Final proof: The Assad regime is responsible for the Sarin attacks

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January 31 · Issue #75 · View online
MENAroundup
MENAroundup
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq. lars@menaroundup.com

Notions
  • Turkey’s operation in Afrin progresses slowly but steadily. Foggy weather and rain impede armored vehicles and aircraft, but the YPG itself simply cannot resist in the mid-term. Turkish forces and its allied rebels, on the other hand, will have a hard time occupying the hostile area and population.
  • However, maybe it won’t go that far: Shortly before Operation Olive Branch started, the Russians proposed a deal to the PYD/YPG: If they would formally hand over control to the Assad regime, Russia would prevent a Turkish-led invasion. The PYD/YPG refused at that time, but its calculus might change soon. The fact that the US - contrary to what many thought -  didn’t come to help might leave the PYD/YPG with the choice to either accept the regime’s rule in return for some sort of autonomy or get crushed by Turkey. 
  • Interesting side note: Joanna Paraszczuk interviewed a commander who denied rumors that North Caucasian jihadists fight on Turkey’s side in Afrin.
  • Two days ago, a huge Turkish military convoy entered the province of Idlib and headed towards Al-Eis, an area where a Turkish reconnaissance team already has been spotted a week ago. The convoy stopped near the town of Al Eis in the Aleppo countryside where a car bomb detonated. There were also reports of shelling by Iranian-led militias and even Syrian aircraft, but this is not confirmed. A variety of suspects is thinkable, but overall, it seems unlikely that Turkey would send such a convoy without green light by Russia.
  • Russia tried hard to portray its Sochi congress as some kind of groundbreaking, inclusive effort to arrive at a new Syrian constitution. Most relevant opposition groups didn’t show up and those who did had to realize that mass murderers like Mihrac Ural were among the regime delegates. However, the Sochi congress somehow received blessing when UN’s de Mistura framed it as an contribution to the Geneva process and a basis to set up a team that would work on constitutional reform. 
  • It can’t be stressed enough: Sarin used in Khan Sheikhoun matches with the Assad regime’s stockpiles and the Sarin used in the 2013 Ghouta attacks. 
Articles worth reading
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No Winners in Turkey’s New Offensive into Syria No Winners in Turkey’s New Offensive into Syria
Fitness-Tracker App Exposes Security Flaw at Taiwan’s Missile Command Center Fitness-Tracker App Exposes Security Flaw at Taiwan’s Missile Command Center
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