DNA test places ancestors on Eastern Mediterranean for past 50k years. Region’s current status? #INSA
Sep 18, 2018 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
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
Sep 17, 2018 • 12 tweets • 4 min read
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
Sep 17, 2018 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
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
“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
Sep 9, 2018 • 16 tweets • 8 min read
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
Sep 7, 2018 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
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.
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
Sep 4, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
Nearly every #Idlib insurgent was allowed in, supported, financed & armed to help topple Assad which was thought to be a sure bet. Idea was that these men would then hand the keys to those with the brains & suits who would fly in from abroad & run the country happily thereafter
2-With the above sure bet now largely a pipe dream, what we are witnessing is revisionist rewriting of how we got here & what this is really about. Those who supported, financed, facilitated and armed these men are suddenly out of the conversation.
Sep 3, 2018 • 8 tweets • 2 min read
Thread on the Syrian State’s Financial Liabilities as the country’s population doubled every 22 years over the past 5 decades. Just this week, 4 Million students were reportedly enrolled at Syrian public schools. The state charges practically zero to educate them
2-The 4 Million students enrolled at Syrian schools roughly compare to the nearly 3 Million students enrolled in the State of New York where the school district spends $22,366 per pupil for a total yearly budget of $61.4 Billion.
Sep 2, 2018 • 4 tweets • 3 min read
During latest trip to #Aleppo , I had written about the dangerous road trip to the city using Khanaser. With Idlib under control of armed groups, Damascus-Aleppo Highway is cut out leaving Khanaser as the only way to get to the city. Nearly 200 people died on it so far this year
2-The image caption refers to Khanaser as the “Road of Death”. This morning it was the turn of this young woman who was a medical student at the University of #Aleppo
Aug 30, 2018 • 5 tweets • 2 min read
de Mistura Floats Idea of Evacuating #Idlib Civilians to Government areas: "Short of going to Turkey, the civilians have no other option in order not to be where fighting may take place". This is a "temporary" measure so that "people can then return to their own places untouched"
2-Ahmad Ramadan, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition's delegation to U.N. called de Mistura's proposal "unrealistic". It's very regrettable," he said. "The special envoy's role is not to call for a humanitarian corridor, but to call on Russia to stop the aggression."
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 =>
Aug 19, 2018 • 7 tweets • 3 min read
Close friend just asked that I further explain the linkage between #Turkey ‘s Economic polices and the exchange rate. Why is the Lira falling?
The reason is that the 16% inflation rate is too high and requires higher interest rates to compensate savers/investors ==>more
2-Note that Lira’s fall has come after #Turkey achieved credit fueled 7.4% economic growth (one of fastest amongst G20). Higher growth brought more imports (all energy imported) and added to the persistently large trade/current account deficits. Such Deficits have to be funded
Aug 18, 2018 • 10 tweets • 3 min read
Thread - Was #Syrian Ba’ath Party Economic Policy which was built on Self-reliance and local industry ahead of its time? Did that policy anticipate what we know now as the power of Western Economic Sanctions? Has Erdogan been lately repeating words taken from Baathist textbooks?
2-It’s hard to argue with possibility that the answers to all the above questions is in the affirmative. Coming from a Neo-Liberal Free Markets proponent like myself, I must admit to now seeing the political rationale behind deciding to shun globalization & purity of free markets
Aug 9, 2018 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for #Syria:
"We are entering a new chapter in this very long, very bloody, very cruel, very bitter war in Syria. Hopefully we are seeing the beginning of the end to the big war."
Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for #Syria:
"The war cannot be allowed to go to Idlib. Idlib is a very special place. It is the place where people fled."
Aug 8, 2018 • 8 tweets • 4 min read
Significant holes in the article below:
1- As usual, numbers get thrown around with zero verification. Who can confirm that “an estimated 2.5 to 3.5 Million people” are currently in #Idlib ?
2-Idlib isn’t a dumping ground. It is the place armed groups insisted on relocating to
3-Lister’s Article mentions that Idlib contains entire array of groups from “MOST MODERATE of Free Syrian Army to ...” Please tell us who these groups are by name so we can ascertain how “most moderate” they are @joshua_landis
Close friend had his wrist broken & needed surgery. Went to private section of a public hospital. Syrian doctor who used to work in Germany operated on him. Cost? SYP 13,000 or US$ 30.
How is it so cheap I ask? Read on =>
2- Turns out, Assad had personally instructed all public hospitals to charge for operations the same rate as before the war started. Given fact that local currency is now 1/10 of its value, an operation such as this now cost US$30 versus US$ 300 before the crisis started
Aug 3, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
@RaniaKhalek published arguably one of most informative & important articles on #Syria of late. For the record & according to well informed source, Khaled al-Ahmad is not Sunni but an Alawi whose late father had founded an Association for Syrian Inventors grayzoneproject.com/2018/08/02/mee…
2-Source continues: Khaled al-Ahmad ‘s father was also youngest member of Syria’s Ba’ath party Regional Command (Ruling Organ). He is known to have had enormous influence on Khaled‘ early formative years (Incidentally he is 38 now and was 30y old when the crisis started)
Aug 2, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
For 1st time since 2014, UN peacekeepers are back on Golan heights - #Syria frontier. As the situation stabilizes further, these posts will be handed over to Syrian government forces. Overnight, Israel was on high alert as #ISIS fighters tried to cross into its territories ==>
2-This is a significant realization by #Israel & others that the earlier foolish policy of arming and supporting militants on its border had to be reversed. It is now clear that without the Syrian State, the void will be filled by uncontrollable cocktail mix of armed groups
Jul 31, 2018 • 18 tweets • 4 min read
Thread on Syria Coverage: Reporters & experts were eager to establish access with insiders to help analyze the conflict. For reasons to be explained, Govt side was not going to provide that access. Those in Opp, however, were eager to tell outsiders their side of the story
2-Above dynamic helped shape #Syria coverage & analysis over past 7y. With help of social media, every reporter/analyst boasted long list of mostly Opp contacts who were feeding them timely updates. Expertise became correlated with length of your WhatsApp / Skype contact list
Jul 23, 2018 • 10 tweets • 3 min read
#Israel strongly believes that #Iran is staging weapons system in #Syria in places like Aleppo, T4 in E Homs & even Boukamal, and that such weapons are intended for use against Israel & not for purposes of supporting Syrian Army against ISIS or insurgents. Is Israel wrong? =>
2-Interestingly, as the risks of a wider conflict pitting Israel & Iran seem to gather steam in policy circles, the facts on the grounds concerning Iran's presence in Syria have been heading the other direction of late. Set below are the reasons why: ==>
Jul 16, 2018 • 8 tweets • 3 min read
Legal basis behind US presence in #Syria is seldom discussed. Both Obama & Trump Admin have argued that the US was acting in national and collective self-defense (against ISIS/AQ). However, there is another critical doctrine made along with the above to justify this presence ===>
2-The Legal doctrine argues that the US as “victim state” can use force in self defense against non-state actors (ISIS) as long it determines that the “territorial state” (#Syria) is “UNABLE OR UNWILLING” to effectively address the threat posed by the non-state actors