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MENAroundup - Issue #62

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MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
 
November 1 · Issue #62 · 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

Developments
  • A new round of discussions, led by Russia, Iran and Turkey, has started in Astana. Representatives of both the Assad regime and opposition/rebel groups also attend the meetings. In the run up to the current meetings, the regime has allowed aid to enter besieged East Ghouta for the first time since mid 2016.
  • The humanitarian situation in East Ghouta is disastrous: People are starving. The regime’s move is nothing but a public relations coup in light of media attention for the Astana discussions. 
  • The Astana process is non-public to a large extend. However, Russia has pushed an initiative to establish a congress that works on a new Syrian constitution. As the Geneva process is largely detached from dynamics on the ground, the Russian-backed initiative could turn out to be highly influential. The first round of talks is scheduled for mid November. Russia, apparently supported by Iran and Turkey, has also invited Kurdish PYD-officials who have been excluded so far. 
  • Simultaneously, the Assad regime has stated that it considers Raqqa to be “occupied” by the Kurdish-led SDF and that it would not allow the SDF to control the recently seized oil fields in eastern Syria. The upcoming confrontation between the regime and the US-backed SDF is inevitable. Washington has to make its commitment to the SDF clear soon. 
  • Heavy fighting is going on in Deir ez-Zor, where pro-regime troops have captured most of the city from the Islamic State. According to the SOHR, at least 20 pro-regime fighters have been killed in recent days. 

Articles worth reading
Saving America's Syrian Ceasefire
Dark Victory in Raqqa
Barzani Resigns as Iraq and Iran Threaten Kurdistan’s Border Crossings
The Kurds Are Right Back Where They Started
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