"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The role of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party in the civil war- Clingendael

The Eagles of the Whirlwind are one of the many militias that have fought on the part of President Assad’s forces in the Syrian civil war. The regime allowed it to defend and police Syrian territory and, in some cases, to fight alongside the Syrian Arab Army on the frontlines. The group proved to be a capable and effective paramilitary auxiliary. What makes the Eagles of interest is that its parent political party - the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) – was able to increase the space for its political activities in exchange for the battlefield services of its militia. This is not a mean feat under the authoritarian system of decades of Assad-rule that brooked no political diversity whatsoever. It is all the more remarkable because the SSNP has historically been a political rival to the Syrian Ba’ath party. 
This policy brief analyses the main interests and dynamics by which the SSNP managed to translate the battlefield support and achievements of the Eagles into ministerial positions and open recruitment rallies for party members across regime-held territory. It also examines the SSNP as a novel form of support to the Assad regime that traded greater political auton¬omy for paramilitary mobilization in support of the regime - without, so far, resulting in a more permanent role for the Eagles in the Syrian security architecture. While accepting greater political autonomy for the SSNP was a price the Assad regime was willing to pay for extra auxiliary fighting capacity, it remains to be seen how durable the SSNP’s hard-won autonomy will be. 

Friday, January 04, 2019

March 8 Sunni MPs Rule Out Govt. Formation if Demand Not Met- Naharnet

The Consultative Gathering, a newly-formed bloc of six Hizbullah-backed Sunni MPs, has ruled out an imminent government formation if its demand to get a cabinet seat is not fulfilled.
Quoting informed sources, al-Liwaa newspaper said the MPs “have not yet received any phone call or information about the solutions that are being prepared.”
“But in the face of the leaked information about candidates other than those proposed by them, they have decided to reiterate their stance that rejects any candidate other than the nine nominees presented by them at the beginning of the negotiations,” the sources added, identifying the nine candidates as the six members of the Consultative Gathering in addition to Othman al-Majzoub, Hassan Mrad and Sheikh Taha Naji.

Parts of Lebanon Go on Strike to Protest Economic Conditions- Naharnet

Parts of Lebanon's public and private sectors have gone on strike called for by the country's labor unions to protest worsening economic conditions and months of delay in the formation of a new government.
Friday's strike was called for this week by the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers, with the backing of the new cross-sectarian Sabaa Party. The veteran Progressive Socialist Party and Kataeb Party have also voiced support for the move.
Beirut's port was closed, as were several other state institutions, such as the National Social Security Fund and the electricity company, which had the gates to its compound closed with chains.

HTŞ ile muhalifler arasındaki çatışmalar şiddetleniyor- Şarkul Avsat

Suriye’nin kuzey ve batı illerinde Heyet Tahrir el-Şam (HTŞ) ile muhalif gruplar arasındaki savaş çemberi genişledi.  

Özgür Suriye Ordusu’na (ÖSO) bağlı Suriye Ulusal Kurtuluş Cephesi komutanlarından biri, perşembe günü Alman Basın Ajansı’na (DPA) verdiği demeçte, Ulusal Kurtuluş Cephesi'nin İdlib, Hama ve Halep kırsallarında bulunan HTŞ unsurları ile şiddetli çatışmalara girdiğini ve HTŞ’nin 15 unsurunun batı Halep kırsalında Ulusal Kurtuluş Cephesi savaşçıları tarafından pusuya düşürülerek öldürüldüğünü söyledi. HTŞ ile girilen çatışmaların ardından Halep'in batı kırsalındaki Kafr Nasih beldesinin kontrol altına alındığını belirten komutan, HTŞ’nin kontrolü altında bulunan Hama kırsalındaki Tirmala köyünün Ulusal Kurtuluş Cephesi tarafından ele geçirildiğini kaydetti.

Askeri komutan sözlerini şöyle sürdürdü:

“Bölgede çatışmalar hala devam ediyor. HTŞ ile Ulusal Kurtuluş Cephesi’ne bağlı Ahraru'ş Şam hareketi arasında el-Mustariha ve Midan Gezal köylerinde ağır makineli tüfeklerle şiddetli çatışmalar yaşanıyor. Ulusal Kurtuluş Cephesi'ne bağlı Nureddin Zengi Hareketi’nin savaşçıları, HTŞ’nin iki gün önce girdiği Darut İzze kasabanın kontrolünü yeniden ele geçirmek için perşembe gününden bu yana savaşıyor."


Thursday, January 03, 2019

US doubles down on military aid to Lebanon- Al-Monitor

The Donald Trump administration is providing the Lebanese army with more than $100 million in upgrades to tanks and attack helicopters in the latest US effort to stem the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Lebanon should invite Syria to Arab economic summit: Hezbollah- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Hezbollah said Thursday that “it is in Lebanon’s interest” for Syria to be invited to the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit, which will be held in Beirut near the end of this month.
Lebanon, Hezbollah said, is Syria’s “closest and most important neighbor” and should be at the “forefront” of initiators for Syria’s return to the Arab League, from which it has been suspended since 2011.
Damascus’ membership in the league was suspended following the outbreak of the Syrian war. But a source from Lebanon’s presidential palace told The Daily Star recently that Syria could rejoin if foreign ministers from the member states, who are scheduled to meet in Beirut on Jan. 18, the day before the summit is scheduled to begin, choose to reinstate the country.
In that case, the Baabda Palace source said, “we will immediately send an invitation to Damascus.”
Following a meeting of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc Thursday, the party issued a statement noting “a positive Arab” attitude toward Syria as well as Arab states’ recent, “accelerated” return to Damascus.
Last month, notorious Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir made an official visit to Damascus, and a week later Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk met in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart. Then this past week, the United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus, and a Syrian passenger flight flew to Tunisia for the first time in nearly eight years.

Could Syria re-enter Arab League through Lebanon?- Daily Star

BEIRUT: As the new year kicks off and Arab governments warm up to the Syrian regime, the next opportunity for all Arab nations - and possibly Syria - to convene in one room will be in Beirut this month.
Lebanon is set to host the 2019 Arab Economic and Social Development Summit from Jan. 19-20. The foreign ministers of the Arab League members will meet one day earlier, on Jan. 18.
The one Arab state that will be absent - for now - is Syria.
Damascus’ membership was suspended in 2011 following the outbreak of the Syrian war, and most Arab countries severed diplomatic ties with President Bashar Assad’s regime shortly thereafter.
But this all changed in the final days of 2018, when, on Dec. 16, notorious Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir made an official visit to Damascus. Less than a week later, Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk met in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart.
In between that time, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that American troops would withdraw from Syria (though he now appears to be backtracking).
Then on Dec. 27, the United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus.
If the trend continues - and political sources say this is inevitable - it’s only a matter of time before Syria is again permitted representation in the Arab League, whose chartered mission is to work for the common interest of Arab states.
And Lebanon may be Syria’s door of re-entry.
There are “only two ways” for Syria’s readmission to happen, according to a source from Lebanon’s presidential palace. Though unlikely, Syria could rejoin when the foreign ministers meet in Beirut on Jan. 18. “If they decide [on having Syria reinstated], we will immediately send an invitation to Damascus,” the Baabda Palace source added.

British Embassy in Syria mysteriously under construction- Al-Masdar News

The British Embassy in Damascus is undergoing construction, despite the fact that it was closed at the start of the Syrian conflict.

According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent who visited the site, the British Embassy in Damascus was indeed under construction, marking the first time since its closure that any work has been done to the building.

About 20 Syrian army soldiers have been reportedly killed in an ISIS attack in the Euphrates Valley- South Front

A group of ISIS fighters crossed to the western bank of the Euphrates River at the early hours of January 2 and attacked a camp of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the town of al-Siyal, according to the Syrian pro-government al-Masdar News blog.
The terrorists, who came from the remaining ISIS positions on the eastern bank of the river, stormed the camp and managed to killed more than 20 Syrian soldiers. Al-Masdar News said that most of the casualties were killed while they were sleeping.
In the last few months, ISIS launched several similar attacks on SAA positions along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. It’s still unclear how the terrorist group is still able to cross the river despite that it is supposedly monitored by the US-led coalition, which is besieging the ISIS-held pocket there.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

400 Kurdish YPG Militants Leave Manbij Under Deal With Damascus- Sputnik News

Earlier, a Sputnik correspondent reported that Syrian Army units had deployed near Manbij in a bid to prevent a possible Turkish military operation in the Syrian Kurdish-controlled area.
About 400 Syrian Kurdish YPG militants left Manbij in 30 vehicles since January 1 after reaching an agreement with Damascus to withdraw from the area, the Syrian Defence Ministry has announced in a press statement.
According to the Defence Ministry, the militia units left Manbij for the east bank of the Euphrates River.
The Defence Ministry released a video showing the Kurdish forces' withdrawal on its Facebook page.