EHSANI2 Profile picture
Aug 23, 2018 14 tweets 5 min read
#Assad has repeatedly vowed to retake “Every Inch of #Syria”. While the pledge seemed unrealistic early on, it suddenly doesn’t seem too far fetched. But is Assad’s vow only about land, or is there something more fundamental that has been cornerstone of the leadership’s strategy
2-Vowing to “Take Every Inch of #Syria back” started as early as 2013 when Damascus would make the pledge in private to Western officials who came looking for solutions. Such officials were known to have warned Damascus that, even if possible, such would take years to achieve =>
3-Since the pledge was first used in private in 2013, the #Syrian leadership has stuck to its vow and made it clear that there can’t be a political solution until every inch of the country is taken back under State control first. This fundamental premise continues today
4-Whether it is armed groups in #Idlib or the Kurds in #Qameshli or #Hasakeh , Damascus seems persistent in pushing forward with its vow to retake those areas back and restore the pre-2011 status. There will be no political solutions till this is achieved first =>
5-But is it just about land? No. The issue has more to do restoring &
maintaining the country’s long standing demographic structure and balance. Vowing to Take every inch back is vowing to ensure that the original inhabitants of every village in Syria are back to pre-2011 status
6-Should the state fail at ensuring the original inhabitants of every Syrian village are able to go back home is seen by Damascus as a dangerous precedent that can only invite future wars as new groups attempt to grab land & homes of other groups knowing this was possible in 2011
7-A Remarkable incident took place recently that goes to confirm the above. During the battle of #Daraa and #Quneitra, Russian negotiators made deal with an important local armed group that later invited a strong negative reaction from Damascus ==>
8-Alwiyet al Furqan led by Majed al Khatib, originally from village of Knakaer 40 km north and known to many by nickname Clinton for his light features had been occupying the villages the mostly Circassian village of Bariqa, Beer Ajam & Kahtanieh which are right on #Israel border
9-Russian negotiators reached deal w Alwiyet al Furqan leader to stay in the villages & commit to maintain security in the area. Syrian officials were not initially aware of Russian commitment to allow the group to remain. Recall members of this group are from Kanakir 40km North
10-When Damascus became fully aware of deal's detailsl, it made its concerns known to Moscow immediately. Syrian leadership saw this as a dangerous precedent that would make it possible for other groups to think they can stay in areas they grabbed during the war
11-In spite of original agreement between Russian negotiators and the armed group, Damascus did succeed in reversing the deal. The groups would ultimately leave the villages. The incident ought to be seen as a template of what "Retaking Every Inch" really means for #Damascus
12-When the goal of taking every inch back was first articulated to Western officials as early as 2013, Damascus requested that to help it achieve its goal they must put pressure on Turkey and other states financing the war to stop doing so to help shorten the duration of the war
13-Western & regional capitals were convinced that Damascus couldn't possibly deliver on its vow. Little was known then about Damascus' plan to call on its Russian ally. Now & more than ever before, the vow to take every inch back still drives the leadership's long term strategy
14-Wil conclude with word on #Assad . No one can speculate what happens in 2021 when his first term ends (current constitution allows 2 terms ending in 2028). What we do know for sure is that the “Retaking of Every Inch” vow is a prerequisite for any & all political outcomes

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More from @EHSANI22

Sep 18, 2018
Thread on status of Syrian Opposition post the "demilitarized zone" agreement in #Idlib . Thus far, most commentary has regarded the deal as a win for the Opp since risk of imminent strike on the province has been avoided. But is this deal really a positive for opp? Answer: No=>
2-Let's step back first. This is an Opp that was formed with goal of toppling the State (diplomatic language of Geneva process called it political transition). Nothing short of above was acceptable to this opp. As of yesterday, mere avoidance of strikes is now seen as a win
3-Let's not also forget that from early days of Geneva's political transition talks, the only political activity left now is an attempt to establish constitutional committee. All else has been shelved. Now that we established the general status of the opp, let's discuss this deal
Read 7 tweets
Sep 17, 2018
Thread listing Preliminary observations on the announcement of the “Demilitarized Zone” in #Idlib today: What does it mean for Turkey, Russia, Damascus and the armed groups? What is the likely risk/reward calculus for each party? What should we expect going forward? ===>
2– Let’s recap what we seem to know first: A zone 9-12 miles long would be established by Oct. 15. It would contain no heavy weapons or extreme elements of the insurgency (al-Qaeda-linked militants). It would be be patrolled by Turkish and Russian forces
3-First critical point to note is whether this deal will end up securing the highway that passes through Idlib and links the north and south of the country under Govt control together. This was of course one of the strategic aims of Damascus from any #Idlib operation
Read 12 tweets
Sep 17, 2018
For the record, while everyone seems to believe that the number of civilians in #Idlib is close to 3 million, a Damascus source who has been very prescient in the past believes that the actual number may not exceed 1 million.
2-To suggest that 3 Million civilians live in #Idlib is to suggest:

A-That pre-war housing stock & other infrastructure was able to accommodate double the pre-war population

B-Moreover, safe to assume both housing & infrastructure now nowhere near pre-war conditions/capacity
3-In effect, for #Idlib to host 3 Million now compared to 1.2-1.5 pre-war is to assume either a building boom (not war) or construction of massive camps that would host such massive numbers. Yet to see credible images of such camps or investments in the housing stock
Read 6 tweets
Sep 11, 2018
Erdogan in an op-ed in @WSJ :

“Moderate rebels played a key role in Turkey’s fight against terrorists in Northern #Syria; their assistance and guidance will be crucial in Idlib as well”
2-Erdogan: “Preventing the assault on #Idlib need not set back counter-terrorism efforts. Turkey has succeeded in fighting terrorist groups, including ISIS and the PKK, without harming or displacing civilians”

Notice how he doesn’t include Nusra /al-Qaeda in above group
3- Erdogan: “Turkey’s ability to maintain order in Northern #Syria is proof that a responsible approach to counter-terrorism can win hearts and minds”
Read 7 tweets
Sep 9, 2018
In order to truly understand the dynamic inside the #Syrian Armed Opposition, one must start to look into the ever closer marriage between the the Moslem Brotherhood and Nusra / al-Qaeda. Both have been joined at the hip through the sponsorship & support of #Qatar #Turkey ==>
2-Moslem Brotherhood (MB) lost its original military wing during the battle with the Syrian State in the 80’s. Best to think of Nusra/HTS/al-Qaeda in #Syria today as the new military wing of the M Brotherhood. One is the brain, the other represents arms & legs of the same body
3-The coordination between MB & Nusra/HTS/al-Qaeda has afforded the latter the chance to transform itself from non-state actor that had been hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan to an outfit with clear lines of communications to regional capitals that are supporting the MB
Read 16 tweets
Sep 7, 2018
1-Set below is a short thread summarizing some of exchange w this Tajik Muhajir (Foreign Fighter)

Q: How did you come to Bilad al-Sham [Syria]?
A: I heard the Muslims in al-Sham were oppressed. I made hijra [migration] to help them.

SO ALAWIS (THE OPPRESSORS?) ARE NOT MUSLIMS?
Q: All the factions in Syria are oppressors?
A: God knows best. They love money.
Q: So you thought there were jihad and defending Islam, but it's not like that on the ground?
A: Yes. Most of them declare takfir on whoever they like.

PERFECT WINDOW INTO THE FUTURE, THANK YOU
Q: Currently you are not with any faction?
A: No. They are all liars. They say what they do not do.
Q: There are people who say that jihad must continue in Syria. What do you say to these people?
A: If there are no honest factions. With whom [do you wage] jihad?

LIARS? NO WAY
Read 4 tweets

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