[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Media Roundups Editors or of Salon Syria. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week’s roundup to info@SalonSyria.com by Monday night of every week.]
Seven Experts to Watch on De-Escalation Zones in Syria (August 31) Proposals to create safe zones inside Syria have been at the center of international diplomatic efforts in recent months. Syria Deeply highlights seven experts monitoring the proposals for safe zones in Syria and the foreign powers pushing for their creation.
How Jabhat al-Nusra Hijacked the Syrian Revolution (August 31) Battles between opposition groups in northern Syria have threatened the Syrian revolution and left Jabhat al-Nusra (now part of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) in control of Aleppo and Idlib; how did that happen?
Baghdadi alive but coalition does not ‘have a clue’ where he is: US general (September 1) US-led coalition against IS claim that Baghdadi likely to be in hiding in border area between Iraq and Syria.
Idlib Local Councils Face Crisis of Trust Under Difficult Circumstances (September 3) There is no doubt that local councils have filled a huge gap following the retreat of the state. But there are still many obstacles that challenge their work, some stemming from limited support, others from the lack of experience, and from traditional and anti-democratic patterns of thought.
Militias and Crony Capitalism to Hamper Syria Reconstruction (September 4) Despite the small economic impact of the Fair and a mortar attack which resulted in several deaths and confirmed the fragility of the security situation, the regime’s message through the organization of Trade Fair to local, regional and international actors was clear: Asad is here to stay and this is the beginning of the Syria’s reconstruction period.
Holocaust Museum Pulls Study Absolving Obama Administration for Inaction in Face of Syrian Genocide (September 5) A major United States Holocaust Memorial Museum study of the Obama Administration’s Syria policy was put on hold … after portions of the study given to Tablet were greeted with shock and harsh criticism by prominent Jewish communal leaders and thinkers.
Syria forces behind Khan Sheikhoun gas attack: UN probe (September 6) Investigation also confirms that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons more than 20 times during the war.
Israeli airstrike targets Syrian military site as tensions rise (September 7) Syria accused Israel of bombing a military site that has been linked to the production of chemical weapons, as well as missiles bound for the Hezbollah militant group, marking an escalation of cross-border incursions by Israeli jets.
Aid trucks enter Deir e-Zor city for first time in three years (September 7) The regime victory earlier this week ended the siege of the western, and more populous quarter, allowing food and supplies to enter for the first time in more than three years. Roughly half of the city still remains occupied by the Islamic State.
ISIL holds 11,100 blank Syrian passports: report (September 10) German authorities fear the passports could be used to bring potential attackers into Europe, Bild am Sonntag reports.
In eastern Syria, fears of revenge killings, tribal clashes after defeat of Islamic State (September 13) In Deir e-Zor, IS is not merely an invading, alien force. Since conquering the oil-rich, eastern desert province in 2014, IS has successfully exploited the region’s tribal order, co-opting local tribes with cash, weapons and positions of authority.
Quneitra farmers lose sole income as regime tariffs upend fragile agricultural balance: ‘I haven’t even begun to harvest’ (September 13) Farmers in rebel-held parts of Syria’s Quneitra province say they are losing thousands of dollars since regime forces introduced a tariff on their produce in recent months, disrupting a fragile economic balance in place between government and opposition territory in the country’s far southwest.
To achieve ‘dream’ of education, woman regularly risks dangerous journey out of Islamic State territory(September 14) When Wilaa goes to class, she must travel from a town controlled by an Islamic State affiliate and cross multiple enemy lines to reach Damascus University’s Daraa campus in the regime-held northern half of the provincial capital.
Divided Syrian opposition tries for unified army again (September 15) As the Syrian opposition faces major setbacks on the battlefield, the Syrian Interim Government and FSA factions have been discussing the formation of a unified national army in hopes of changing the tide.
Will China Get the Lion Share in Syria Reconstruction? (September 16) The ongoing development of China-Syria relations could have a significant impact on post-war Syria and the influence of Western governments and donors on the country’s future.
The Aga Khan wants to rebuild Aleppo’s Great Mosque (September 16) Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has funded major renovations from Lebanon to India, “but it will be difficult … we agreed with Syrian government and opposition, religious and civil authorities.”
President al-Assad: Syria is a homogeneous country; Christians are the basis of homeland (September 17) The meeting… dealt with the necessity of the Christian existence in Syria, in general, and the Syriac presence, in particular, as they are a basic element in the Syrian national structure with assertion on their deeply-rooted role in the face of the continued displacement attempts they have encountered by terrorism and its supporters.
Suwayda residents react to increased Russian presence on the ground (September 19) Beyond previous sporadic visits for aid distribution, today Russian personnel are based near and reportedly becoming a more familiar presence in Suwayda villages.
Trapped: The Desperation of Syria’s Displaced Civilians (September 19) By sealing their borders, Syria’s neighbors have blocked the escape routes of millions.
Regional and International Perspectives
A Move to Restore Dignity to Syria’s Victims ( September 15) Pursuing accountability for violating the dignity of a dead body may strike some as marginal in the carnage that is Syria. The opposite is true.
ISIS’s Expanding Campaign in Europe (September 17) ISIS’s attack campaign in Europe is expanding despite ISIS’s losses of terrain and senior leadership in the Middle East and North Africa. ISIS continues to plan, resource, and execute attacks from its remaining safe havens in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.
Policy and Reports
Syria’s Reconciliation Agreements (August 30) Raymond Hinnebusch & Omar Imady discuss local truces in the Syrian conflict and what the regime called reconciliation (Muslaha) agreements and the great powers later termed de-escalation or deconfliction zones.
To end a war: Europe’s role in bringing peace to Syria (September 12) European members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) should push for an approach that focuses on national politics hand in hand with de-escalation efforts, moving away from an approach that only phases the national angle in after a ceasefire takes hold.
Documentaries, Special Reports, and Other Media
Chemical weapons’ attacks documented by the Commission (Infographic) (6 September 2017) Infographic by Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic documents when and where chemical attacks took place as of September. 6. 2017.
The Carter Center: Weekly Conflict Summary. September 7-13, 2017 Pro-government forces and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, a Kurdish-led coalition backed by the US) have each advanced further against ISIS on their respective frontlines…The Syrian government awarded a large reconstruction contract worth 130 million Euros (~155 million USD) to Mabna, an Iranian company that specializes in electrical power plants and infrastructure.
The Carter Center: Weekly Conflict Summary. August 31-September 06, 2017 Pro-government forces made major advances eastward from their foothold south of Raqqa city. These gains led to the end of a years-long ISIS siege of Deir Ezzor…Russian negotiators reached an agreement with opposition leaders in northern Homs countryside that would allow the reopening of the road between Homs and Hama.
Syrian Refugee Children’s Uncertain School Aid (September 15) According to Human Rights Watch, more than 530,000 Syrian schoolchildren in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, the three countries with the largest number of Syrian refugees, were still out of school at the end of the 2016-2017 school year because of the lack of timely, transparent funding.
The Arabic version of this report can be found here: المساعدات المدرسية للأطفال السوريين اللاجئين يلفها الغموض
فدوى محمود في المشهد (September 15) On the fifth anniversary of the abduction of Dr. Abdul-aziz al-Khayer, a prominent member of ‘National Coordination Body for Democratic Change’, along with Maher Tahan and Iyas Ayash, on the way back from the airport to Damascus, Fadwa Mahmoud, a lifelong leftwing political dissident, shares what she knows about her husband (al-Khayer) and her son (Tahan).
شباك تذاكر: كفاح علي ديب تحكي لراديو الآن عن ملتقى المتحف في ألمانيا ودورهم كسوريين وعراقيين فيه(September 13) Kefah Ali Deeb, reflects on her experience as a volunteer tour guide involved in Multaka, a project in Berlin aims to provide newly- arrived Arabic-speaking refugees free tours of museums in Germany’s capital.
)18 (September د. دارم طباع مدير المركز الوطني لتطوير المناهج التربوية 18-09-2017 صباحنا غير
An interview with Darem Tabbaa, Director of The National Center for Curriculum Development, who responds to criticism raised by many Syrians on social media who criticized the new Syrian education curriculum.
Syrian Civil War Map (September 6) A map of the Syrian civil war that shows who controls what after five years of fighting.
Syria Situation Report: August 31 – September 14, 2017 This graphic depicts significant developments in the Syrian Civil War from August 31 to September 14, 2017. The control of terrain represented on the graphic is accurate as of September 14, 2017.
Activities of Rebuild Syria 2017 exhibition kicked off with the participation of 164 companies from 23 Arab, European, Asian and African states. The exhibition will be held from 19 to 23 September at Damascus International Fairgrounds.
أن تعيش الحرب “Living War,” the sixth chapter of Wendy Pearlman’s new book “We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled”
الجيش الحرّ ينشىء ثكنات عسكريّة في منطقة درع الفرات تمهيداً لإخلاء المدن من المظاهر المسلّحة “Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions in areas liberated during Operation Euphrates Shield in the Aleppo countryside are making significant efforts to eliminate their military checkpoints and armed presence in the small cities and towns under their control”.
The English version of this article can be found here: FSA relocating to outside Syria’s liberated areas
مسيحيو سورية This research traces the history of Christian communities in syria and their position after the Syrian uprising.
أغلفة الكتب المدرسية الجديدة تثير جدلا بين السوريين.. ما معانيها؟! Photos of the new Syrian education curriculum went viral on social media causing harsh criticism and Darem Tabbaa, Director of The National Center for Curriculum Development, responds.
استبدال قصيدة وخريطة بشكل فوري.. وزير التربية يشكل لجنة لدراسة كافة الملاحظات على المنهاج المطور Following a wave of criticisms to the new Syrian education curriculum, Education Minister Hazwan al-Waz issues a decision to replace a poem, written by a pro-opposition poet, and a map of Syria.
«داعشيان» من العراق وسوريا يرويان رحلتيهما مع التنظيم Two ISIS fighters from Syria and Iraq share their stories with the group.
يحاول صناع الفسيفساء في سوريا الحفاظ على الحرفةAfter years of war, however, many of the country’s ancient mosaics have been destroyed or looted. Contemporary mosaics, the work of Syrian craftsmen who struggle to keep up the craft of their grandfathers, find few if any buyers.
The English version of this article can be found here: Ancient Syrian mosaics crumble under weight of war
دفتر التلفونات السوريAmre Sawah writes about the telephone book and the nostalgic memories it brings to many Syrians.
[This article is published jointly in partnership with Jadaliyya.]