Charles Lister Profile picture
Senior Fellow & Director of @MEI_Syria & @MEI_CTE programs at @MiddleEastInst. Sanctioned by Russia, PNG’d by Syria & Iran, & wanted by ISIS & AQ.
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Feb 3 8 tweets 2 min read
Since 2012, #Iran has been building & consolidating a formidable network of proxies across #Syria & #Iraq -- dozens of groups & 150,000+ members, all financed, trained & armed by the #IRGC.

In #Syria, they engaged in ethnic cleansing & war crimes -- completely unchallenged. During the formative years of 2012-16, #Obama's admin consciously ignored the #IRGC's militia surge in #Syria -- dismissing it as unimportant to U.S. interests.

In 2015, orders were even granted for U.S. forces to deconflict & coordinate with #Iran's proxies in #Iraq, vs. #ISIS.
Dec 5, 2023 4 tweets 1 min read
It’s staggering how much traction this thread got, when it fails to acknowledge one basic fact:

- It takes time to get bodies out of rubble amid intense bombing & to ID bodies (by age, gender) when they’re shredded or in pieces.

Data gets retrospectively updated. That’s normal. The same has been true in #Syria, #Yemen & many other acute conflict zones.

The @StateDept has told Congress the #Gaza HM data is an undercount. Why? Because in every previous conflict its data has been +/- 1-3% off post-conflict analysis by #Israel, the U.S., the EU & the UN.
Oct 31, 2023 4 tweets 1 min read
#Putin [rightly] gets slammed for firing cruise missiles into residential buildings in #Ukraine, but when #Israel vaporizes an entire residential block, it's ok & "like the tunnels of Chu Chi."

I'm sorry, but if our principles can't be universal, they count for nothing. Image #Hamas' evil massacre in #Israel revealed its true colors -- and the group deserves & requires rooting out.

But a scorched earth campaign in which civilians are paying the overwhelming price is a recipe for disaster. We're watching Hamas 2.0's seeds being sown, bomb by bomb.
Aug 31, 2023 8 tweets 3 min read
Heavy fighting continues today, as the death toll reaches 75+.

Overnight, senior Akeidat tribal voices began calling for an anti-#SDF insurgency, which could be *very* significant.

Some of the heaviest fighting is within 10mins of the US “Green Village” base at the Omar Fields. As fighting escalates further in Deir ez Zour, reports suggest the #SDF has lost 18+ villages & towns to tribal forces.

Since the Akeidat calls earlier today, there are also reports of amassed Arab #SDF defections to the tribes, handing over checkpoints.

Serious, serious news.
Aug 16, 2023 8 tweets 4 min read
#Syria's Pound is on the brink of hyperinflation.

In 1 month, the SYP has lost 47% of its value (from 10,500 to 15,500 per $1).

Normalizing #Assad's regime has been an absolute disaster -- most of all for #Syria's people. #Syria's al-Suwayda governorate & parts of #Daraa governorate have gone on general strike today, protesting against ever-spiraling costs of living amid #Assad regime corruption & incompetence.

Main roads shut-down, town centers filled with demonstrators calling for "liberation."

Mar 11, 2023 21 tweets 17 min read
I’ve just returned from NE #Syria, where I visited the U.S. military’s RLZ base in Rumeilan, the al-Roj & al-Hol camps, as well as Ghuweiran Prison – all alongside @CENTCOM Commander Kurilla.

An incredibly insightful trip, with a lot of takeaways.
After arriving on a C-17 at RLZ -- the beating heart of the #Syria-based mission – I saw how U.S. troops operated multiple drone flights, collected & assessed ISR, monitored air traffic for hostile threats, and coordinated D-#ISIS operations across the northeast. Image
Feb 9, 2023 6 tweets 7 min read
Amid years of criticism, @UN officials constantly reiterate their commitment to "the humanitarian imperative" in #Syria.

But let's be honest: that's BS.

The @UN is more concerned about managing their relations in #Damascus than prioritizing the lives of those in the northwest. @UN Leadership at @UN HQ has consistently kowtowed to #Assad regime demands; allowed the systematic weaponization of aid & failed to crackdown on regime-fueled corruption within the aid system.

Investigations into all these issues -- & CWs too -- are often squashed or kept private.
Feb 8, 2023 10 tweets 11 min read
#Assad's regime, its supporters & a plethora of uninformed commentators are driving a call for punitive sanctions on the regime to be removed to facilitate aid delivery to #Syria.

This is absolute nonsense.

It has no basis in facts.

It's nothing but a regime talking point. Let’s start with some facts:

- 90% of the multi-billion dollar aid effort that goes through #Damascus comes from the U.S, U.K, E.U. & #Canada -- who also happen to be the x4 sanctioning entities.

In all cases, humanitarian waivers are in place to ensure the free flow of aid.
Feb 8, 2023 4 tweets 7 min read
The admin of Bab al-Hawa crossing -- the sole route open for UN aid to NW #Syria -- confirms that 3 days in, zero aid has arrived from the international community.

#Assad's regime is getting aid from the @UN + #Russia, #Egypt, #Algeria, #UAE, #Saudi, #Tunisia, #Iraq & #Iran. Image @UN In NW #Syria, financial donations are coming in from abroad, but nothing in terms of real-world assistance.

They need manpower, fuel, equipment, food, shelter etc.

#Egypt managed to get a team of rescue specialists in to aid @SyriaCivilDefe, but it's unclear how they got there. Image
Feb 7, 2023 4 tweets 4 min read
* Let me make this concretely clear:

Punitive sanctions on #Assad's regime have zero effect on the influx of aid into regime-held areas of #Syria.

Moreover, the x3 sanctioning entities (U.S., E.U. & #Canada) provide 90% of the ~$5bn aid program directed through #Damascus. That UN aid program in #Damascus is an enormous effort -- & without Western funding, it'd vanish almost instantly.

Our governments continue to fund it to help those in need, in regime areas, *despite* the #Assad regime's systematic manipulation & diversion of the aid for 12yrs.
Feb 6, 2023 34 tweets 31 min read
Northwestern #Syria#Idlib & #Aleppo in particular — have suffered 12yrs of brutal conflict. More than 65% of the basic infrastructure of the area is destroyed or heavily damaged.

Tonight’s earthquake couldn’t have hit a more vulnerable region.

An absolute disaster. Utterly horrific reports coming from all across NW #Syria - every town I’ve heard from has dozens of buildings flattened. People stuck under the rubble.

Any many, many casualties — including children.

@SyriaCivilDefe will be heroes tonight, working amid heavy rain & sleet.
Feb 3, 2023 7 tweets 7 min read
According to recent leaks, #ISIS's evolved administrative structure is ruffling some internal feathers in the #MiddleEast.

The crux of internal tensions lies in the increasingly blurry lines of authority over operations, leadership succession & resource use in #Iraq & #Syria. Leaks claim #ISIS's "Ardh al-Mubarakah" office manages operations in #Syria, #Lebanon & #Turkey, while the Bilad al-Rafidayn office runs #Iraq.

The latter was also running ops in #Iran -- until recently at least, when #Iran was folded into the #Afghanistan "Al-Siddique" office.
Feb 3, 2023 4 tweets 4 min read
أمر ما يجب أن نقدّمه لسوريا -- 13 عاما من الأزمة المستمرة تتجه نحو انهيار حتمي

- مقالتي الجديدة في @ForeignPolicy:

* (عربي)

*… (الإنجليزي) الأزمة #السورية ستدخل عامها الـ 13 في مارس/آذار القادم، ورغم أن مستوى العنف في جميع أنحاء البلاد منخفض الآن نسبيا مقارنة بالسنوات الماضية، فإن الأزمة ما زالت بعيدة جدا عن نهايتها، وفقا للأكاديمي تشارلز ليستر:
Jan 26, 2023 6 tweets 6 min read
Yesterday saw an intriguing incident outside al-Bab in northern #Aleppo:

- A prominent member of a pro-#HTS [semi-breakaway] wing of Ahrar al-Sham, Saddam al-Mousa (Abu Uday) was killed outside his home in what was described as a "drone strike." Abu Uday had become notorious for facilitating #HTS's advance into northern #Aleppo in Oct 2022 -- & in its wake, he secured control of the valuable al-Hamran crossing (to #SDF areas) & agreed to share its revenue streams with #HTS.

He was also a known player in the arms trade.
Nov 30, 2022 6 tweets 8 min read
NEW - #ISIS announce the death of leader Abu al-Hassan al-Qurashi -- "killed in action," but no details as to when or where.

His replacement is named as Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini. Lots of rumor swirling re. #ISIS's leader's death.

- Some (linked to #SDF) say he was killed in a joint US-SDF raid in NE #Syria.

- Some (linked to opposition) say he was killed in #Idlib, either (a) Nov 19 during a reported #HTS SSG raid, or (b) Nov 26 in an unreported op.
Nov 29, 2022 5 tweets 8 min read
As with most things @BBCRosAtkins, this was good.

One thing — as @GaryLineker admits, the @BBC (& the West writ large) failed to hold #Russia to account in ‘18 (amid FAR worse crimes/abuse). Time to acknowledge there’s probably a reason why. Nobody’s willing to go there, though. @BBCRosAtkins @GaryLineker @BBC A tale of double-standards:

2018, batting away criticism of #Russia:

- "Who are we to start getting judgmental on who should have the World Cup?"

2022, on #Qatar:

- "It’s the most controversial World Cup in history.. corruption.. migrant workers.. women's rights.. LGBTQ.."
Nov 11, 2022 10 tweets 11 min read
The @UN's Alena Douhan (from #Belarus) just wrote a 6,500-word report on sanctions & human rights in #Syria.

She visited #Syria for 12 days -- but only spent time in #Assad-held areas.

Her conclusion?

Lift all sanctions. Finance reconstruction. Nothing was the regime's fault. Image @UN That the @UN calls Douhan an "independent human rights expert" is staggering.

She made no effort to visit areas not controlled by #Assad's regime & goes out of her way to thank the regime for how "transparent & constructive" it was during her visit.

Yes, I bet they were. Image
Nov 10, 2022 7 tweets 7 min read
It is clear that 2022 has seen a surge in momentum, particularly amid Western governments, on repatriations from al-Hol & al-Roj in NE #Syria.

BUT, 519 in 2022 represents just 4% of the third country women & children in the camps. And we're starting with the easy caseload first. Increasing momentum on NE #Syria repatriations is welcome news -- but to take full advantage of it, the repatriation process needs to be made much easier.

Most cases, from start to finish, can take 12-18 months, which is far too long -- most of the obstacles are in NE #Syria.
Nov 1, 2022 6 tweets 7 min read
As #Syria fatigue sets in & concerns over refugee flows increase, some states within the #EU have begun pushing hard for a softer stance towards #Assad's regime -- some are even engaging.

The #EU itself may not change its policy, but actions by member states could pull it apart. Concern within & between core #EU member states has risen markedly in recent months -- it's why I wrote this @ForeignPolicy piece.

Arguing that #Ukraine will deter internal #EU division on #Syria is not just wrong -- it's being proven inaccurate almost daily in #Brussels.
Nov 1, 2022 4 tweets 5 min read
In recent days, #Somalia has been all over international headlines -- why?

#AlShabab killed 120+ in a double car bomb attack outside the Education Ministry in #Mogadishu.

That's to be expected, of course. It was a massive attack & the deadliest there for 5yrs. ImageImageImage BUT another #Somalia story of enormous significance has struggled to win the attention of international media:

- #Somalia is on the brink of the worst famine seen in 50+ years.

Aid experts say this imminent famine will be worse than the one in 2011 -- when 260,000 died. Image
Oct 10, 2022 4 tweets 4 min read
Last decade, the #Obama admin chose diplomacy with #Russia, betraying #Syria's opposition & abandoning millions in favor of a hopeless mission.

To see those who defended that policy -- while slamming those of us who critiqued it -- now doing a 180 is galling, to say the least. Whether in 2013 after 1,000 civilians were killed by nerve gas; or 2015 when #Russia intervened; or 2017 when we submitted to #Moscow's "de-escalation" ruse -- the #Obama admin line, across the board, was:

- 'You want WW3? Really?'
- 'Challenging #Russia is just impossible.'