Weekly Media Digest (August 11)

SyriaUntold brings you a new edition of our digest. We want to share with you the features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we read and thought would interest you.

11 August 2019

Heba Akkad 'We Are Not Numbers'

An independent media platform advancing critical perspectives on Syria and Syrians.

ISIS, Assad, and Turkey Are Waging a Shadow War on U.S. Allies in Syria (The Daily Beast)

In North-East Syria, both Turkey and the Syrian regime are trying to destabilize the rule of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkey has threatened a full invasion of the border area, and SDF officials accuse agents of the Syrian regime of organizing car bombs in Raqqa. Deir Ezzor is rich with oil and remains volatile, with many foreign players trying to co-opt its tribes and buy their loyalty.

"While the U.S. military presence has prevented a full scale invasion of Northeast Syria up to this point, SDF commanders told The Daily Beast that both Turkish and Syrian regime forces have turned to sneakier tactics as they allegedly burn crops, collaborate with jihadist groups, coordinate bombings and even try to bribe some American-backed fighters to change sides in an effort to destabilize the region and make it more vulnerable to their influence."

The New War on Terror — Arab Style (OZY)

The USA strategic interest in the Middle East remains. However, it is less willing to commit soldiers and engage in combat on the ground. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt stepped in to fill the gap. This article argues that while presenting themselves as the guarantors of Western interest, they are merely employing the rhetoric of the war on terror to stifle domestic dissent.

“Now, a new clique of Arab dictators are launching their own war on terror, using America’s terminology to target their domestic and regional rivals while portraying themselves as indispensable to Western efforts at countering terrorism. This approach marks a sharp break from the past and is finding traction at a time when many Western nations — and in particular the U.S. — increasingly lack the appetite for overseas wars and instead seek local allies to fight their battles.”

Syria war: Who is behind the anti-regime attacks in Daraa? (Middle East Eye)

Haid Haid writes about the increasing number of anti-regime attacks in Daraa. The regime cracked down arresting hundreds and enforcing obligatory military conscription since it regained control over the area in 2018. In response, guerrilla attacks targeted regime checkpoints and officials, leaving scores dead.

“The scale and frequency of the anti-regime guerrilla attacks leaves little doubt that some sort of local resistance is actively operating in Daraa. Thus, it remains a reasonable possibility that these attacks, or at least some of them, were carried out by different individuals or groups without any coordination.”

Tulsi Gabbard’s Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria – A Self-Contradictory Error Filled Mess (Bellingcat)

The 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard published a report on her campaign website exonerating the Syrian government from responsibility for two chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhun in 2017 and in Douma in 2018. Eliot Higgins points out the fallacies in Gabbard’s report.

"In addition, there are are multiple witnesses interviewed by the OPCW and journalists who confirm where the airstrikes occurred and open source information documenting the impact sites of the airstrikes. If this video was not filmed on April 4th it would require that not only one, but two fake videos were pre-recorded, multiple witnesses lied to the OPCW and journalists in a co-ordinated fashion about the airstrikes, and a co-ordinated social media campaign was arranged to spread fake information from multiple organisations and individuals immediately after the airstrikes took place. There has also been no evidence presented by anyone, not Postol, Gabbard, Syria, Russia, the OPCW, or independent investigators, that indicate the airstrikes and damage caused by the airstrikes occurred at an earlier date."

“More Tribal, More Sectarian, More Crony Capitalist Than Ever” (Jacobin)

Joe Hayns’s interviews scholar Joseph Daher. Daher analyses the role socioeconomic factors played in the Syrian uprising and discusses the future of reconstruction and refugees return.

“First, they present economic opportunities, since much land is becoming available. Thirty to 50 percent of housing in Syria is informal. People left without proof that they were owners of particular areas or properties — how to prove it? And even if you can prove it, you have to fear security measures, you may have to pay a certain amount of money, and so on. Second, they also have political motivations; they aim to exclude socially dangerous classes and socially rebellious groups.”

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