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Overrated: The Ba'athist's Influence in the Islamic State

MENAroundupMENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Mid
July 12 · Issue #46 · View online

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

Key developments
  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might be dead. Once again. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced “confirmed information” about his death and reports say that Islamic State authorities have declared the IS leader’s death in a town west of Mosul. Reports also indicate infighting within the organization.
  • The seventh round of UN-sponsored peace talks has started in Geneva on Monday. Expectations are low.
  • US, Russian and Jordanian officials have agreed a ceasefire in southern Syria that officially began on Sunday. According to activists, there were already plenty of violations but airstrikes and the use of heavy weapons decreased. 
  • Apparently, the additional troops that are available for the regime due to the halt in the fighting have been sent to the southeast, where pro-regime troops launched attacks on some towns and villages. 
  • Clashes broke out between the YPG and Turkish forces in northern Syria after the latter shelled some towns, including Tal Rifaat.
  • The conflict between Ahrar al-Sham and HTS in Idlib is anything but over. Ahrar raised a giant revolutionary flag - once banned by HTS - at the main border crossing with Turkey and demonstrates its stance against HTS’s desired leading role. The big question is how Ahrar will position itself towards Turkey: So far, the relationship is close, but if Ankara is willing to serve up Idlib on a silver platter in return for a free hand against the YPG/PKK, things will likely change. 
Articles worth reading
A Pedigree of Terror: The Myth of the Ba’athist Influence in the Islamic State Movement
Beyond the Peninsula
Aleppo militias become major test for Assad
The Battle for Deraa and Iran's Plans in the South
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