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Syria

Geopolitics

Erdogan's Opening? Why Turkey Sees Ukraine War As A Chance To Target Kurds In Syria

As the leaders of Turkey, Iran and Russia meet to discuss the situation in Syria, the West is closely watching Turkish President Erdoğan's moves on Kurdish separatists in northern Syria, now that Moscow is focused on Ukraine.

-Analysis-

It wasn't long ago that Moscow dictated what happened in Syria. Vladimir Putin has been the most important ally of Syria's regime, which would have likely collapsed long ago without Russia's support.

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But the war in Ukraine has shifted the political balance in the region — and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan can see his chance.

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Why Should We Give Military Support To Ukraine? Remember The Kurds

Six years ago, when ISIS attacked Kobanî, in Syria, the Kurds put up a heroic resistance, as the Ukrainians are doing now. But the city was only saved because the West supported the Kurdish fighters – support that is not forthcoming for Ukraine today.

-OpEd-

In October 2014, Islamic State (ISIS) fighters attacked the Kurdish-majority city of Kobanî in northern Syria with U.S.-manufactured heavy weapons, which they had seized earlier that year in the Battle of Mosul. As those defending the city were pushed back to a few remaining streets, Stéphane Charbonnier wrote a thought-provoking article in the left-leaning French daily newspaper L’Humanité.

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“I am not Kurdish, I can’t speak a single word of Kurdish, I cannot name a single Kurdish writer, I know nothing about Kurdish culture. But today I am Kurdish. I think in Kurdish, I speak in Kurdish, I sing in Kurdish, I weep in Kurdish. The besieged Kurds in Syria are not just Kurds; they are humanity fighting against the darkness. They are defending their lives, their families, their country, but whether they want to or not, they represent the last bulwark against the advance of the ‘Islamic State’. They are defending us, not against a distorted version of Islam, a religion that the terrorists of ISIS do not truly represent, but against barbarism and mob rule.”

Charbonnier, known by his pseudonym Charb, was editor-in-chief at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Four months after that article was published, he – along with nine of his colleagues and other victims – was murdered by this very same “barbarism and mob rule.”

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Ukrainians In 2022 vs. Syrians In 2015, Why Some Refugees Get A Warmer Welcome

As people open their homes to Ukrainian refugees, some in Germany and elsewhere in Europe are criticizing the lack of a similar welcome for Syrians in 2015. Do we have a responsibility to offer the same level of help to all those in need — and are we even capable of that? The answer might just be found in philosophy.

-Essay-

BERLIN — The war in Ukraine has moved many to open their homes to refugees, but this warm welcome has also sparked criticism, with some asking why so many Germans are now happy to have a Ukrainian under their roof when they wouldn’t have done the same for a Syrian in 2015.

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There are many reasons for this. Nigerian author Ayo Sogunro tweeted, “Can't get it out of my head that Europe cried about a 'migrant crisis' in 2015 against 1.4 million refugees fleeing war in Syria and yet quickly absorbed some 2 million Ukrainians within days, complete with flags and piano music. Europe never had a migrant crisis. It has a racism crisis."

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Syria, The Laboratory For Putin's Brutality In Ukraine

Putin is increasing his attacks on Ukrainian civilians and may be preparing to use chemical weapons. But these horrific tactics are not new — they were perfected by the Russian army during a brutal war in Syria.

As he walked the apocalyptic streets of Kharkiv last week, BBC correspondent Quentin Sommerville cited what he called the "Russian attack playbook." Indeed, the shattered city in northeastern Ukraine evokes the destruction of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

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The scenes are strikingly similar: at the local hospital, aware that they could be the next target, medical workers pile injured children and women into the corridors. The beds by the windows would be deadly in the event of an attack.

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Geopolitics
Laura-Mai Gaveriaux

Ten Years Of War And One Of COVID, Syria Facing Economic Abyss

The economic crisis in neighboring Lebanon, coupled with COVID-19 travel restrictions, are causing the already war-ravished nation to drown in even greater misery.

SYRIA-LEBANON BORDER — Near a checkpoint on the border between Syria and Lebanon, 50-year-old Joelle says that conditions are simply "unbearable." A member of a Christian family originally from the city of Homs, she has spent the past 30 years in Masnaa, in the Lebanese Beqaa Governorate. In all that time, things have never been this bad, she explains.

For many Syrian residents, the 375 km-long border between Syria and Lebanon has always been an ecosystem where they earned their income. Back and forth trips between the two countries were common. But today, 10 years since the war that ravaged Syria began, the area is now mainly an observation post for all the upheavals that these two interlinked economies are experiencing — even if movements of goods and people have never been fully interrupted.

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AKHBAR AL AN
Mourad Kamel

One Year After Al-Baghdadi Death, An ISIS 'Regeneration'

The U.S. killed the ruthless leader last October in Syria at a low point for ISIS. But under his successor, the group is beginning to strike back, in Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

The grisly killing 10 days ago of a French school teacher had many of the hallmarks of past attacks carried out by the bloody Islamist terror outfit ISIS. A well-defined symbolic target in the West: Samuel Paty, a respected history and geography teacher who'd been criticized by a Muslim parent and Islamist agitator for showing satirical cartoons of the prophet Muhammad as part of his annual lesson on free speech; the brazen brutality of the act: a swift stabbing and beheading with a butcher knife on a street near the school north of Paris; online exchanges discovered later between the perpetrator, a Russian-born French resident of Chechen origin, and an operative in Idlib, Syria.

And yet according to French daily Le Parisien, investigators say that the killer's contacts were with a different Islamist terror group in Syria (Haya't Tahrir El Sham, HTS) — and that the attack by the 18-year-old (later killed in a standoff with police) was neither inspired nor orchestrated by ISIS.

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Geopolitics
Tom Rollins

The Fall Of Idlib, No Safe Place Left In Syria

The camera pans across families waiting around with their luggage and children. Men stand with rifles slung over their shoulders, ready to board the evacuation buses north.

Migrating birds pass overhead. "Where are they going, do you know?" asks a voice, from the man holding the camera. "Every year, they go to their homes and then they come back."

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Geopolitics
Allan Kaval

A French Kid Dragged Into Jihad, Lingers In A Syrian Prison

An 18-year-old prisoner recounts his departure from Roubaix, his life in a country at war, and his detention with no way out.

Mourad can no longer remember the titles of the books he used to borrow from the library at his former elementary school in the northern French city of Roubaix. There are no books where he lives now, in a prison in northeastern Syria. His parents forcibly took him to the land of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), when he was only 12 years old.

And even if the "caliphate" is no more, he's remained a prisoner here: "I forget things ..."

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Geopolitics
Allan Kaval

Forced To Flee, Kurds In Syria Fear They May Never Return Home

Turkey has forced the Syrian Kurds into an astonishing trap, leaving hundreds of thousands with little choice but to flee.

BARDARASH — Ten days before crossing the Iraqi border, 37-year-old Mahmoud Issa was giving English classes at a school in the Kurdish and Arab village Ras al-Ayn, in northeastern Syria. Today, he's eating rice doused in tomato sauce from a plastic box under a hanger belonging to the Peshmerga, the Kurdish Iraqi armed forces, near a village lost in the charred, meandering hills between Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Turkish bombs have begun falling nearby and radical Muslim groups on Ankara's payroll have crossed the border. The images of the abuse, humiliation and executions they inflict have spread terror throughout the region. The Syrian regime has begun its retreat to the northeast.

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Sources

Watch: OneShot — A Broken Daughter In Syria

After returning home from his job as a Syrian construction worker, Fadia's father collapsed onto his bed, dusting the sheets with the debris that fell from his work clothes. Soon after, the shabiha (pro-regime militia) burst into their home and shot him in the head. NOOR photographer Tanya Habjouqa photographed the surviving daughter in what she calls a "collaborative" portrait.

A Broken Daughter — ©Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR/OneShot

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blog
Bertrand Hauger

Aleppo, All That Glitters Is Gone

For millennia, Aleppo was a city of riches, a significant stop on the Silk Road. Sadly, many parts of the Ancient City — including its famous souks — have now been destroyed in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

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