us the sum of his life in days—10,749 to be precise.

Bribes, graft and the cost of moving cash in Syria’s war economy (27 July, 2017) International aid organizations can no longer fund more than a dozen hospitals and medical centers in the east Damascus suburbs because of rebel infighting that is paralyzing money transfer operations into the encircled opposition enclave. 

Abandoned zoo animals from Syria's Aleppo find refuge in Turkey (1 August, 2017) Animals have increasingly also become victims of the war in Syria that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and displaced millions of others.

Syrian refugee graduates as a doctor in London after 10 years and four countries in medical school  (2 August, 2017) "One day I might go somewhere where there is war because I understand how difficult it is to lose everything."

Escape from Syria: Rania's odyssey – video (2 August, 2017)Rania Mustafa Ali, 20, filmed her journey from the ruins of Kobane in Syria to Austria. Her footage shows what many refugees face on their perilous journey to Europe.

Turkish soldiers arrested after video shows horrific beatings and abuse of Syrian refugees (4 August, 2017) Rights groups have consistently criticised Turkey’s army for inhumane treatment and shooting people trying to cross the border

Syria's doll-makers: 'I protect my children's dreams' (5 August, 2017) Handmade dolls carry the stories of Syrian families, both devastating and hopeful, to the world.

Turkish Language 'a Must' if Syrians Hope to Improve Jobs Options (7 August, 2017) The Turkish language requirement is one of the main problems faced by the Syrian job seeker in Turkey, Iqtissad writes.

Syria: Idlib locals try to regain normality (8 August, 2017) This report shows that a de-escalation agreement aimed at ending hostilities between government and rebel forces is having an effect. But the fear of attack is never far away. 

 

Maps

How many bombs are dropped on Raqqa daily? (1 August, 2017) Since the start of the operation to retake Raqqa from ISIL, an estimated 400 civilians have been killed.

The battle for Raqqa: Who controls what (3 August, 2017) Raqqa is the capital of ISIL's so-called caliphate, and it's probably where the group will make its last stand.

SYRIA – Interactive conflict map (4th of August 2017) The map presents main military events since June 12, 2017 (last release of interactive map) to August 4, 2017. 

Syria's civil war explained from the beginning  (5 August, 2017) The Syrian civil war is the deadliest conflict the 21st century has witnessed so far.

 

Arabic Links:

المعاناة في ريف حلب تدفع المئات من مهجري الوعر إلى العودة إلى حمص  Hundreds of people displaced from al-Waer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, have now left the Zoghra camp outside of Aleppo and returned to the governed-controlled Homs.

The English version of this article can be found here: Syrian regime says it's time for the displaced to return

 أمن الأسد يستولي على منزل الصحفي فايز سارة بدمشق Syrian security forces invaded recently the house of Syrian opposition leader Fayez Sara asking his family to leave it within 24 hours.

تحرك تركيا والرأي العام السوري  This article explores Turkey’s possible role in Syria after Erdoğan’s new statement that the Turkish army is ready to launch new military campaigns.

هرمنا يا دمشق  Zaina Shahla reflects on her daily life observations in Damascus and the recent news  of the death of journalist Khaled Al Khatib and software developer Bassel Khartabil.

باسل.. جرحنا المفتوح  Fatimah Yassin reflects on the recent news that Bassel Khartabil had been executed by the Syrian regime shortly after his disappearance in 2015.

"تقبرني يا حبي"... مأساة اللجوء السوري في لعبة فيديو  A new mobile video game "Bury Me, My Love" tracks a Syrian refugee's journey to Europe through text messages.

اتّفاق وقف إطلاق النار في الغوطة الشرقيّة بمهبّ الرياح  Civilians in Syria's Eastern Ghouta was recruited for a full implementation of the cease-fire and access to humanitarian aid, but regime forces have continued missile strikes under the pretext that extremist groups remain.

The English version of this article can be found here: Despite cease-fire, shelling continues in Eastern Ghouta

خيبات ترامب، أحلام بوتين، وأوهامنا Marwan Kabalan discusses the new sanctions that the US Congress imposed on Russia and policy implication in the Middle East.

About the Arabian Peninsula Page

Despite its regional and global significance, the Arabian Peninsula has played a tangential role in the study of the modern Middle East. Jadaliyya’s Arabian Peninsula Page seeks to further the debates on the region and its eighty million inhabitants from a myopic focus on statistics, conjecture, and religious violence to one on people and communities, everyday hardships and popular struggles, culture and politics. It will bring together scholars, writers, artists, bloggers, journalists, activists, and photographers who work on or live in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The goal is to provide an open and collaborative space for the production of knowledge on a region that has largely escaped critical engagement.

 

Arabian Peninsula Map and Stats

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BAHRAIN 

Population (2016):                                         1,378,904
GDP ($US billions; 2016):                                     66.37
GDP Per Capita ($US billions; 2016):                50,300 
Health Expenditure (% of GDP; 2014):                      5
Military Expenditure (% of GDP; 2016):                4.59
Adult literacy rate (% age 15+; 2016):                   95.7
Internet Users (/million; 2015):               1.259 (93.5%)

KUWAIT

Population (2016):                                        2,832,776     
GDP ($ US billions; 2016):                                    301.1
GDP Per Capita ($ US billions; 2016):                71,300
Health Expenditure (% of GDP; 2014):                   3.0
Military Expenditure (% of GDP; 2014):                3.65
Adult literacy rate (% age 15+; 2015):                  96.3
Internet Users (/million; 2015):               2.289 (82.1%)

OMAN

Population (2016):                                        3,355,262 
GDP ($US billions; 2016):                                    173.1      
GDP Per Capita ($US billions 2016):                 43,700
Health Expenditure (% of GDP; 2014):                   3.6
Military Expenditure (% of GDP; 2016):             12.75
Adult literacy rate (% age 15+; 2015):                  91.1
Internet Users (/million; 2015):              2.438 (74.2%)

QATAR

Population (2016):                                        2,258,283
GDP ($US billions; 2016):                                    156.6
GDP Per Capita ($US billions; 2016):              129,700
Health Expenditure (% of GDP; 2015):                   2.2
Military Expenditure (% of GDP 2008):                  2.3
Adult literacy rate (% age 15+; 2015):                  97.3
Internet Users (/million; 2015):              2.039 (92.9%)

SAUDI ARABIA

Population (2016):                                       28,160,273
GDP ($US trillions 2016):                                      1.731
GDP Per Capita ($US billions 2016):                  54,100
Health Expenditure (% of GDP; 2014):                   4.7
Military Expenditure (% of GDP 2015):                13.5
Adult literacy rate (% age 15+; 2015):                  94.7
Internet Users (/million; 2015):              19.32 (69.6%)

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Population (2016):                                       5,927,482
GDP ($US billions 2016):                                     667.2
GDP Per Capita ($US billions 2016):                67,700
Health Expenditure (% of GDP; 2015):                 3.6
Military Expenditure (% of GDP; 2014):              5.66
Adult literacy rate (% age 15+; 2015):                93.8
Internet Users (/million; 2015)              5.274 (91.2%)

YEMEN

Population (2016):                                     27,392,779
GDP ($US billions; 2016):                                    73.45
GDP Per Capita ($ US billions; 2016):                2,500
Health Expenditure (% of GDP; 2014):                  5.6
Military Expenditure (% of GDP; 2014):               3.97
Adult literacy rate (% age 15+; 2015):                  70.1
Internet Users (/million; 2015):              6.711 (25.1%)