What happened in #Daraa today was not a surprise -- it's been on the cards for 2+ years.

#Assad won't "reconcile" with opponents he has labeled "germs" since 2011 & #Russia has unsurprisingly proven incapable of facilitating the impossible.

This is why UNSCR 2254 exists.
In 2019-20, the most consistently unstable region of #Syria was #Daraa.

Far from being "reconciled," the "cradle of the revolution" had been brutally suppressed & forced to a surrender - & few/none of its conditions were later met.

That's no solution to a decade-long hostility.
When #Syria's largest "reconciled zone" is the country's most unstable, you have incontrovertible evidence that #Russia's reconciliation strategy is a failure.

#Syria will never stabilize with an unchallenged #Assad at the helm - this ought to be clear by today.
#Assad's #Syria is now the #MiddleEast's narco state -- funneling *billions* of dollars of narcotics as far afield as #Europe.

It's deeply unstable, reliant wholly on repression & as such, ~6 million refugees in neighboring states aren't returning, at all -- crippling economies.
In 2014, #ISIS (a symptom) provided a years-long distraction from the root causes of #Syria's crisis & the West's attention has waned ever since.

In early-2018, the U.S. was complicit in selling out #Daraa to #Russia -- U.S. officials knew full well it'd be besieged & conquered.
#Russia's offer of "reconciliation" (& promises to block #Iran from being active in the south) were a sufficient carrot to get the U.S. to cut off their years-old & most consistent/reliable #FSA partners, the Southern Front.

= #Iran never left.
= Reconciliation failed.
Western officials' standard position now amounts to 'kicking the can down the road' -- a status quo approach that in truth is unsustainable.

That's just not enough -- the trajectory we're on points to #Syria evolving into a regional plague alike #NorthKorea & #Somalia combined.
Similarly, the position embraced by some in the region -- to normalize with #Assad, embrace #Russia & isolate #Iran/#Turkey -- is a recipe for disaster.

Reinforcing all the root causes & drivers of #Syria's instability is a fools' errand, but it's walking steadily forward.

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More from @Charles_Lister

15 Jul
This all sounds eerily familiar & we all know what happened last time…

Incidentally, a step-by-step #Iraq withdrawal will impede & eventually kill the U.S. D-#ISIS presence too - where the fate of 10,000s or #ISIS-linked individuals remains entirely up in the air.
There are a lot of unknowns here:

- What's "step by step"?
- Are the steps conditional or unconditional/predetermined?
- What's the timeline?
- OIR has no combat troops, so language here is ambiguous.

Is #Baghdad playing politics again & making a mountain out of a molehill?
I'd guess that NSC #MiddleEast Coordinator McGurk asserted the existing USG position -- that U.S. troops won't be in #Iraq forever; the mission is changing (combat to advisory); and a withdrawal will gradually happen.

#Baghdad has pounced on that to assuage internal concerns.
Read 6 tweets
12 Jul
With a deal done at UNSC on Friday, cross-border aid will continue flowing via Bab al-Hawa, but doubts about #Russia's obstructionism remain; needs [will] continue to rise & perceived concessions raise Qs re. the long-term.

My latest for @MiddleEastInst:
@MiddleEastInst "Any money that is sent to the U.N. mission in #Damascus in one way or another benefits the regime."

- My comments to @ForeignPolicy's @columlynch regarding a likely increase in funding to cross-line aid coordinated in #Damascus:

@MiddleEastInst @ForeignPolicy @columlynch While most UNSC members are convinced the 2nd 6-month cross-border extension will be automatic, #Russia doesn't seem convinced.

Thanks to @pass_blue for highlighting my analysis following Friday's crunch UNSC vote on #Syria aid:

Read 4 tweets
6 Jul
The stakes involved in this UNSC #Syria vote are huge -- yet it shouldn't be a subject of debate at all.

Making use of its UN veto, #Russia seeks to starve #Syrians into submission -- for a guide to the issue, read this, by Jeffrey Feltman & myself:

#Russia claims that cross-border aid should end & be replaced by cross-line assistance sent from #Damascus -- but that's BS.

For the 4.5m people in NW #Syria in the last 12 months:

- Cross-border: ~12,000 trucks
- Cross-line: 0

Negotiations for cross-line have gone nowhere.
In recent weeks, every single UN body & all major INGOs have made it 100% clear: "there's no alternative to cross-border aid."

Given #Russia's pitiful role in UN aid to #Syria (most years, IKEA funds more than #Moscow), it's simply exasperating that it would cut it altogether.
Read 6 tweets
26 Jun
Earlier this evening, penholders #Norway/#Ireland distributed a draft resolution specifying that crossings at Bab al-Hawa (NW) & al-Yaroubiya (NE) should be opened July 10.

In response, @USAmbUN has indicated the U.S. still demands all 3 crossings be opened (+ Bab al-Salameh).
@USAmbUN Though it's still early days, the effect of U.S pressure & behind-scenes face-off/negotiations has begun to emerge:

- @RussiaUN publicly praised recent U.S. sanctions safeguards & #COVID-linked sanctions easing
- @USAmbUN asserted support for cross-line being 'part of solution.'
@USAmbUN @RussiaUN This would give some credence to things I've heard privately & what Joey Hood suggested in an earlier @StateDept_NEA briefing -- that there's some hope that a compromise will be found that allows cross-border (at minimum, via Bab al-Hawa) to continue.

Qs is, what's driving that?
Read 4 tweets
21 Jun
At my count, the #Taliban have captured 30+ districts across #Afghanistan in 48hrs -- 100s of #ANA forces have surrendered & handed over bases, arms depots, weapons & vehicles.

The pace of the #Taliban's advance since the U.S. withdrawal announcement is shocking.
According to @oryxspioenkop, the #ANA has handed over 83 U.S-provided Humvees to the #Taliban in the past 3 days alone.

Over the past 3 weeks: 149 Humvees.

Meaningful numbers of howitzers have been surrendered too.
@oryxspioenkop Since the U.S. withdrawal announcement, the #Taliban has taken control of 75+ districts across #Afghanistan -- that's ~20% of the country.

The most movement has been in the north -- in Faryab & Kunduz, where the #Taliban now enjoy almost unchallenged freedom of movement.
Read 9 tweets
2 Jun
Protests continue in #Manbij for the 3rd day today, as locals demonstrate against the #SDF's policy of forced conscription.

The tensions have turned deadly this time, with 6+ dead.

Nearby, #Turkey artillery has also struck #SDF positions - intriguingly leading to an #SAA death. ImageImage
Beyond the tensions that #SDF conscription has caused within Arab-majority communities, the financial implications are of particular significance.

The last I heard 3 weeks ago, the #AANES has 300,000+ people on the payroll (civilian & armed) -- and revenue is shrinking, fast.
The U.S -- first under #Obama, then #Trump & now #Biden -- positioned the #SDF not just as the frontline vs. #ISIS, but also as a rival to #Assad's regime.

To match that expectation, the #SDF needed to grow & achieve Arab balance -- BUT we're now actively removing its revenue.
Read 7 tweets

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