Prioritizing or re-energizing diplomacy on #Syria policy does not necessitate ceding leverage & bestowing concessions to a criminal regime.

If pressure has failed to secure regime compromise, granting it breathing space certainly isn't -- it'll facilitate accelerated repression.
To wrest back 2/3 of #Syria under his control, #Assad 'burned the country' & 'cleansed his population' (his words).

That consequences of that scorched earth policy are now coming clear: a wrecked economy, broken society, crumbling state, rife corruption, warlordism & terrorism.
US & EU sanctions are not the cause of the collapse of the SYP, nor the existence of warlords, corrupt elite or an eroding middle class -- that's the result of #Assad's 10yrs of uncompromising, all-out war on his own people/country.

Removing sanctions is not some magic solution.
If US priorities in #Syria were [minimally] limited to CT, CW prevention & alleviating humanitarian suffering, we should recognize by now that all of these issues will be sustained or even accelerated were #Assad re-empowered -- not ended.

We're talking root causes vs. symptoms.
As a new @JoeBiden administration takes form, reassessing 10yrs of #Syria policy is unquestionably necessary -- but ignoring a decade of regime behavior would not be an ideal starting point.

#Assad has only ever blinked when he's perceived threat -- not when treated nicely.
@JoeBiden Now for some, "threat" sounds like military action (as with #Turkey in Feb 2020), but it doesn't have to be.

The consequences of #Syria's financial collapse have barely begun to emerge & as the gateway to solving that, we do hold leverage.

Hard diplomacy? Yes.
Conciliation? No.
@JoeBiden This point by @ejbeals should go without saying, but it does appear we need to keep repeating it -- #Syria's ~6 million refugees are not going back w/o substantial change at home.

- "Returns aren't a lower hanging fruit than a peace deal."
@JoeBiden @ejbeals 1) To suggest we should (a) accept the displacement of ~6 million #Syria refugees & (b) find "durable solutions for them elsewhere" is a non-starter, & appalling.

2) Keeping #Assad all-in *guarantees* -- as extensive polling has shown -- no returns & more repression/instability.
@ejbeals 3) On the contrary, the best way to facilitate additional/renewed outward refugee flows would be to "relieve pressure" on #Syria's economy -- #Assad has consistently signaled his strategic priority: 'retaking every inch of #Syria.'

Being bankrupt, his means to do so are limited.
@ejbeals The logic that leads to proposals like this is agonizingly disconnected from reality & the [root] sources of #Syria's intractable instability, displacement & economic ruin.

Let's not forget, *the most unstable* areas of #Syria today are those retaken by #Assad in 2018.

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More from @Charles_Lister

22 Oct 20
Unless it's the case of 2 men with the same name, the name Samer Souad is/was an infamous smuggler who became particularly wealthy from fuel smuggling & black market trading in #Idlib.

Initially linked to Jamal Maarouf, some claimed he was linked to #HTS in recent years.
In addition to Samer Souad, locals also claim influential #HTS commander Abdulqader Tahhan (aka Abu Bilal Qadas) was at the targeted location outside #Salqin.

Qadas was given responsibility for Jisr al-Shughour security, following #HTS's recent crackdown on #AlQaeda loyalists.
Here's an image of the late-night meeting held in Jakara outside #Salqin -- reportedly convening #HTS security officials with other local notables.

Casualties likely to be more than the initially cited "2." Image
Read 15 tweets
20 Oct 20
Wow -- This is an extraordinary piece of work by @OSFJustice & @syrian_archive.

*The* definitive guide to #Syria's Scientific Studies & Research Center (SSRC), responsible for #Assad's chemical weapons program:… Image
@OSFJustice @syrian_archive The @OSFJustice & @syrian_archive detail the #SSRC's structure & its evolution:

- Jamraya Center

- Branch 450 (for storing, mixing & loading warheads pre-attack), supervised by #Assad, with Units in Safira (416), Khan Abu Al-Shamat (417), Latakia (418) & #Aleppo (419) ImageImage
@OSFJustice @syrian_archive #pt: #Syria's #SSRC cont'd:

- Institute 1000 (Electronics Institute), to produce electronic & computerized systems in a tunnel complex in Jamraya.

- Institute 2000 (Mechanical Institute), whose engineers cooperate with #NorthKorea & #Iran / produced barrel bombs & IRAMs. ImageImageImageImage
Read 5 tweets
19 Oct 20
NEW - My brief analysis on reports of a high-level #Trump admin visit to #Assad's #Damascus in August -- timing, delegation & context raise substantial questions about #Syria policy:… Image
NEW - In response to reports of recent #Trump White House visit to #Syria, @SecPompeo says:

- “We will continue to work for the return not only of Austin but every American that’s held... [But] we’re not going to change American policy to do that.”

(i.e. no big deal on table)
@SecPompeo “Working to bring #American hostages home is always a noble endeavor... But our govt must engage in such efforts without legitimizing terrorist groups or absolving people who tortured U.S. citizens.”

- @joshrogin raises some important points/questions:… Image
Read 4 tweets
24 Aug 20
All 45 participants - 15 from regime, 15 independents, 15 opposition - were tested before flying to #Geneva.

Quite how 3/45 slipped through the cracks is extraordinary.

If they [presumably] came from #Damascus, it speaks volumes about the crisis there.
Two sources confirm to me all 3 positive cases came from #Damascus.

What's troubling is that all 45 participants had been tested for #COVID *before* traveling to #Geneva & tested again on arrival in #Switzerland.

Somehow 3 positive cases slipped through that @UN-run process.
@UN NEW - Official statement from UN S/E Pedersen's office confirms #Syria's Constitutional Committee sessions in #Geneva are "on hold" after 3/45 participants tested positive for #COVID19. Image
Read 8 tweets
9 Jul 20
"Life Inside #Syria's al-Hol Camp"

- After interviewing 20 camp residents, @MEI_CTE scholar @vera_mironov delves deep into who lives in al-Hol? How do they relate to #ISIS? Who's escaping? How do they acquire money? & more.

REALLY important work:…
@MEI_CTE @vera_mironov According to @vera_mironov's work, only a small minority of al-Hol residents genuinely support #ISIS - many others fake loyalty as a source of financial support (from #ISIS directly or foreign donors).

This drives many expressions of ultra radicalism or fake claims of attacks.
@MEI_CTE @vera_mironov One al-Hol resident claimed to @vera_mironov:

- "What #ISIS enforcement can we talk about, I feel like we're in #Europe here. Many females have sex with male camp workers... We constantly hear about 13-year-old boys having sex with girls or even try to rape other younger boys."
Read 6 tweets
30 Jun 20
This thread by @hxhassan is worth a read -- #HTS's violent response to #AlQaeda affiliate Huras Al-Din's overreach will have significant consequences.

A few additional notes of my own, to follow:

- This is all entirely consistent with #HTS/#JFS/#Nusra policy since ~2014.
@hxhassan My understanding of events leading up to the all-out fight differs somewhat -- #HTS's arrest of Abu Saloh al-Uzbeki
& Abu Malik al-Talli were *very* inflammatory to HaD. Both were crucial sources of finance & external networks. Plus, they came amid several escalatory accusations:
@hxhassan 1. After Abu Saloh's arrest, rumor swirled that #Turkey's MIT had transferred messages from #Moscow to #HTS, requesting his extradition via #Ankara in exchange for political & economic rewards.

Abu Saloh is accused of coordinating multiple attacks in #Russia in recent yrs.
Read 14 tweets

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