SyriaUntold brings you the first edition of our Weekly Media Digest. We want to share with you the features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we read and thought would interest you.
A Race Against Time: Demanding the US and SDF Find the Disappeared by ISIS (The Syria Campaign)
The latest report from The Syria Campaign is focused on the thousands of civilians who have been kidnapped and forcibly disappeared by the Islamic State during its reign over Raqqa, and the responsibility lying on the SDF and the coalition forces to meet the demands of families to investigate the fates of their loved ones.
“Other family members of the disappeared also expressed concerns about how the graves are being handled. A family member present in Raqqa for the exhumations was incredulous when asked by The Syria Campaign if the First Responders Team was preserving DNA samples from the mass graves. “In some cases they’re not even writing down what the person was wearing,” he said.”
Eight Years of Unrest in Syria (The Nib)
Omar Khouri’s and Yazan Al-Saadi’s comic published on The Nib on the 8th anniversary of the Syrian uprising mocks the false assumptions about Bashar Al-Assad’s victories over his own population.
Localism, War, and the Fragmentation of Sunni Islam in Syria (Carnegie Middle East Center)
Scholar Kheder Khaddour looks back at how the ongoing war reshaped the Sunni population’s relations to their sect, and the results that change will have on the regime’s attempt to weaponize religion in the future.
“Reflecting such changes, when smaller urban areas fell out of regime control in 2012 and 2013, local religious figures had to establish relations with the new authorities in their areas, namely Islamist-inspired political and military factions. Yet these armed groups were only able to operate through existing social structures—namely mosques, the families that sustained them, and their imams.”
ISIS Has Not Been Defeated. It’s Alive and Well in Southern Syria (Foreign Policy)
Sarah Hunaidi’s brilliant contribution to Foreign Policy refutes Trump’s claims of a complete eradication of the militant group, tracing the caliphate's efforts to regroup in Suwayda, in southern Syria.
“In February, President Donald Trump celebrated the United States’ alleged victory claiming that the group had been “100 percent” defeated. The United States and Britain have meanwhile moved on to debate stripping the citizenship of their nationals who joined the Islamic State.”
The Best of Bad Options for Syria’s Idlib (Crisis Group)
Sam Heller’s extensive report on Idlib's armed factions and the narrowing window of possibility for finding an alternative solution to a full-blown military operation in Idlib.
“The regime was willing to quarantine its staunchest opposition in Idlib, perhaps calculating that, when it came time for an offensive, the opposition’s international backers would be unenthusiastic about defending an area increasingly controlled by jihadists.”
Between Bread Queues and Shifting Red Lines, War-weary Damascus Residents Navigate a City in Flux (Syria Direct)
This report explores how years of rampant corruption, service shortages and social frustration have changed the dynamics between Damascenes and the Syrian regime in the capital.
“For ordinary Damascus residents, though, navigating this new security landscape—and its often invisible set of privileges according to one’s class, sect and wasta (connections)—can be tricky. In Damascus, red lines are not always easily discerned.”
On the Tyrant’s Ghost in My Head: a Syrian Writer in Exile Reflects on Totalitarianism (Raseef22)
Ammar Al Maamoun reflects on the remnants of living under tyranny and the how that shapes the human mind beyond geographical borders.
“The tyrant taught me to blame him for everything, to flog myself, to write long, nihilistic speeches about his deep effect. He removed my humanity from me, as if I was a product, controlled and pre-packaged. He forbade me to recognise my effect not only on the world – if it exists – but on myself too.”