Senior Fellow & Director of @MEI_Syria & @MEI_CTE programs at @MiddleEastInst.
Author, analyst & more. American-British in DC.
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Sep 21 • 5 tweets • 5 min read
#Putin's call for a "partial" mobilization is the clearest sign yet that his #Ukraine invasion has been a pitiful failure.
That flights from Russia to its immediate neighbors are now selling out at 100mph tells you everything you need to know.
We *must* keep the pressure on. #Putin's nuclear threat, meanwhile, should be taken even less seriously than 6 months ago -- anyone who actually says "this isn't a bluff" has already lost his/her own credibility.
Following through on the threat would kill off his few remaining friendships -- chiefly #China.
Sep 5 • 12 tweets • 14 min read
2 children on the boat have died in recent days -- and the health of others are deteriorating.
To ignore such a tragedy, just off #Malta's coast, represents an unspeakable lack of humanity.
@MaltaGov That Syrians are still fleeing for #Europe is no surprise, particularly those in #Lebanon where authorities are preparing to *illegally force* them back to #Syria.
5+ million #Syria refugees remain in neighboring states & polling suggests ~0.5% would consider an eventual return.
Aug 31 • 4 tweets • 4 min read
NEW -- reports of a possible #Israel airstrikes hitting #Iran-linked targets in the western edge of #Aleppo International Airport as well as a section of the runway.
Here's video filmed showing #Aleppo International Airport in the distance -- showing multiple successive explosions.
Reports now coming in of possible airstrikes in #Latakia too.
Aug 30 • 4 tweets • 4 min read
ICYMI -- for the 1st time since 2011, #Idlib's Christian community gathered on Sunday at the Church of St. Anna in al-Yacoubiya, near Jisr al-Shughour, #Idlib to celebrate the Orthodox St. Anna's Day.
#HTS leader Jolani met with the Church's Bishop Luay al-Bisharat in July.
Since #Jolani's visit to al-Yacoubiya in July, rumors have swirled around #HTS's agenda for #Idlib's Christian minority.
There are reports that #HTS has communicated with Syrian Christians in #Germany, inviting residents/property owners to return & re-assume property ownership.
The situation in #Baghdad is deteriorating fast -- mortars, rockets, RPGs & heavy machine guns all reportedly in use, including within/targeted at the Green Zone. Many casualties; grisly images emerging.
#Basra also in a very bad place -- heavy fighting too.
In Nov 2020, I wrote about #AlQaeda's looming "succession crisis" -- as the group's most likely No.2 (Sayf al-Adel) is based in #Iran, a location that for most AQ affiliates, has resulted in deep distrust.
- Humanitarian on 20th
- Chemical weapons on 23rd
- Political situation on 31st @USAmbUN@SecBlinken .@USAmbUN also announces that on May 18, the U.S. will convene & @SecBlinken will chair a Ministerial meeting at the UN, focused on food insecurity & conflict, amid #Russia's war in #Ukraine.
#Russia's invasion of #Ukraine catalyzed a massive U.S. & #NATO pressure campaign -- sanctions, weapons etc.
For years in #Syria, #Russia bombed hospitals, IDP camps & schools; besieged 100,000s; covered for CW use & more.
The response? Nothing. Not even x1 sanction.
I know it's been said before, but I still find it hard to wrap my head around just how cold & risk averse the U.S. & allies were over #Russia's role in Syria.
And the costs are just staggering -- not just to #Syria & its neighborhood, but to the world at large. What an error.
May 2 • 7 tweets • 6 min read
U.S. & NATO assistance to #Ukraine has had an extraordinary effect so far -- but triumphant talk of 'winning' is premature & dangerous.
Yes #Russia is on the backfoot, but it's got room to adapt & drag this out into more favorable dynamics.
Amid optimism over #Ukraine, let's also remember the invasion still happened -- 11 million civilians have been displaced; towns/cities turned to rubble; & 10,000s civilians killed.
#Putin rode a wave of impunity we paved for years prior -- it'll take a long time to redraw norms.
May 2 • 4 tweets • 6 min read
In 2021, #Assad's regime produced & exported ~$30 billion worth of #Captagon -- roughly 35x #Syria's legal exports.
That *enormous* operation cemented #Syria's status as a narco state of international significance.
#Moscow is more likely than ever to veto cross-border aid at the UNSC in July & #Syria's wheat supplies are lower than ever -- a famine in 2022 is now very much on the cards.
Mar 11 • 5 tweets • 6 min read
For what it’s worth, *IF* #Assad’s regime begins sending troops to #Ukraine, they’ll be no more than cannon fodder in a battle & environment that’s completely alien to them - it’ll be like “sending Martians to fight on the Moon,” as I told @WSJ:
When, on the rare occasion, #Assad needed capable urban warfare fighters, he turned to #Hezbollah — NOT his own military.
#Syria’s military was good at brutal, sustained sieges, indiscriminate bombardment, horrific [sectarian] violence, mass torture & organised crime. That’s it.
Mar 4 • 5 tweets • 5 min read
In the last 48hrs, #Syria's banned almost all food exports, amid acute concern about the implications of war in #Ukraine.
#Syria is *deeply* reliant on staple food (esp. wheat) shipments from #Russia via the Black Sea. Those shipments (& #Russia financial aid) have 100% stopped.
Already, #Syria's fiscal crisis, energy shortages, unprecedented drought & the resulting crippled agricultural output had seen some aid figures warn of a famine in 2022.
That offers the U.S. (& NATO) an opportunity to explore avenues for improving ties with #Ankara -- far from straightforward, but it's an opening.
For #Syria policy, this could be vital.
War in #Ukraine will have extremely negative impact on the humanitarian situation in #Syria -- and #Russia is now more likely than ever to veto cross-border aid access in July.
Any alternative plans will be dead in the water, without #Turkey playing a central role. We need that.
Mar 2 • 4 tweets • 4 min read
Bear in mind the true number is likely far higher, not to mention that 1,000s of #Russia troops who have fled &/or been captured.
That's a staggering scale of loss in less than a week. #Ukraine