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Syria Media Roundup (August 16)

[Image of graffiti drawn by Syrian youth South of Damascus. Image by Dimashqi Lens via flickr] [Image of graffiti drawn by Syrian youth South of Damascus. 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

Syrian army bombs 'safe zones' killing civilians (10 August, 2017) Government bombs "de-escalation zones" while regime forces capture 30km border with Jordan from rebel control.

Idlib Residents Split Over Support for Al-Qaida-Linked Militants (10 August, 2017) Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s military dominance in Idlib has not been translated into total popular support. Today, the province is split between those who accept the extremist group and those who are pushing back against its rise to prominence.

Seven White Helmets medics killed in Syria's Idlib (12 August, 2017) Armed attackers stormed the Sarmin office of the Syrian paramedic group that is active in opposition-controlled areas.

Syrian government doubles territory under its control (13 August, 2017) Russia says Syrian government forces have seized thousands of square kilometres from ISIL in the centre of the country.

Thousands of refugees and militants return to Syria from Lebanon (14 August, 2017) Hezbollah escorts more than 3,000 across border in latest phase of repatriation that aid groups say fails to guarantee welfare.

Syria's White Helmets protest against killings of rescue workers (14 August, 2017) Civil defence volunteers hold vigils for seven colleagues shot dead by unknown perpetrators in Sarmin on Saturday.

I am a civilian in Raqqa. Surviving the siege is becoming harder every day (15 August, 2017) As well as the airstrikes and lack of food, those of us left here endure the severe mental strain of hiding our true personalities from Isis and the religious police.

Inside Aleppo: Residents return to rebuild Syria's shattered city (15 August, 2017) With the permission of the Assad government, CNN reports from Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods that used to be strongholds of the opposition.

 

Regional and International Perspectives

The two Syrias and the shrinking grey category (9 August, 2017) Ola Rifai comments on two pictures coming up from Syria painting a secular Syria ruled by Assad vs. an Islamic Syria led by rural Salfists stand as a solid fact.

A Deadly Delusion: Were Syria's Rebels Ever Going to Defeat the Jihadists? (10 August, 2017) Sam Heller writes that "the counter-terrorism case for backing Syria’s rebels was bogus — an implausible claim by the Syrian opposition that was uncritically and irresponsibly repeated by opposition backers."

Syria’s Assad has become an icon of the far right in America (13 August, 2017) Assad’s emergence as a popular hero for the right appears to have followed a series of tweets in March by the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, in which he lavished praise on the Syrian president, describing him as an “amazing leader” — and more.

In 1939, I didn’t hear war coming. Now its thundering approach can’t be ignored (14 August, 2017) As a teenager I would just laugh at newsreels of Hitler and other fascists. I hope what happened next is not witnessed again by my grandchildren’s generation.

Turkey might seek more than mere reconstruction in northern Syria (14 August, 2017) Turkey’s ambitious and costly reconstruction projects in the Jarablus/al-Rai/al-Bab triangle of northern Syria suggest comprehensive society-building.

Why Syrian Constitutional Debates Are Unlikely to Bring Political Reform (14 August, 2017) Russia’s power broker role in Syria negotiations means that any future debates around a new constitution will be an attempt to solidify Moscow’s proposal for the de facto partitioning Syria, while maintaining Assad’s position, writes journalist Lorenzo Trombetta.

 

Policy and Reports

Inside Turkey’s NGO Purge (3 August, 2017) The Turkish government is targeting aid workers with intimidation tactics, inane red tape, and senseless deportations.

Syrian feminists: 'This is the chance the war wave us - to empower women' (7 August, 2017) Activists in Syria are challenging patriarchal norms, to ensure they have a place not just at the negotiating table, but in rebuilding the country after the war.

The Education Information Gap Facing Syrian Women Outside Syria (7 August, 2017) A major barrier to Syrian women’s education – both inside and outside the country – is the information gap that makes applying for asylum and finding education opportunities a labyrinth of confusion.

UK defence contractor billed US more than $50m in expenses (9 August, 2017) Expenses included luxury cars and salaries paid to ‘significant others’ of company’s top executives, according to Pentagon.

We Must Ask Refugees What They Feel About Returning to Syria (11 August, 2017) The founder of the consultancy behind the annual Arab Youth Survey explains why they did their first-ever poll of Syrian refugees and what the young refugees surveyed in Lebanon and Jordan said about the conflict and their attitudes toward going home.

US-led anti-Isis campaign in Raqqa 'failing to avoid civilian deaths' (11 August, 2017) Hundreds of residents in Syrian city reportedly killed by airstrikes on Isis stronghold amid changes in targeting policy under Trump.

Alleged Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash receiving consular help from Australia (12 August, 2017) Coalition says ‘basic’ assistance being given due to hopes alleged conspirator will share intelligence on terrorist group.

UN says nearly 50,000 stranded at unsafe Jordan-Syria border (14 August, 2017) Nearly 50,000 people, most of them women and children, are stranded at Syria’s southern border with Jordan, an increasingly unsafe area where air strikes were reported in the last few days, the United Nations said Monday.

Syrian Businesses Around World Aim to get ‘Syrians to Help Syrians’ (14 August, 2017) The chairman of the newly established Syrian International Business Association, Samer Chamsi-Pasha, says the Syrian diaspora needs to mobilize to help countries hosting Syrian refugees.

 

Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media

The Sound of Syria (9 August, 2017) Syrian qanun virtuoso Maya Youssef explains why - to her - music is "the opposite of death" in this powerful and poignant talk.

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled review – voices from Syria (12 August, 2017) Wendy Pearlman’s remarkable collection of testimonies from Syrian refugees offers a strong anti-Assad narrative.

Can Iraq's Kurdish region gain independence?  (13 August, 2017) Iraq's Kurds say they are going ahead with plans to hold a referendum on independence in September.

The battle for Raqqa – in pictures (14 August, 2017) The final phase of the campaign to reclaim Islamic State’s de facto capital was launched two months ago by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a confederation dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Arab auxiliary militia – and backed by a US-led coalition.

Requiem for Aleppo: 'I couldn't keep watching the news. I had to do something' (14 August, 2017) A hard-hitting new dance show uses the stories of Syrians to capture the horrors of Aleppo – and the hope that will not die.

 

Maps

Displaced Syrians heading home in larger numbers: IOM (11 August, 2017) IOM says over 600,000 Syrians set off for their cities and villages in first seven months of 2017 amid new displacement.

Already displaced Syrians flee as airstrikes reach within 100 meters of remote camp (15 August, 2017) A military offensive by pro-regime forces along Syria’s southern border sent dozens of people in a remote displacement camp fleeing deeper into the desert for a fifth consecutive day Tuesday, sources told Syria Direct, days after regime airstrikes reportedly hit “only 100 meters” from the settlement’s tents.

 

Arabic Links:

الأمانة السورية للتنمية، من الوجه المدني إلى البزة العسكرية Karam Mansour discusses the history of the Syria Trust for Development and the effects of the Syrian war on its structure, image, and finance.

هيئة تحرير الشام تخطط لخطوتها التالية في شمال سوريا 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.

The English version of this article can be found here: Hayat Tahrir al-Sham plots its next move in northern Syria

أتباع الشيطان Iraqi forces have killed thousands of Islamic State fighters. In death, what do they deserve? Seeking answers in the ruined city of Mosul, Kenneth R. Rosen unearths a terrible crime.

The English version of this article can be found here: The Devil’s Henchmen

الرقة وحرب المياه  Feras Hanoush highlights the impacts of water insecurity on residents of Raqqa city and the surrounding countryside and how their inability to access drinking water forced them to rely on wells or untreated water drawn directly from the Balikh river.

The English version of this article can be found here: Raqqa's Water War

بيان من عائلة باسل خرطبيل صفدي الى الرأي العام The family of Bassel Khartabil writes in their statement: "We, as a family, who’s been affected declare to the world that we stand for all of the detainees and we are terrified of the thought that another syrian family is having to go through what we suffered."

The English version of this article can be found here: A statement from the family of Bassel Khartabil (Safadi) to the public opinion

هل تكون الفيدرالية الحل للصراع في سوريا؟ Hosam al-Jablawi discusses the federal solution for the Syrian conflict that was proposed by Russia and welcomed by the Kurds.

The English version of this article can be found here: Could Federalism Work for the Syrian Crisis After Years of Conflict?

مليار ليرة لترحيل أنقاض الدمار في داريا The Syrian regime’s reconstruction committee approved 17.8 billion Syrian pound to rebuild affected areas in Syria like Darya.

أرقام رسمية سورية "صادمة" لعدد ضحايا الحرب! The head of forensic medicine department at the Faculty of Medicine at University of Damascus says that more than 400 thousands victims have been documented in Syrian hospitals.

مقاربة روسية لتعزيز «الاستقرار المحلي المؤقت» والتنسيق مع دمشق Ibrahim Hamidi discusses a Russian proposal based on documents and correspondence between Staffan de Mistura and former US experts and officials. 

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%)