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Hidden Camera in Idlib

MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
May 17 · Issue #38 · View online

MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq.

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Warum es in Syrien mehr als einen Schuldigen geben muss
Key developments
  • The United States officially declared that they intend to directly arm Kurdish forces within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Considering that the SDF’s dominant faction, the YPG, already benefitted from US support since 2014, the decision is foremost a clear message to Ankara: Together with the YPG, the US is going to take Raqqa. Turkey can accept this or will be left behind.
  • A new round of talks has begun in Geneva. The process is based on UN resolution 2254 that aims for a political transition. Therefore, the talks won’t achieve anything and President Assad has already said that it was “merely a meeting for the media”.
  • The YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured both the city of Tabqa and the Tabqa dam, roughly 40 km away from Raqqa. The noose tightens on the Islamic State’s self-declared capital. However, the fall of Raqqa won’t be a heavy blow to the organization. The IS leadership is aware of the fact that their caliphate is losing ground since years and that they cannot face the US air force in the open field. IS is already adapting to the situation and the political ride on a razor blade in northern Syria indicates that IS won’t be defeated soon.
  • As part of a deal, approximately 2.500 rebels and their families left the Damascus suburb of Qaboun towards Idlib/Ghuta. It is obvious that the regime tries to concentrate armed opposition groups in Idlib, the province that has become a reservoir for extremist groups and masses of refugees. 
  • Pro-regime forces have deployed significant reinforcements to southern Syria after Free Syrian Army rebels, supported by the US, pushed Islamic State militants back and captured large swathes of territory. The ground that the Islamic State loses is heavily contested and will likely lead to the emergence of new fronts.
Undercover in Idlib
Articles worth reading
The United States and Turkey Are on a Collision Course in Syria
Mini-Hizballahs, Revolutionary Guard Knock-Offs, and the Future of Iran’s Militant Proxies in Iraq
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