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The categories "Peace" and "War" do not work for Syria

January 18 · Issue #73 · View online
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq.

  • As others have already published helpful overviews about the situation in Afrin (you find one example below), only two notions: 1. An all-out offensive on Afrin would be very costly for both Turkey and allied rebel factions. It is likely that the pro-Turkish forces will avoid the mountaineous core and instead focus on areas in the east. Possible that Tell Rifaat is the first objective. 2. Turkey’s possible push will result in new political understandings in Syria’s northwest. It is no co-incidence that Turkey initiated the rebel counterattack in Idlib a week ago. Turkey needs leverage. The US has already signaled that it won’t protect the YPG in Afrin. Thus, Turkey’s biggest problem could be a scenario like Manbij where the YPG withdrew and handed the control over to the regime -> Better have the Russians on board. 3. The US clearly intends to keep ignoring Turkey’s security concerns. There is a calculus behind that, of course, and the bases in Syria’s northeast must mean a lot to the US. Why else would they trigger the Turkish government to such an extent?
  • The rebel counteroffensive in Idlib came unexpected and ones again showed that foreign backing (arms, equipment) decides the outcome of battles in Syria. Great if you have an air force. In the last days, all significant local groups have attacked pro-regime forces on the western front of the regime corridor towards the Abu Duhur Air Base. Groups that maintain close relations with Turkey, Faylaq al-Sham in particular, used heavy weapons, armored cars and personal equipment provided by Turkey. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is also involved but apparently not in a leading position as it was in the former alliance Jaysh al-Fatah. 
  • The regime’s losses in Idlib are significant. However, due to the regime’s air power, rebels will likely be unable to hold territory in the lowland areas. 
Articles worth reading
Das Ende des Syrien-Krieges, verständlich erklärt
Syrien - Assad spinnt die Fäden des Friedens
Turkey's Erdogan Pivots to Target U.S.-Backed Force in Syria
Syria opposition accuses government of Damascus 'assassination'
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