The Vicious Circle of Revenge





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December 29 · Issue #70 · View online
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq.

Key developments
  • 41 people with severe diseases were allowed to leave besieged East Ghouta in exchange for the release of 29 detainees held by the leading rebel faction Jaish al-Islam. This was a prisoner-swap (if you consider the more than 300.000 besieged people to be the regime’s prisoners) and not a concession.
  • In a speech, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called Bashar al-Assad a ‘terrorist’ who hinders peace. In a way, Turkey has accepted Assad’s presidency but at the same time, Turkey’s efforts in northwestern Syria that include the establishment of an allied local administration, the training of local police forces, some kind of army and the support for the Syrian Interim Government suggest that Turkey does not intend to hand over the Euphrates-Shield pocket soon. 
  • According to reports, rebels in Bayt Jinn, a city in the northern part of rebel-controlled territory in the Syrian-Israeli-Lebanese border area, are negotiating a transfer to Idlib. Bayt Jinn has been encircled by Iranian-led units.
  • In Idlib and Hama, the pro-regime offensive is ongoing. Dozens of fighters from all sides have been killed. Russian air and logistical support appears to be significant. Combined with a decline of arms deliveries to rebels, notably TOWs, the loyalist forces are advancing. 
  • Syrian State Minister for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar said that the so called deescalation zones would have no choice but join the (forced) local reconciliation process. The corresponding offensives in Hama, Idlib, Ghouta and Daraa are already ongoing. 
  • Important Syrian rebel groups, including Ahrar al-Sham, have rejected the Russian-led talks in Sochi that are scheduled for Jan. 29-30 in Sochi. The question who will and who will not attend remains open in general. The Kurdish YPG said that Russia has promised them to send a delegation of 155 representatives. Turkey still rejects such plans. 
Articles worth reading
Kommt nach dem IS die Rache? "Es ist undenkbar, einfach zu vergessen"
Are Shia Militias Jihadist?
Down but not out: ISIL will regroup and rise again
What Went Wrong in Syria?
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