#Syria's regime appears to be facing a sharp increase in public criticism from across its population - people are exasperated at rife corruption & incompetence.

In lieu of this, secret police have been behind a spate of arrests targeting prominent critics, many of them #Alawite.
#pt: While some observers in the West [inaccurately] attribute #Syria's deep economic crisis to sanctions, #Assad's "loyalist critics" don't appear to be convinced -- they've been laying the blame squarely at the regime & parliament's doorsteps.

i.e. the propaganda is faltering.
#pt: No matter where you look in #Assad-held areas, the regime is clearly unable to provide, govern, secure or stabilize.

For the many Syrians who've stood by the regime since '11, their sacrificed 'blood & treasure' appear to have been merely for Bashar -- no reciprocal award.
#pt: From the Syrians I know who've remained in #Assad-held territories since '11, there are 2 main assertions:

1) There is truly no light at the end of the tunnel, absolutely no prospect for hope.

2) The height of the war in '14-15 was easier than facing today's challenges.
#pt: Economic collapse next-door in #Lebanon catalyzed a financial crisis in #Syria based mainly on a lack of access to foreign currency (via #Beirut) - resulting in inflation (SYP now 3000:$1) & the death of the middle class.

Getting bread on the table is now a daily challenge.
#pt: The depreciation of the SYP has compounded #Syria's fuel crisis (as has pressure on #Iran's economy), leaving #Damascus unable to afford sufficient supplies, shipped in mainly from #Iran.

Plus subsidy cuts, declining imports & no domestic job creation/investments.
#pt: Faced by a seemingly irreversible economic spiral, neither #Russia or #Iran appear willing or able to bail #Assad out -- financially or via increased supplies.

For e.g - #Moscow has refused/held back wheat supplies despite the bread crisis & #Iran has refused new oil rates.
#pt: On the security side, southern #Syria is crumbling as #Russia's "reconciliation" strategy collapses in on itself -- its own "former rebel" proxies are attacking regime targets & blocking attempts to resolve local conflicts.

Plus rising anger in #Druze-majority #Suwayda.
#pt: The regime besieged, starved & carpet bombed #Daraa in mid-'18, coercing a mass surrender of #Syria's south.

Since then, it's provided zero aid & no stabilization assistance. #Iran & #Hezbollah flooded back, alongside #Assad loyalists. And Russia deployed 100 MPs.

= Chaos.
#pt: #Daraa was meant to be #Russia's case study in how to resolve #Syria's conflict -- instead, it exemplifies just how incapable #Moscow is in doing so. It simply co-opted rebels & gave them a new badge, only to breath new life into their outright hostility to #Assad & #Iran.
#pt: In the central 'Badiya', #ISIS is clearly resurging, thanks in large part to the pro-regime alliance's inability (#Syria/#Russia/#Iran) to conduct an effective ISR/COIN campaign.

The trajectory here is *very* concerning & makes a mockery of the "leave it to #Russia" pitch.
#pt: Plus we have ongoing conflicts in NW, N & NE #Syria, plus #Turkey-Kurd & #Israel-#Iran hostilities.

Not to forget #COVID, no reconstruction, OPCW allegations, deepening corruption & a *major* humanitarian crisis on the near horizon:

#pt: Beyond #Syria, another issue worthy of serious attention is refugees -- nearly 6 million of which show zero sign of returning, thus placing a permanent & unsustainable strain on #Turkey, #Lebanon & #Jordan.

For many reasons, we simply cannot accept they're staying forever.
#pt: All of this thread makes clear that #Syria's crisis is a long, long way from being resolved & assuming today's trajectory is sustained (frankly, it's likely to worsen), serious instability & regional spillover is - again - inevitable.

That cannot be allowed to transpire.
#pt: Given the state of affairs today & the clear trajectory #Syria is on, as well as the blatant evidence of how #Syria's crisis has destabilized the world since '11, proposals for #America to hand 25% more of #Syria to #Assad are utterly reckless & seemingly blind to reality.
#pt: U.S. & collective allied influence & leverage in #Syria might not be what is was before, but it's certainly not negligible as some insist on claiming -- #Assad's self-inflicted economic collapse has revealed a new vulnerability & opening for a serious diplomatic initiative.
#pt: To wash our hands of #Syria today would make the 2010-11 #Iraq withdrawal look like childsplay in terms of consequences -- more than anyone perhaps, #ISIS couldn't wish for a better scenario.

The chaos that'd ensure could quite likely ruin the Levant region long-term.

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More from @Charles_Lister

3 Feb
This is great by @jeromedrev & @patrickhaenni -- #HTS has come to represent something uniquely challenging.

After violently achieving domination (vs. #FSA, #AQ & #ISIS), it's now pursuing a policy of "gradual opening & mainstreamisation," giving concessions & seeking acceptance.
@jeromedrev @patrickhaenni The U.S, #Europe & #Turkey should press #HTS to address concerns & "define clear benchmarks which (if met) could enable HTS to shed its “terrorist” label," argue @dkhalifa & @NoahBonsey.

Doing so would symbolize a new diplomacy+military approach to CT.

crisisgroup.org/middle-east-no… Image
@jeromedrev @patrickhaenni @dkhalifa @NoahBonsey Following yesterday's public revelation of #HTS hosting @frontlinepbs (& others) in #Idlib, my thread below details how the former #AlQaeda affiliate has adapted in recent yrs & created new realities & challenges/dilemmas we'll have to deal w. eventually:

Read 4 tweets
2 Feb
Very, very interesting.

#HTS & its leader Abu Mohammed al-Jolani have just finished hosting @frontlinepbs's @Martin28Smith in #Idlib for 3 days.

How times change -- quite a difference from 2014/15.
@frontlinepbs @Martin28Smith #pt: It's no secret that #HTS has been pushing hard behind-the-scenes for opportunities to improve its image abroad -- first in outreach to researchers/institutes & more recently giving top access to highly-regarded media outlets.

And fwiw, PBS is one of several.
@frontlinepbs @Martin28Smith #pt: That #HTS is pushing this shouldn't come as a surprise -- the ingredients were put in place as far back as 2015, when a prolonged internal debate regarding the right path for Jabhat al-Nusra began. Clerical "lobby groups" got involved & then #JFS was created; then #HTS.
Read 14 tweets
21 Jan
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.
Read 10 tweets
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:

storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/f353d0… 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:

mei.edu/blog/monday-br… 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:

washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/… Image
Read 4 tweets

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