The Ten Most Important Developments in Syria in 2015

by Aron Lund, editor of Syria in Crisis.

I wrote a post for Syria Comment last year listing the top events of 2014 and what to look for in 2015. So here’s another one—a very long one, in fact. It has been compiled in bits and pieces over a few weeks but was finalized only now, a few days after the fact.

In keeping with the buzzfeedification of international political writing, I have decided to make it a top ten list and to provide very few useful sources, just a lot of speculative opinion. I’ll rank them from bottom to top, starting with number ten and moving on to the biggest deal of them all. Enjoy!


10. The Death of Zahran Alloush.

In October 2013, the esteemed proprietor of Syria Comment, Professor Joshua Landis, compiled a top five list of Syria’s most important insurgent leaders, excluding al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Kurdish YPG. It contained the following five names:

  • Hassane Abboud (Ahrar al-Sham)
  • Zahran Alloush (Islam Army)
  • Ahmed Eissa al-Sheikh (Suqour al-Sham)
  • Abdelqader Saleh (Tawhid Brigade)
  • Bashar al-Zoubi (Yarmouk Brigade)

Of these five, two remain alive but have been demoted to second-tier ranks in their factions. In March 2015, Ahmed Eissa al-Sheikh merged his group into Ahrar al-Sham and took up a less prestigious job in the new outfit. In October, the Free Syrian Army heavyweight Bashar al-Zoubi was reassigned to run the political office of the Yarmouk Army, as it is now called, and replaced as general commander by Abu Kinan al-Sharif.

The other three are dead. Abdelqader Saleh was hit by a missile in Aleppo in November 2013. Soon after, his powerful Tawhid Brigade began to fall apart. Most of its subunits are now dispersed across two rival-but-allied outfits, called the Levant Front and the First Corps, which are both active in Aleppo. Hassane Abboud was killed alongside other Ahrar al-Sham leaders in a September 2014 bombing—or whatever that was. And on Christmas Day 2015, Zahran Alloush suffered the same fate. A missile hit a building in the Eastern Ghouta where he was meeting with other local rebel leaders.

Since Zahran Alloush died just a week ago, we don’t know how much this will matter in the end. But he was indisputably one of the best-known rebel commanders in Syria, the one best positioned to dominate Damascus if Assad lost power, one of the very rare effective (because ruthless) centralizers within the Syrian opposition, a trusted ally of the Saudi government, and the most powerful Islamist leader willing to engage in UN-led peace talks. Those five qualities all seemed to promise him a major role in Syria’s future. But now he’s dead. And since his group always seemed like it had been built around him as a person, many now fear/hope that it will start unraveling like Saleh’s Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo. We’ll see. If the rebels start to lose their footing east of Damascus, it will be an enormous relief for Assad.

9. The Failure of the Southern Storm Offensive.

Map by @desyracuse

Map by @desyracuse

This summer, the loose coalition of rebel units known as the FSA’s Southern Front got ready to capitalize on a year of slow and steady progress, during which Sheikh Miskin and other towns had been captured from Assad. They encircled the provincial capital, Deraa, for a final offensive dubbed Southern Storm. The city actually looked ready to fall. After Idleb, Jisr al-Shughour, Ariha, Palmyra, and Sukhna, the fall of Deraa was intended to be the nail in Assad’s coffin and a show of strength for the Western-vetted FSA factions in the south, drawing support away from their Islamist rivals.

Stories differ on what happened next, but the Southern Storm campaign was a fiasco. Regime frontlines hardly budged, the Allahu Akbars trailed off into a confused mumble, and commanders were called back to Jordan. Half a year later, with Russian air support, Assad has begun an offensive to retake Sheikh Miskin in the hope of finally loosening the rebel stranglehold on Deraa—although at the time of writing, this is still a work in progress.

What happened? I really don’t know. Many things, probably. The operation seems to have been poorly coordinated, with rebels pursuing a plan that their foreign funder-managers in the Military Operations Center in Jordan didn’t agree on. Stories have been told about some nations cutting support, rebels defecting to Assad or heading for Europe, arms having been sold on to jihadis, and groups splitting over obscure internal intrigues. Some of those stories may be false, but the failure was a fact and the rebels have since been restrained from further advances.

Of course, it might seem strange to say that rebels not taking a city was Syria’s ninth most significant event in 2015. It is not even a Dog Bit Man story, it’s a Dog Didn’t Bite Man story. But the Deraa affair seems to have done a great deal of damage to Western and Arab hopes for the FSA’s Southern Front, which had until then been portrayed as a model for the rest of Syria’s insurgency. Unless the southern rebels manage to reorganize, unify, and go back on the offensive, I think the events of summer 2015 might end up being seen as a turning point in the southern war.

8. Operation Decisive Quagmire.

afp-15a98bf10482c310755007248667f3649b607c81In keeping with local tradition, the princes of Saudi Arabia can be wedded to four regional crises at once. In early 2015, they were sulking over Syria, emotionally drained by Egypt, flustered by unfaithful Libya, and at wits’ end over that shrew in Baghdad, when Yemen suddenly walked into their lives—a huge, incoherent, boiling mess of splintering armed factions, collapsing institutions, Africa-level poverty, jihadi terrorism of every imaginable stripe, and aggressive interference by rival foreign governments.

It was love at first sight.

Since then, the March 2015 Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen has of course turned out to be exactly the self-defeating, facepalm-inducing clusterfuck that everyone who is not a member of the Saudi royal family had predicted.

To make a long story short, the Saudis are still in Yemen with no victory on the horizon and no face-saving exit available. This means they have much less time and resources left for Syria than they did a year ago. They have become more exposed to Iranian pestering and are more dependent on their regional and Western allies, several of whom do not share their views on how to deal with Bashar al-Assad. Rather than being able to leverage their intervention in Yemen against Iran and Assad in Syria, the Saudis now seem at risk of having it leveraged against them.

Thanks to the over-confidence and under-competence of the Saudi royal family, Syrian rebels may therefore turn out to be among the biggest losers of the Yemeni war.

7. Europe’s Syria Fatigue vs. Assad’s Viability

2The huge numbers of refugees coming from Syria and other countries to the European Union in 2015 had many causes, but one of the effects was to rearrange Europe’s list of priorities in the Middle East. Goals number one through three are now as follows: stability, stability, and stability. Number four is anti-terrorism, number five is economic growth, and then there are a few others along those lines. Promoting democracy is also on the list, right after ”fix the nose of the Sphinx.”

In 2015, we have also seen a slow but persistent drip of terror scares and occasional massacres, including two big ones in Paris in January and November. This is obviously not the refugees’ fault, but many Europeans link these attacks to Syria anyway—including some of the attackers, like the wanker that began stabbing random people in the London Underground this December.

These things tap into the West’s darkest impulses. Reactions to immigration, painful social change, and terrorist pin-pricks may be irrational—in fact, they mostly are—but they carry real weight and win votes. Policy specialists might recommend some mixture of strategic patience, cautious reform, and nuanced rhetoric, but European rightwing populists eat policy specialists for breakfast.

Islamophobic far-right movements were already growing all over Europe, for reasons largely related to the continent’s own internal diseases, but the refugee crisis and the terror attacks are a godsend for them. Some of these groups are not content with merely hating and fearing the Syrian rebels for their Islamism, but also adopt pro-Assad positions. In addition, European extremists on both the far right and the far left are increasingly friendly with Putin’s Russia; some are even funded by the Kremlin. These parties are no longer bit players. They’re going to be in government soon, or close enough to government to shape policy. Add to that the old-school authoritarian national-conservatism that has begun to resurface in Eastern Europe, including Hungary, Poland, and other places, and the fact that countries like the Czech Republic and Hungary are already the Baath’s best advocates in the EU, and you have the nucleus of a slowly forming pro-Assad constituency.

Of course, many European politicians are also re-evaluating their views on Syria for perfectly non-racist and non-paranoid reasons. The most common one is probably a widespread and profound loss of faith in the Syrian opposition, not merely as an alternative to Assad, but even as a tool for pressuring him and engineering a solution. Others were never interested in a policy to overthrow Assad, although they happen to think he’s a crook.

The point is that all of these things now reinforce each other and for the Syrian regime, it looks like vindication. In 2011, Bashar al-Assad made a bet, wagering that (1) the West would one day recoil from its love affair with Middle Eastern revolution and return to the familiar comfort of secular authoritarianism, and that (2) his own regime would still be standing when that happened.

It is now happening, but whether or not Assad’s regime is still standing, qua regime, is a matter of definition. The Syrian president has so far shown little ability to exploit political openings like these. To an increasing number of European politicians, he does indeed look like the lesser evil, but also like a spectacularly incompetent evil. His regime appears to them to be too broken, too poor, too polarizing, too sectarian, too inflexible, and too unreliable to work with—more like a spent force than a least-bad-option. Assad’s diplomacy may be far more elegant but is ultimately no more constructive than that of Moammar al-Gaddafi, who, as you may recall, kept refusing every kind of compromise and even shied away from purely tactical concessions, until he was finally beaten to death by screaming Islamists in a country so broken it will perhaps never recover.

Then there is the question of Assad’s own longterm viability. Even in pre-2011 Syria, no one could be quite sure whether the Baathist regime would remain in one piece without an Assad at the helm. In a conflict like this, there must be dozens of assassins trying to worm their way into the Presidential Palace at any given moment and for all we know one of them could get lucky in 2016, 2017, or tomorrow. And what about his health? The Syrian president turned 50 this September. That’s no age for an Arab head of state and he looks perfectly fine in interviews. But if Western intelligence services have done their due diligence, they’ll know that his father Hafez suffered a ruinous stroke or heart attack at age 53, which nearly knocked him out of power. Who knows, maybe it runs in the family?

At this point, however, a growing number of European policymakers are so tired of Syria and its problems that they’ll happily roll the dice on Assad being the healthy, happy autocrat that he looks like. They would be quietly relieved to see Syria’s ruler reemerge in force to tamp down the jihadi menace and stem refugee flows with whatever methods, as long as they don’t have to shake his bloody hands in public and on the condition that he delivers a semi-functional rump state for them to work with, at some unspecified point in the future.

Obviously, Assad isn’t going to become best friends with the EU anytime soon, but it might be enough for him if major cracks start to appear in the West’s Syria policy. If so, there is now a window of opportunity opening up that wasn’t there for him a year ago. If the Syrian president manages to break some bad habits, tries his hand at real politics instead of Baathist sloganeering, and produces a stabilization plan slightly more sophisticated than murdering everyone who talks back to him, then 2016 could be the year that he starts breaking out of international isolation. If not, he’s likely to stay in the freeze box for at least another year—and since his regime keeps growing weaker, nastier, and less state-like by the day, it’s uncertain if he’ll get another chance.

This is a potential game changer worth watching, but don’t get too excited. Given the way that the Assad regime has conducted itself in the past half-century, the odds are long for transformative politics and persuasive diplomacy from Syria’s strongman.

6. The Vienna Meeting, the ISSG, and Geneva III.

b03582e6b20396c6ed25a6cb72406b35f8745e5dWhile not the most important, the November 14 creation of the International Support Group for Syria (ISSG, not to be confused with ISIS or ISIL) was certainly the most unambiguously positive piece of news of the year.

A debating club of interested nations and international organs won’t be enough to end the Syrian war, but it means that the terms of the debate have been readjusted for the better. Recognizing the conflict’s international dimension and engaging constructively with the fact that this is now partly a proxy war was long overdue. As currently construed, the ISSG might be too broad and unwieldy to function properly, since the core players (USA, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc) always seem to have to hold preparatory pre-meetings before settling down in the ISSG format. But if that’s what it takes to get the screaming and sulking teenagers that rule Tehran, Ankara, and Riyadh to sit down and talk like adults, then so be it.

That the creation of the ISSG has for the first time made Iran a formal party to the Syria talks is a good thing, whatever Syrian rebels and their Saudi paymasters may think of it. Iran is a key player both on the ground and in the diplomatic struggle over Syria; that’s not something you can change by pretending otherwise, though many have tried. Of course, now we’re all waiting for Iran to come to the same conclusion about the Syrian rebels, instead of childishly insisting that Assad must be allowed to negotiate with an opposition of his own choosing.

After its meetings in Vienna and New York, the ISSG has empowered UN envoy Staffan de Mistura to call for a new round of Syrian-Syrian talks, currently scheduled for January 25 in Geneva. As many have already pointed out, these talks are unlikely to solve Syria’s problems. The ISSG-backed goal of a transition through free and fair elections by 2017 is almost cartoonishly unrealistic.

So, what to do about that? Many pundits have reacted to the Vienna statement and the Geneva peace process only by ridiculing it and then restating their preferences for the outcome. That’s not helping. The talks are indeed almost certain to fail to reach their overly ambitious goals, but then let’s work from that assumption instead of scoffing at it.

The actors involved in Syria’s war should plan for failure even more than they plan for success. They should already be preparing for a post-Geneva situation where they need to salvage, secure, and build on any shred of progress achieved in the talks.

Reaching a comprehensive ceasefire by June seems incredibly difficult, but a dampening of violence just might be possible, with some luck. If serious about it, Syrian negotiators could presumably also reach meaningful agreement on more limited and less controversial issues.

They could also agree to keep talking. Since so many now favor some sort of political resolution, and unsuccessful negotiations may give way to military escalation, it would be useful to avoid a full stop and the taste of failure. A faltering Geneva process could be drawn out into many sessions and postponed, with negotiators on both sides sent back for a couple of months to do their homework, instead of ended. Transforming the Geneva process into a semi-permanent platform for negotiations on a talk-while-you-fight model would transfer some of the combatants’ attention to a political track. That would be a good thing, both in the hope of achieving a breakthrough later on and for day-to-day crisis management.

Most of all, international actors should make sure to safeguard the ISSG framework, or some version of it, against an underwhelming performance in Geneva. Even if the war goes on and intensifies, some form of international contact group will be useful to facilitate communication and solve side-issues, and it remains a necessary ingredient in any future de-escalation deal.

5. The Donald.

The politics of the United States is a key part of the politics of Syria, although the reverse is rarely true.

Right now, it looks very likely that Donald Trump will either win the Republican nomination for president, or run as an independent and split the Republican vote out of pure spite. If so, Hillary Clinton is almost certain to be elected president of the United States, which would give her final say over the superpower’s Syria policy from January 2017 to 2020, or even 2024.

Of course, one never knows: some extraordinary scandal could knock her out of the race, or maybe Trump slinks away or is bought off after losing the primaries. We’ll see. But right now, Clinton seems like the smart person’s bet.

From what we know of her performance as President Obama’s secretary of state during the first three years of the Syrian war, a Clinton presidency would probably mean a more hawkish attitude to Assad. For example, she keeps declaring herself in favor of a no fly zone to ground the Syrian air force. Whether that is feasible is another matter, what with these Russian jets and air defense systems all over the place, and tough talk on the campaign trail will not necessarily translate into White House policy. But a more interventionist American line in Syria could definitely make a difference in the war, for good or bad or both.

The high likelihood of a Clinton presidency also means that we can tentatively exclude the sort of radical break in American Syria policy that might have followed a Republican restoration. Some of the GOP candidates are more aggressively anti-Assad than Clinton and have no interest in preserving any part of Obama’s legacy. Others are the exact opposite: more or less pro-Assad and starkly opposed to the rebels, whether for pandering to the anti-Muslim vote or out of anti-interventionist principle. But because of Donald Trump, it now seems like those points of view are going to get schlonged back into permanent opposition.

4. The Iran Deal.

iran-nuclearThe effects of the Iranian nuclear agreement, which was finalized between April and June 2015, are only very gradually becoming apparent. But unless the deal is somehow scuttled by the combined efforts of hawks in the United States, Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, it could reshape the region.

As a consequence of the agreement and the American-Iranian thaw, the international isolation of Tehran is withering away. After four years of being shut out of Syria diplomacy, but not out of Syria, Iran has been invited to the UN-led negotiation process via the ISSG. The United States is also starting to accept Tehran as a regional power to be engaged coldly but constructively, although this is still unfamiliar terrain for all involved.

Meanwhile, European companies are flocking to Tehran to get a slice of the end-of-sanctions pie. Expecting billion-dollar construction contracts and racing to beat their Russian, Chinese, American, and Arab competition, the EU governments will soon start to pay a lot of attention to what Iranian diplomats have to say. More soft power for the ayatollahs, then.

Though often viewed, somewhat inexplicably, as a third-tier actor in the Iran talks, Russia is also paying the greatest attention to this process. Once the nuclear deal was done, Putin swiftly began to transform a complicated but friendly relationship into an emerging pact, seeing in Iran’s combination of oil, gas, military muscle, and poor ties to the West a perfect regional ally for Russia. Russian state media just announced that Moscow will start shipping its powerful S-300 air defense system to Iran next month.

This is all great news for Bashar al-Assad, of course, though it’s not yet clear whether his regime can stick around long enough to fully capitalize on Iran’s growing influence.

3. The Continuing Structural Decay of the Syrian Government. 

down-with-hafezAssad took some real body blows in spring and summer 2015. After an upward curve in 2014, the Syrian army started to seem exhausted by the end of the year and its offensive in Aleppo petered out after a last hurrah in spring 2015. With rising support for the rebels, the hollowed-out base of Assad’s regime began to show.

Most obviously, Assad lost a lot of territory in the first half of 2015. In March, a coalition of Islamist rebels captured Idleb City in the north and Bosra in the south. In April, Jisr al-Shughour fell, followed by the Nassib border crossing to Jordan. In May, it was time for Ariha in Idleb, with other rebels pushing into the Ghab Plains. Further east, the Islamic State took Sokhna and Palmyra. Southern rebels grabbed a military base known as Brigade 52 in the Houran in June and began preparing their (ultimately ill-fated) assault on Deraa, the provincial capital. That same month, Assad’s forces in Hassakeh were mauled by the Islamic State. They survived only thanks to an uneasy alliance with the Kurds, which increasingly turned into dependence on them. In July, Assad was hard pressed and held a speech declaring that the army would have to focus on keeping the most strategic areas of Syria, though it would not stop striving for total victory.

The rebel and Islamic State offensives have mostly been blunted since then, thanks to raised levels of Russian and Iranian support, and they did not go far enough to deal critical damage to the regime. Yet, at the time of writing, Assad remains unable to recapture any of the cities he lost in the first half of 2015. The northern Hama front, in particular, continues to cause headaches for his government.

Even though you can’t see it on a map, Assad has also lost strength in other ways in 2015. His primary source of power—apart from the military—was always the fact that he controlled the state, and along with it a number of institutions on which every Syrian family relies, including courts, police, public services, state-run businesses and banks, and a system of food and fuel subsidies. While it does not mean that the regime’s subjects love their president, it has allowed Assad to co-opt, control, and mobilize millions of Syrians in ways that the insurgents cannot. Owning the government also allows Assad to hold out the promise of continued central control, institutional rollback in the provinces, and coordinated reconstruction—i.e., some sort of plan for a post-war Syria.

By contrast, his opponents may be skilled at breaking down existing institutions, but they have so far proven unable to build new ones that stretch further than a few towns. This weakness is a primary source of Assad’s strength.

The Islamic State and the Kurdish PKK are partial exceptions to the rule, clearly capable of organizing rudimentary governance after destroying, expelling, or subjugating regime-connected local elites. But, for various reasons, they are not credible alternatives to the existing central state. As for the situation in the remaining Sunni rebel regions, it is very bleak. After nearly five years, there is a handful of multi-province militias, three or so regional networks of Sharia courts (the Sharia Commission of Ahrar al-Sham & Co. and the Nusra Front’s Dar al-Qada in the north, and the more broadly based Dar al-Adl in the south), a lot of little local councils linked to the exile opposition, and a web of foreign-funded aid services operating out of Turkey and Jordan, but not much more.

When Idleb fell to the insurgency earlier this year, it was only the second provincial capital to slide out of Assad’s hands, after Raqqa. It was destined to become an example of what rebel rule would mean. And what happened? The city started out at a disadvantage because of the war, Assad’s retaliatory bombings, and so on. A decent number of public employees seems to have stayed and continued in their jobs, but salaries and electricity provision dried up. That meant that things like water pumps and schools went out of commission. Rebel factions did what they could to organize civilian life, such as forming a joint council, which has administered the city through some combination of inherited municipal regulations and Sharia law. Despite the prominent role of al-Qaeda in the Jaish al-Fath coalition now running Idleb, foreign governments have chipped in by donating food and medical supplies to avoid a humanitarian disaster. Still, even under a comparatively well-organized, broadly based, and locally rooted coalition like Jaish al-Fath, the basics of a new political order never seem to fall in place. After eight months of insecurity, crime, and armed men swarming the city, the new rulers have yet to organize a credible police force. Whatever the opposition may claim, such failures are not merely the result of Assad’s barrel bombing.

The rebels’ manifest inability to govern, along with merciless airstrikes on nonregime territory, is what makes Assad able to compel most of the population to live under his rule; and the fear of irreversible state collapse is what has made foreign states hold back support from the rebels at critical junctures. However, this key advantage of the Assad regime is also slowly fading away, along with the state itself. The resulting problems are almost too many to list.

For one thing, the Syrian army’s manpower deficit is turning into a major issue. Assad has mobilized his security apparatus to hunt down draft dodgers through house calls and flying checkpoints, in order to replenish thinning ranks. The main effect seems to have been to send a growing stream of seventeen and eighteen year old men across the border, often with their families in tow. They may or may not prefer the government over the rebels, it doesn’t matter. In a Syria at peace they would have grumblingly gone for their one-and-a-half years of army training. But as things stand, they know full well that army service has no time limit: discharge is equal to death. As it turns out, most Syrians have no intention of giving their lives in service of Bashar al-Assad and draft dodging is now pervasive. Tensions have become so great that in the Druze-majority Sweida region in the south, the government apparently decided in 2015 to abstain from normal recruitment to the Syrian Arab Army out of fear of provoking a local rebellion. Druze men can instead report for home defense units, on the understanding that they won’t be shipped away to die in distant Hassakeh or Latakia. A similar arrangement reportedly applies in Aleppo and they seem to be creeping into other regions as well.

On the frontlines, Shia foreign fighters are taking a greater role. They appear to be behind much of the successful offensive south of Aleppo. Iran is rallying Iraqi and Lebanese fighters with both religious and financial inducements, but its client groups—Hezbollah, the Badr Organization, Asaeb al-Haqq etc—do not seem able to mobilize enough fighters. According to some reports, Iranian authorities have resorted to press-ganging young Hazara Shia refugees into going to Syria, under threat of deporting their families back to Afghanistan.

Russia has acted even more decisively, by sending its own air force and huge amounts of military materiel to shore Assad up.

Drawing on all of these resources, the Syrian president and his allies have managed to supply the army with the manpower it needed to regain some sort of strategic composure after the difficult first half of 2015. The army now seems to stand its ground again. But though the regime’s counterinsurgency apparatus is now back in working order, this is still the military-logistical equivalent of fixing your car engine with chewing gum and a prayer.

Though it remains the country’s single most powerful armed force, the Syrian Arab Army appears to have boiled down to a skeletal organization. Many elite and specialist units remain in service, but officers have far fewer regular soldiers under their command and are haphazardly recruiting local hangers-on to pad out the ranks in their sector. A huge number of more or less local militias have been set up by pro-Assad civil society figures, including businessmen, neighborhood strongmen, and tribal leaders, and Iran has helped Assad to organize tens of thousands of fighters under the National Defense Forces umbrella. Much of the broader ground force has thus been replaced by local irregulars, although army and intelligence officers still appear to oversee the action and report back to Damascus.

An example of what the Syrian Arab Army now looks like is Brigade General Soheil al-Hassan’s Tiger Force. So called after its commander, whose nickname is ”The Tiger,” it is one of the government’s most acclaimed elite units, which shuttles back and forth across northern Syria to put out fires and break up stalemates. While the Tiger Force is presented in regime media as an exemplary representative of the regular Syrian Arab Army, Hassan is in fact an air force officer who reportedly served as part of Air Force Intelligence at the Hama Airport when the conflict began. Having moved into a frontline role from 2011 onwards, he does not seem to control a huge force, instead relying on local troops and a smaller entourage of personal loyalists from varied backgrounds. Even now, when he is stationed on the front against the Islamic State east of Aleppo, he is surrounded by some of the local militias he worked with in Hama earlier in the war.

The civilian side of the government is also suffering. The state economy has declined at an accelerated pace since summer 2014. Then, the Syrian pound began to lose value quicker, fuel supplies dwindled, and the government was forced to begin a painful retreat from its costly system of subsidies for basic goods. Assad also lost access to the Jordanian border in 2015, complicating trade with Iran and the Gulf Arab markets and hurting farmers and other exporters. Iran’s decision to turn the credit tap back on in spring 2015 surely helped to slow the decay. But with Assad having run down his currency reserves and facing an array of other problems, the value of the pound continues to melt away, the lack of fuel causes cascading problems throughout the economy, the institutional rot worsens, and we’re seeing an accelerating middle class exodus from Damascus and the big cities.

When I recently polled some specialists on the Syrian economy, answers were uniformly pessimistic. Jihad Yazigi, who publishes the well-regarded economic newsletter The Syria Report, concluded that 2016 will see Syrians ”poorer, living a more miserable life, and emigrating in higher numbers.” José Ciro Martínez, an expert on food in conflicts, noted that bread prices have tripled in government-controlled areas (and also in the parts of Syria under Islamic State control), while they are stabilizing in rebel-held regions, where foreign governments are trucking in flour and food.

For the Baathist government, which still today controls a sizable majority of the Syrian people, this has started to eat away at one of Assad’s most important competitive advantages: his ability to provide basic goods and salaries in areas under his control, which draws civilians away from the bombed out and broken rebel badlands and places them under the control of his state, army, and security apparatus. In the past year, humanitarian workers and diplomats monitoring these issues have started to speak about internally displaced people being turned away from government areas that no longer feel that they can afford to care for them, or view them as potential fifth-columnists for the Sunni insurgency. The situation is so bad that in northern Syria, thousands have headed for Islamic State-run Raqqa—a city ruled by fundamentalist psychopaths and targeted by a dozen different air forces, but still safer and more livable than wherever they came from.

The decay of the central government, the army, state institutions, and the Syrian economy more generally means that Assad is growing less credible as the steward of all or part of post-war Syria, even for those inclined to imagine him as such. For years, the Syrian government has spent considerable resources running basic governmental functions even in areas outside of its control—for example by paying salaries to government workers, teachers, and hospital staff in some opposition-held regions. As a consequence, many insurgent areas are paradoxically enough dependent on regular payments and institutional services from the government they’re fighting.

In some cases, these are quid pro quo deals, where the government tries to leverage its ability to shut down services, in order to get the rebels to let traffic through a checkpoint or stay out of certain towns. In other cases, there are overriding shared interests, such as when the government and Islamists work out arrangements to keep Damascus and Aleppo supplied with potable water. There is also the spectacle of unhappy government oil workers sent out to run power plants under Islamic State supervision, because both sides want to keep the lights on and hope to make money off of the other.

But in many other cases, the central government simply seems to be paying for services in areas it does not control. This is not a humanitarian measure and neither is it mere bureaucratic inertia. (Sometimes, the government shuts down services and stops food deliveries as a means of collective punishment.) Rather, it appears to result from a strategic choice to maintain a skeletal grid of institutions in as many regions as possible. That’s a core interest for the Syrian state as such, but also for Assad personally, who hopes to win the war by safeguarding the government’s institutional base and making it contingent on the continued existence of his regime.

Given current trends, it seems unlikely that the central government will be able to keep these payments up forever. In so far as the current rulers of the state are forced to chose, they will no doubt prioritize loyalist areas. (Or corruption and clientelism will make that choice for them.) Also, many areas have already lost any presence of the state and functioning public institutions, whether due to the war, rebel depravations, or regime terror bombing. Recreating them will be even more costly than just keeping them in operation. If Assad’s government does not have the resources or the institutional capacity to rebuild reconquered areas, then it will rule no more effectively than the rebels. If it turns out to be too dependent on radical sectarians to allow Sunni refugees back, and cannot in fact operate as an institutional state and a national government, then President Assad is just a warlord with a fancy title.

For the regime, this is a do or die issue. Unless it manages to bring these structural problems under control in 2016, Syria may be heading into unknown territory.

2. The American-Kurdish Alliance.

indexSince late 2014 and early 2015, the United States Air Force has transformed itself into something that more closely resembles the Western Kurdistan Air Force. Under U.S. air cover, Kurdish forces are constructing their own autonomous region (called Rojava) and in autumn this year, the U.S. started delivering ammunition and small arms directly to Arab units working under the Kurdish umbrella, currently called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). We’re still in the early stages of what may or may not turn out to be a longterm relationship, although certainly not a monogamous one.

Militarily, it is a match made in heaven and the results are impressive. Despite their limited numbers, the Kurds have created a disciplined force that uses air support effectively. They’re chewing up jihadis and spitting them out from Kobane to Hassakeh. At the moment, they’re threatening to march against Shedadi near the Iraqi border and have just seized the October Dam on the Euphrates, giving them land access to Manbij and the Aleppo hinterland.

Such victories do not look like much on the map, but they are doing systematic and significant damage to the jihadis in sensitive areas. Oil fields, roads, border crossings, and bridges: these are things the Islamic State cannot live without. Now, the American-Kurdish coalition is buzzing around northern Syria like a giant vacuum cleaner, gobbling up all those goodies and leaving nothing for anyone else. If 2016 turns out to be the year when the Islamic State begins to crack and contract, the Syrian Kurds will have played a huge role in getting us there.

Politically speaking, however, the American-Kurdish alliance is not such a perfect marriage. It’s more like an unfortunate Tinder date: initial ambitions align, but you don’t have a lot of interests in common and your friends roll their eyes.

First of all, the Kurds are an ethnic minority with a very particular set of problems and ambitions in Syria, which have little to do with the wider war within the Sunni Arab majority. Their current crop of leaders are ideologically doctrinaire PKK loyalists. They have atrociously poor relations to the rest of the U.S.-backed opposition and disturbingly (as seen from the White House) close contacts with Moscow. If it wishes to act on the central stage of Syrian politics, the United States ultimately needs to win strong allies within the religiously flavored Sunni Arab majority, but it has instead come to rely on a foreign-linked, Russian-friendly, authoritarian, and secular Kurdish group with a (partly undeserved) reputation for separatism. Needless to say, this rubs every dominant ideological camp within the popular majority the wrong way: Islamists, Baathists, Syrian nationalists.

Secondly, the PKK is listed as a foreign terrorist organization in the United States. That means it is illegal for American citizens to provide it with any form of ”material support or resources,” possibly including enormous truckloads of ammunition and billions of dollars worth of close air support. Of course, the sanctioning of the PKK is more due to its violent conflict with Turkey than because of any Kurdish attacks against Americans. Therefore, one would logically expect there to be at least a debate in the United States about whether this key anti-jihadi ally should perhaps be removed from the black list, since this would seem to be an urgent national security interest. But there is nothing of the kind. Instead, the executive branch just goes about its business and the PKK gets its guns as intended. It is a rare case of a political system being so dysfunctional that it becomes super-functional, but it might not last forever.

Third and last, but not least—you may have heard of NATO. The United States is in a military alliance with Turkey, which is a key backer of the Syrian Sunni Arab opposition but also the PKK’s arch-enemy. Both Ankara and the Kurds rank each other far higher than Assad or the Islamic State on their respective lists of evils for urgent destruction. It’s getting worse, too. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is currently sending jets and tanks to bomb Kurdish cities, and he is backing attempts to destroy the HDP, which serves as PKK’s Sinn Féin and is a necessary component of any peaceful solution to Turkey’s conflict. If Turkey-PKK relations were antagonistic before, they are positively murderous right now.

These contradictions threaten to rip apart the United States’ Syrian alliance network, undermining its policy to pressure both Assad and the Islamic State. Resolving them is probably impossible; ignoring or transcending them won’t be much easier. At the moment, the United States is drifting towards the PKK almost by default. This is both because the Kurds have offered something that actually works on the ground and because Erdogan has been such a singularly unhelpful ally in Syria. Turkish obstructionism may have started to fade away now, with Ankara belatedly realizing its need for Western support and the costs of playing spoiler. That could change things. But unless Turkey’s behavior changes radically and other current trends continue, the unlikely alliance between the Pentagon and the PKK looks like it might just beat the odds and survive for the long term.

1. The Russian Intervention.

putsyr4Here we are, at number one, and it’s an easy choice. The single most important event of the Syrian war in 2015 was of course Russia’s September 30 military intervention. Unfortunately, it’s much harder to pin down exactly why this is so important: because it strengthened Assad so much or because it didn’t strengthen him enough?

Most of the discussion in Western Europe and the United States has been over whether Russia intervened against the Islamic State, as it claims, or against other rebels backed by the United States, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. That question is easy to answer: Russia did not intervene against anyone in particular, it intervened for Assad. Who gets hurt depends on who stands in his way. So far, attacks overwhelmingly focus on the other rebels, not the Islamic State—although the Russian government and its media toadies continue to claim otherwise with a sanctimonious pigheadedness unseen since Baghdad Bob.

If we instead judge the Russian intervention against its undeclared but actual goal, which is to aid Assad, a nuanced picture emerges. The airstrikes themselves are intense and seem effective, but they will ultimately matter little unless a capable ground force can exploit the openings created. Assad’s army leaves much to be desired, as already noted, and his government will struggle to resume firm control over the areas and populations it might capture.

So far, there have been limited gains on the ground, mostly in low-value areas south of Aleppo and some hard-won mountain terrain in northern Latakia. The Syrian army is also seeking to wrest back control of Sheikh Miskin in the south, to make Deraa easier to hold. Less visibly but perhaps more importantly, a series of local ceasefire-and-evacuation deals have helped neutralize rebel strongholds in the Homs and Damascus regions. Since the costs to Russia seem to be fairly limited, they can probably keep this up for a long time, meaning that Assad is in no hurry and can focus on preserving cohesion and manpower.

But on the other hand, three months have already passed and Assad has not recaptured a single one of the cities he lost in spring and summer 2015. Not Jisr al-Shughour, not Bosra, not Idleb, not Palmyra. And on the North Hama front, which has been a main focus for the Russian Air Force, Assad has actually been pushed backwards. Soon after the Russians intervened, he lost Morek, a small town that has been fiercely contested for both sides; that was no sign of strength. If the rebels were to move just a few villages further south of Morek, they’d be within comfortable range of Hama City and could start shelling the crucially important Hama Military Airport. (Perhaps that is a reason for why Assad and the Russians are now hastily restoring the discontinued Shaayrat Airport southeast of Homs?)

In other words, while the intervention has helped Assad turn the tide, he’s nowhere near as effective at capturing territory as his enemies were half a year ago. By now, the initial shock and awe has started to wear off. The Russian state media continues to claim that they’re winning, winning, winning, but if people were willing to listen to that on September 30, they don’t any longer. After three months of nonstop lying and braggadocio, the progress reports from Russia’s ministries of defense and foreign affairs seem no more credible than the shrill propaganda we’ve grown accustomed to from Syria’s rebels and regime.

That said, I think it is quite possible that the Russian bombings will have made a deep cut in the rebellion’s fortunes by spring 2016. The longterm and cumulative effect of all this pressure should not be ignored. How long can the Idleb insurgents fight a three-front war against forces coming from Aleppo in the east, Latakia in the west, and Hama in the south? Both the Syrian and the Russian air forces are now hitting munitions storages, supply routes, and transports all over Idleb and Aleppo. The longer-term effects of these bombings may remain invisible to us still. They are also bombing civilian trade and points of access for food and medical aid in areas that had previously been off limits to the Syrian air force. This is either a calculated gamble or part of a deliberate strategy to create a humanitarian disaster, since the Russians are well aware that hundreds of thousands of people depend on deliveries channeled through these areas. Whatever the case, it stirs up the situation all over northern Syria. Rebel forces could theoretically begin to unravel structurally in the same way that the Islamic State is now doing on some fronts, after a year of mostly Iraqi, Kurdish, and American pressure.

Indeed, we are seeing signs that all is not well in the Syrian rebel movement. The Jaish al-Fath coalition, a powerful Idlebi alliance built on the Nusra-Ahrar axis, has just issued a desperate-sounding call for outside support and foreign fighters. The fact that the alliance now openly invites foreign jihadis to come join them breaches a longstanding redline for the non-Qaida segments of the Islamist opposition. One of Jaish al-Fath’s founding factions, the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Feilaq al-Sham militia, was so troubled by this (and perhaps by how their funders would react) that they pulled out of the alliance days after the statement. That Jaish al-Fath’s dominant factions would throw caution to the wind in this way, to the extent that the alliance is starting to wither, is a sign of how much pressure they are under since September 30.

Another possible metric is the death of senior commanders. There is no shortage of new recruits for the rebellion, so one shouldn’t overstate the overall significance, but if leaders get killed it’s at the very least a sign that something is wrong. Since September 30, there has been a lot of reports about dead and injured senior figures in the insurgency. The most well known victim is of course Zahran Alloush in Damascus, though we do not know if the Russians were involved in that attack. Further north, recent deaths include Abu Abdessalam al-Shami, an Ahrar al-Sham member who served as Jaish al-Fath’s governor of Idleb City, Ismail Nassif, who was the military chief of the Noureddine Zengi Brigades, and his counterpart in the Thuwwar al-Sham Front, Yasser Abu Said. All three were killed on the south Aleppo front. Jaish al-Fath’s chief judge, the Saudi celebrity jihadi Abdullah al-Moheisini, was wounded just before Christmas (but survived), while Sheikh Osama al-Yatim, who ran the Dar al-Adl court system in the Houran, was killed in mid-December. The list could be made a lot longer.

It’s also worth noting that the political effect outside Syria has been far bigger than the military gains inside Syria. September 30 shook up conventional wisdom about the conflict and increased Putin’s influence across the board, for having yet again out-escalated the West and proven his commitment to Assad. It created some hard-to-win debates for John Kerry, added to an already growing European pessimism about the wisdom of backing Syrian rebels, and made it less likely that a no fly zone would be imposed in Syria by Obama or his successor. By focusing the minds of people in Moscow, Washington, and elsewhere, the Russian intervention has also helped bring about the Vienna meetings, the creation of the ISSG, and consequently also the upcoming Geneva III talks in January. The November 14 Vienna Communiqué (which Assad doesn’t like) is now overtaking the Geneva Communiqué of June 2012 (which Assad really hated). However you rate these things, they’re not nothing.

Most analysis of the Russian involvement has been so politicized as to be almost useless. Putin’s and Assad’s supporters have been quick to pronounce the operation a resounding success, while rebel backers dismiss it as a murderous fiasco. The safe bet is, as always, to look for the truth somewhere in between those extremes. My best guess is that Putin is probably worried over the Syrian Arab Army’s underwhelming achievements and increasingly concerned over what he has gotten himself into. Nevertheless, Assad is definitely in a stronger position than he was half a year ago and can still hope for a bigger dividend in 2016. One also has to consider the alternatives: the Syrian army would no doubt have been much worse off now if the intervention had not happened, and that would have undercut Russia’s influence as well.

Finally, one must note the risks involved in raising the stakes. If the Geneva III talks falter and Assad fails to achieve a decisive breakthrough in 2016, then what? Russia can hardly pull back, now that Assad has grown dependent on its support, not without losing face and seeing its investments frittered away. And what then, Mr. Putin: will you just keep going with no end in sight, or will you escalate even further? In other words, Russia is now at risk of getting stuck in an intractable conflict without an exit strategy and without clear political gain. It would be like Saudi Arabia in Yemen, but on a much bigger scale. If Putin ends up sending ground troops into battle, the risks and costs involved would rise considerably—but even that might not be enough to bring about a Kremlin-friendly conclusion to the Syrian mess.

Some of the less responsible actors on the pro-rebel side (you know who you are) might find this scenario to be in their interest. By exposing himself to injury in Syria while simultaneously continuing to provoke Western and Sunni Arab nations in Ukraine, Iran, and elsewhere, Putin has effectively offered them the choice of a full-blown proxy war. Once he seems to have tied his personal prestige firmly enough to Assad’s fate, they just need to abandon any lingering hopes they might have for stability in Syria and start kicking at the pillars that still keep the state standing, thereby turning Syria into Putin’s own Afghanistan. It would be very bad news for the Russians, but it would be a catastrophe for Syrians.

Barring a military breakthrough, much could depend on the outcome of the otherwise uninspiring Geneva III talks in January. The behavior of Russia and the Assad government will be watched closely by Western states. If Putin acts constructively and demonstrates real leverage over his ally, or meaningful agreements between Syrians seem to be within reach, then so far so good. But if it turns out that Putin refuses to fulfill his side of the deal, which is to deliver Assad’s approval of a transition plan, or if Assad simply ignores Moscow’s advice, then what good is the Russian presence in Syria to Arabs, Americans, and Europeans? We would be back in a purely military contest. The ramped-up Russian investment in Assad’s regime would then look less like a unilateral readjustment of Syria’s balance of power and more like a target of opportunity.

Comments (245)

Pages: « 1 2 3 4 [5] Show All

201. Majedkhaldoun said:

Starving Civilians in Syria is terrorism, throwing bombs and rockets on civilians is terrorism , dictatorship is terrorism , this Alawi Assad regime is most terrorist regime ever
Geneva 3 is good for Syrians as we know the goal is to get rid of this terrorist Alawi regime and have transitional government leads to election monitored by united nation where all Syrians inside and outside Syria will vote , that is why Russia and Assad are hindering this political process
Russian economy is deteriorating with the drop in oil prices, waiting will not help Putin , by the end of summer , Russian economy will start to collapse

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 14

January 21st, 2016, 6:03 am


202. SimoHurtta said:

Majedkhaldoun is the following also true?

Starving civilians in Yemen is terrorism, throwing bombs and rockets on civilians is terrorism, dictatorship is terrorism, this Saudi royal regime is most terrorist regime ever.

If not why not?

By the way who give the unlimited amounts of ammunition to the Syria’s international rebels. Dictatorships, which as you yourself described are terrorists. Saudi Arabia building/exporting democracy to Syria – does anybody seriously believe in such impossibility?

Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

January 21st, 2016, 7:12 am


203. Observer said:

Tara and Sami the crux of the problem is that being an Alawi by definition means NOT BEING A SUNNI or MUSLIM. So the offshoot of Shia Islam has defined itself as what it is not. I understand that stupid religious orthodoxy practiced by force leads to either agnosticism or atheism or a formulation of a counter ideology. Today the highest percentage of atheists are in Iran and KSA. Therefore it is logical that the reference to Ibn T is at the core of the blocked thinking process: an Alawi is NOT a SUNNI; NOT a Muslim; NOT a Shia: Not whatever due to their old age oppression. Like the Jewish people who felt threatened to lose their identity when Republican Secular Citizenship ideas swept all of Europe; their solution was to call for a Jewish homeland with the correct justification that they were persecuted but also implicitly if persecution were to disappear in a secular society also leads to the greater threat of assimilation. Hence there is no possibility for feeling Syrian first and Alawi second. For the very identity implies that no civil society is capable of giving me my full identity and if it does then I will assimilate and lose it.

This is neither an attack nor a defense of anything a mere observation of a circular argument that is very comforting and self fulfilling.

Now I am awaiting the fierce response of our historical scholar Ibn T in reverse 🙂

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

January 21st, 2016, 7:57 am


204. ALAN said:

Now Russia could help to return a nice chunk of Turkey to the Kurds for being the largest freedom fighters on the earth.
R.T.Erdogan: F**k U

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

January 21st, 2016, 3:28 pm


205. ALAN said:

Turkish security op, curfew in Kurdish areas puts 200,000 people at risk – Amnesty Intl.
The Turkish government’s onslaught on Kurdish towns and neighborhoods, which includes round-the-clock curfews and cuts to services, is putting the lives of up to 200,000 people at risk and amounts to collective punishment

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

January 22nd, 2016, 12:25 am


206. Ghufran said:

The ruling mafia in Saudi arabia is trying to undermine UN efforts on Syria:
In his confidential Jan. 18 briefing to the U.N. Security Council, which was obtained exclusively by Foreign Policy, Staffan de Mistura said Riyadh is complicating his efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict by trying to tightly control which opposition groups will be allowed to participate in the negotiations.His comments came shortly after a slate of Saudi-backed Syrian opposition groups, organized under the banner of the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), rebuffed his personal appeals to allow other groups to take part in the talks. De Mistura complained to the council that the Saudi-backed opposition coalition and its “sponsors insist on the primacy and exclusivity of their role as ‘THE’ opposition delegation.” While de Mistura did not name Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is the main international sponsor of the HNC. The group, however, is backed by France, Turkey, and Qatar.

Thumb up 19 Thumb down 14

January 22nd, 2016, 12:28 pm


209. Ghufran said:

The argument that Saudi Arabian ruling mafia and its foot soldiers in Syria are making about isis is flawed, those corrupt politicians want you to believe that defeating the Syrian army and toppling the government in Syria will end the war and defeat Isis.
Unfortunately there are western politicians who are copying the Saudis out of ignorance or out of necessity.
The truth is that you can not give something you do not have, the Saudis and their agents are in bed with the Islamists and their new discovery that isis is bad is triggered by the need to please the west and the fear that Isis may try to jeopardize Al Saud’s monopoly on Saudi Arabia, those people never believed in freedom or practiced democracy, what they want is revenge, their goals are installing a puppet government in Syria, protecting the Saudi and goatish GCC sheikdoms and stopping Iran’s marsh in the region. An opposition team that only has Saudi-approved politicians should stay in the warm Riyadh and not worry about traveling to cold Geneva. Kurds and people who oppose the islamists must be present and be given adequate representation.
ما كان ناقصنا الا زبالة السعوديه

Thumb up 19 Thumb down 13

January 22nd, 2016, 6:54 pm


210. Hopeful said:

#201 Ghufran

The struggle in Syria is between three ideologies/thoughts: the military dictatorship (the regime), the Islamists (of all colors), and the liberal democrats. Each has a different vision for future Syria. The right thing to do is to have three groups represented by three teams in the meeting, and let them go at it to see if a compromise if possible. Put it all out on the table and let the people choose the side they would like to be on during the negotiations: the regime, sharia, or democracy.

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15

January 23rd, 2016, 12:32 am


211. Observer said:

Some traitor takes pride that others are using the war to gain combat experience killing the fellow citizens: this the depth of depravity of this regime that you get this kind to treason. In the meantime the Russians got War Olympics and Soccer: read carefully

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 12

January 23rd, 2016, 7:48 am


212. omen said:

rainman argues since there are no virgins without sin outside of Syria, helpless children of Madaya deserve starvation. applying punishment for collective guilt is a Zionist virtue. You’ve become the very monster you rail against.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 14

January 23rd, 2016, 3:24 pm


213. omen said:

203. Alan –

This is what Alan is so proud about.

Russians using children for target practice is not something to crow about.

Obliterating children is not “combat” but rather genocide.

Mowing down children is not the trademark of a professional soldier. This is the mark of a psychopath. Appearently Allan too needs psychotherapy.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 14

January 23rd, 2016, 3:42 pm


214. omen said:

205. Hopeful –

Russia and Iran are not in Syria because of ideology. This is not a war of ideas. They are waging genocide in order to line their pockets. Even Landis acknowledged who ever wins Syria inherits the world.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

January 23rd, 2016, 5:53 pm


215. Badr said:

Forget the planned Geneva 3 and even 4, 5 . . . talks. The key factor will be the extent to which Turkey and the Gulf countries support rebels.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

January 24th, 2016, 12:42 pm


216. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Genocide is the strategics behind US-IRAN agreement to manage the New Middle East Order.

75 % of sunnis massacred full of desire for revenge syrians could not be easily ruled by Iran. So let´s ethnic cleanse and change the sectarian composition of Syria.

Iran is the new patrol power in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Get Ready.

Israel will be respected by Iran, this is one of the questions treated on 14th July Secret Agreement.

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

January 25th, 2016, 8:36 am


217. mjabali said:

Tara and Sami:

You need to open some books and read about the history of Syria and see what have been done so many had became “minorities” in their homeland.

Your denial of our history is not going to change it. Claim what you want to, we narrate our history how it had happened. Also, you can read your own historians and see what had happened to us to become “minorities.”

As for psychology: please explain to us what is the shrink’s diagnosis for you guys who always call others traitors with ease, remembering that in your culture to call someone a “traitor,” means: they should die.

Also, ask your shrink what he thinks of you guys who see the four Alawites who sign to stay with France, and never mentioned the Hundreds who signed the other petition to not stay with France, and form what became Syria?

Are you guys ignorant of the other document? Or, you like to never see it and always invoke the one that was signed by four or five Alawites? How do you want the Alawites to live with you guys?

The history of Syria is being brought to the battlefield. To solve the Syrian problem, one have to go through understanding Syrian history and applying the findings on the ground.

Thumb up 14 Thumb down 12

January 25th, 2016, 7:56 pm


218. mjabali said:


Ibn Taymiyah is the man responsible for almost all of you Sunnis’ ideas about the Alawites. So, you trying to discredit him is not going to change that.

Your objection to Ibn Taymiyah is not valid also because, Ibn Taymiyah is the most important person for al-Nusra, Islamic State, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam…etc: upon his teachings and rulings; they base their relationship almost with everyone. According to Ibn Taymiyah they view the world.

One of the biggest achievements of Ibn Taymiyah is classifying the Alawites, the Druze, and few others as TRAITORS… You personally mr. Observer had said the same thing about the Alawites…

Of course, Ibn Taymiyah was the one who ruled that all the Alawites, with no exception, should die with no mercy. This is the official legal position of almost all the Sunnis in this world regarding the Alawites, Druze, Isma’ilis…etc…

Thumb up 14 Thumb down 13

January 25th, 2016, 8:17 pm


219. mjabali said:


Insulting me is not a good idea.

Whatever my position is: that is for sure not your business.

For me you are a non-Syrian calling for more blood shed in Syria.

As you have exhibited here, day-in-and-a-day-out, that you really do not know that much about Syria, and most likely are getting paid by a party in this fight to post here and on Twitter as evidenced by many things.

You are a party in this fight, so if I did not agree with you, do not cry that much, go to the Shrink and tell him/her that Mjabali is not agreeing with you, see what they say. They for sure are going to tell you to calm down and not to explode like what you did.

You could tell that Syria has enough smart people on all side to start a dialogue if they are not being blocked by outsiders like you.

By the way, you quoting what Sandro Low on Vodka said about me is a tragedy, like the tone in your scribble here about Syria….

We need rational people to help us solve issues in Syria and not people who should see a Shrink today before tomorrow….

Thumb up 14 Thumb down 13

January 25th, 2016, 8:37 pm


220. Ghufran said:

Reversing the military wins by the government forces and their allies is more difficult now even if a new president is elected in the US because the military and political establishment here will resist any major change in the policies implrmeted by Obama with support from top generals who prefer the new situation over an uncertain aggressive stance against Iran, Russia and assad as long as the US traditional allies are not threatened. Only a change in Iran and Russia position can affect the temporary borders being forcefully drawn today. Those borders rely on an understanding between Russia and the U.S. where areas under Nusra and isis are left for the two super powers to handle while Russia is given a free hand to secure the region between Dara’a in the south and Latakia in the north. Turkey and ksa have few choices here and the two islamist regimes in these two countries have effectively watched and did nothing while rebels were losing positions almost on a weekly basis. The issue of regime change is repackaged to allow modifications instead of a radical restructure as demanded by rebels and their supporters. Syrians at the end were the victims of a dirty and unnecessary war that will leave syria under the mercy of foreign aid for years to come and a hostile climate that threw Palestinians under the bus.
Congratulations, enjoy the fake glory of a regime that failed on most fronts and an uprising that sold its soul to corrupt GCC regimes and an evil ottoman government. Alawites lost tens of thousands of young men and sunnis lost millions of citizens to refugee camps, neighboring countries and Europe. If you think that donors can bring those refugees back and rebuild destroyed cities and villages think again, syrians will be left to lick their wounds while wondering what happened.
يا امة ضحكت من جهلها الامم

Thumb up 12 Thumb down 11

January 26th, 2016, 1:40 am


221. SANDRO LOEWE said:

There is a lot of trash talk. Nothing to add a new perspective.

The only thing clear is that war is going on in the speed and momentum needed to let the ethnic cleanse of Syria be properly executed.

US, Rusia and Iran all agree that Syria must be emptied from 75 % of sunnis and given to Iran to patrol it and to use it as the gas higway to the West.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

January 26th, 2016, 9:18 am


222. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Stupid posters who believe themselves great analyst are all around but their views are totally out of place. There is one single thing that must be known and clear:

* The plan to expell most sunnis and christians has been accurately prepared and executed by Assad and Iran from day 1.

Did we forget how Hezbollah was feeding Syria rural areas with smuggled weapons during first months of the revolution? How they turned a peacefull people into armed milicias by crushing their demands and selling them weapons paid by Saudi Arabia and Qatar?

Did we ignore that ISIS has been created by Russia, US, Iran and Assad to empty Syria and burn the syrian plains of the north?

Cant we see that US/IRAN/RUSSIA offers will be unacceptable so the war and the ethnic cleanse go on and on until no syrians live in Syria anyomore?

The same politics used by Israel since 1948 has been being used by Assad and Iran to expell syrian citizens.

Rami Makhlouf corporation will be the biggest building company in the Middle East once they expropiate all lands and start Syria reconstruction.

Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15

January 26th, 2016, 9:29 am


223. SimoHurtta said:

216. SANDRO LOEWE said:

There is a lot of trash talk. Nothing to add a new perspective.

US, Rusia and Iran all agree that Syria must be emptied from 75 % of sunnis and given to Iran to patrol it and to use it as the gas higway to the West.

Hmmmm our great analyst Sandro der Löwe there are some bad problems in your analysis. The “Shia” Iranian gas highway to Europe in Syria has still to go trough SUNNI Turkey. So what does it help to remove 75 percent of Syria’s Sunnis? Sunnis would still after that be the biggest religious group in Syria. Iran has a own land border with Turkey, so Sandro it doesn’t need build pipes through Iraq and Syria and so pay them large transport fees and give them political power. Iran already has ready export gas lines to Turkey (and so to Europe). The Gulf countries need access through Syria for their gas export lines. And Israel, if it doesn't build a pipe line in the sea.

By the way Sandro who will in you "perspective theory" take those 13 million Sunnis (those 75% percent of Syrian Sunnis) who are deported? Your domestic Führer A. Merkel, your spiritual leader King Salman or your future chief ruler D. Trump? Sandro Europe is full and Saudi royals obviously do not like Sunni refugees. Soon EU's outer borders will be full of heavily armed soldiers and no Völkerwanderung will be allowed.

Thumb up 12 Thumb down 7

January 26th, 2016, 12:31 pm


224. ghufran said:

Turkey let Turkmen families in but kept 300 Syrian families in the cold and open border area according to SOHR:
علم المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان من مصادر موثوقة، أن عشرات العائلات التركمانية دخلت خلال الـ 48 ساعة الفائتة، إلى الجانب التركي، عقب السماح لها، من قبل السلطات التركية، بالدخول إلى أراضيها، عبر معبر باب السلامة الحدودي، الذي قالت المصادر أنه مغلق من قبل السلطات التركية، وأكدت الصادر كذلك، أن إدخال العائلات التركمانية تزامن، مع انتظار نحو 300 عائلة عربية، منذ الـ 17 من شهر كانون الثاني / يناير الجاري، السماح لها بالدخول إلى الجانب التركي، بعد تمكنها من الهرب من مناطق تنظيم “الدولة الإسلامية”، خلال قصف للطائرات الحربية على منطقة تواجدهم التي يسيطر عليها التنظيم، قرب المناطق التي تسيطر عليها الفصائل المقاتلة والإسلامية بريف حلب الشمالي، حيث سمح التنظيم لهذه العائلات من الدخول إلى مناطق سيطرة الفصائل، وتفترش هذه العائلات العراء، في ظروف قاسية يعيشونها، وسط أحوال جوية سيئة، بالإضافة إلى أن المناطق المحيطة بمكان تواجد هذه العائلات، تشهد اشتباكات وقصف متبادل بين الفصائل المقاتلة والإسلامية، وتنظيم “الدولة الإسلامية”، والتي تستمر منذ أيام، بالتزامن مع قصف تركي على مناطق سيطرة التنظيم ومواقعه

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 9

January 26th, 2016, 4:03 pm


225. Ghufran said:

This is what the official spokesperson
for opposition negotiation team said about the senior Syrian officials who were killed in 2012 when a bomb went
off during their “secret meeting”:
قال نعسان آغا، متحدثاً عن «خلية الأزمة»، تلك التي قضى فيها أربعة من أخطر أركان النظام في ما سمي «تفجير الأمن القومي»، وهم العماد حسن تركماني، وزير الدفاع داوود راجحة، نائبه آصف شوكت، رئيس مكتب الأمن القومي هشام بختيار، قال هم «ليسوا مجرمين، بل ناس فاضلون، ولكن تورطوا في الأزمة. أعرف حكمتهم، ولكن وجدوا في ظرف خاطئ، عصابي».
“These were not criminals, they were good people who got trapped into the Syrian crisis, I know about their wisdom but they found themselves in the midst of a terrible situation during difficult times”.

Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

January 26th, 2016, 4:55 pm


226. Observer said:

From the mouth of our illustrious historian in residence and Ibn T scholar comes the logical conclusion: please separate yourselves and create your own state!!!!

Please do so as soon as possible peacefully and in an orderly manner for trying to reverse history has proven to be impossible.

The level of discourse has fallen lower than I could have ever imagined. The circular self fulfilling arguments that I read are a testimony to this intellectual depravity.


Thumb up 3 Thumb down 13

January 27th, 2016, 7:40 am


227. ghufran said:

The Saudi based opposition has legitimate demands but none of them can be met without reciprocity especially the withdrawal of heavy weapons from rebels controlled areas and an official divorce from Nusra.
The truth is that the presence of Rebels and the use of weapons from heavily populated areas have been a critical factor in the creation of refugees and the high civilian death toll. Another trap is ignoring the Kurds to please Turkey without any plan to accommodate more than 20 million Kurds in 3 countries. Washington urged the opposition to go to Geneva without preconditions because they know the regime will come up with its own conditions and nothing will get done, keep in mind that the expectations are already low and many people in both camps have resigned to the conclusion that the side that wins militarily will dictate its conditions, many Arabs are still living in the Middle Ages politically and socially.

Thumb up 13 Thumb down 7

January 27th, 2016, 10:49 pm


228. SANDRO LOEWE said:

From the fall of Mosul (delivered by chiite forces) to the liberation of islamists prisoners in Bagdad (by offering no resistance) and Damascus (freed by Assad) all facts have been designed to let ISIS grow and créate the perfect conditions for all superpowers to come and destroy the sunni resistance. And of course to let all the revolutionaries movements be devoured by ISIS monster.

CIA never commits mistakes and ISIS creation and future destruction is the master piece of CIA to the glory of the Ayatollahs and the new US/IRAN ORDER.

Iran is developing the New Persian Empire. After some decades the Persians will fall down again and great historical changes will take place for Human Kind. This was the case in the past and it will be in the future. Let´s pray for historical events to accelerate.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

January 28th, 2016, 5:40 am


229. Observer said:

No comment but therein lies the biggest problem the elephant in the room no matter how you spin it: ليس هناك نظام في العالم تاجر بنظرية المؤامرة كما تاجر بها النظام السوري، فلو أحصينا عدد المرات التي وردت فيها كلمة “مؤامرة” في الخطابات الإعلامية والسياسية والحزبية البعثية السورية، لربما تجاوز عددها مئات الألوف، إن لم نقل أكثر. لقد كان النظام يعتبر أبسط التصرفات التي يقوم بها السوريون العاديون والتي لا تروق له، كان يعتبرها مؤامرات ضد “نظام الصمود والتصدي والممانعة والمقاومة”. وأتذكر أن طفلاً صغيراً في منطقتنا لا يتجاوز عمره خمسة سنوات كان يركب دراجة أطفال في أحد الطرق ذات يوم، لكنه فقد السيطرة على الدراجة فاصطدمت بلوحة على جانب الشارع كانت عليها صورة لحافظ الأسد، فتمزق جزء بسيط من الصورة. لكن المشكلة لم تنته هنا، بل كانت بداية مأساة حقيقة لعائلة الطفل. فقد قامت المخابرات باستدعاء والد الطفل، وبدأت تحقق معه لأيام وليال. وبعد أن حققت معه المخابرات في المحافظة تم تحويله إلى دمشق كي يستمر التحقيق في الإدارات المخابراتية العليا لشهور. وكان المحقق دائماً يسأل والد الطفل عما إذا كان الأمر مؤامرة حاكها الوالد، واستخدم فيها الطفل والدراجة لإلحاق الأذى بصورة “القائد الخالد” حافظ الأسد، بينما كان الوالد يصر دائماً أنها ليست مؤامرة أبداً، وأن الطفل لا يعرف حتى صاحب الصورة التي ارتطمت الدراجة بها. مع ذلك، ظل ضباط المخابرات الذي حققوا مع الوالد لشهور طويلة، ظلوا يتهمونه بتدبير مؤامرة مع الطفل لتشويه صورة “السيد الرئيس”.

هذا على الصعيد الداخلي حيث يعتبر نظام المخابرات الفاشي أبسط التصرفات مؤامرات على نظام حكمه. وحدث ولا حرج على الصعيد الخارجي، فهو لا يمل من اتهام القاصي والداني بالتآمر على نظامه. لا بل إنه اعتبر الثورة السورية العظيمة كلها مؤامرة كونية شاركت فيها حتى مخلوقات فضائية، على اعتبار أنها “كونية” وليست أرضية فقط.

هل عرفتم لماذا هذا الهوس الشديد لدى نظام الأسد بالمؤامرات؟ السبب بسيط جداً، لأنه أكثر من تآمر على سوريا والعرب، وهو يحاول دائماً أن يخفي مؤامراته الحقيقية بتوجيه الأنظار إلى المؤامرات السريالية التي يخترعها إعلامه وأقبية مخابراته كستار من الدخان كي يحجب مؤامراته هو. وقد لاحظنا كيف كان يستخدم تهمة العمالة لإسرائيل “عمال على بطال” ضد أي سوري معارض كي يخفي عمالة النظام لإسرائيل التي فضحها رأس النظام نفسه عندما قال للمثل السوري جمال سليمان في بداية الثورة إن إسرائيل طمأنته بأنها لن تسمح أبداً بسقوط النظام، وأنها أعطته الضوء الأخضر كي يفعل ما يريد بكل من يقف في وجهه. ودرات الأيام وبدأنا نكتشف أن صاحب أطول سجل في فبركة المؤامرات الخزعبلاتية هو أكبر متآمر على سوريا. لقد صدع رؤوسنا وهو يشتكي من المؤامرة الكونية على نظامه، فإذ به أكبر المشاركين مع أمريكا وروسيا وإسرائيل وإيران في التآمر على سوريا الشعب والوطن، بدليل أن الجميع بمن فيهم إسرائيل وأمريكا لا تريدان سقوطه، وتعمل على الحفاظ عليه بأسنانها، على عكس ما كان يتشدق به منذ بداية الثورة.

لقد اكتشفنا متأخرين أن المؤامرات التي تتعرض لها سوريا ينفذها نظام الأسد، وليس أطراف خارجية كما يدعي النظام. هل كانت سوريا لتتحول إلى مسرح لمن هب ودب من الشرق والغرب لو كانت فيها قيادة وطنية تعمل لصالح الوطن والشعب، ولا تستعين بالقاصي والداني على الشعب والوطن من أجل مصالحها السلطوية القذرة؟ هل كانت سوريا لتصل إلى هنا لولا أن قائدها المزعوم هو من ينفذ المؤامرات الخارجية القذرة عليها بيديه؟ هل كانت روسيا لتستبيح سوريا وتحرق شعبها لولا أن نظاماً متآمراً استعان بها على بني جلدته؟ هل نظامنا أجنبي، أم إنه مفترض سوري؟ نعيب زماننا والعيب فينا؟ نتهم الخارج بالتآمر علينا، بينما حاكمنا هو من ينفذ المؤامرات علينا. لا يمكن لأي مؤامرة خارجية أن تمر إذا لم يكن لديها طابور خامس في الداخل. وهل هناك أفضل من طابور النظام الذي كان له الفضل الأكبر في إنجاح المؤامرات على سوريا وشعبها؟

Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

January 28th, 2016, 6:52 am


230. Akbar Palace said:

209. omen said:

205. Hopeful –

Russia and Iran are not in Syria because of ideology. This is not a war of ideas. They are waging genocide in order to line their pockets. Even Landis acknowledged who ever wins Syria inherits the world.


I’m not sure what Professor Josh has said on this issue, but near as I can tell, Iran IS in Syria because of ideology, certainly NOT for money. Iran was under DECADES of heavy sanctions due to their nuclear ambitions and so money and economic prosperity was not their main concern. Similarly, their support of (shia) terrorism still has them under certain sanctions. They don’t have to be in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, but they choose to to spread shia Islam. To me, that’s pretty ideological and certainly cost prohibitive.

207. omen said:

rainman argues since there are no virgins without sin outside of Syria, helpless children of Madaya deserve starvation. applying punishment for collective guilt is a Zionist virtue. You’ve become the very monster you rail against.


As much as we love to hate Israel, if the rest of the arab world treated their arab citizens as well as Israel, the Middle East would be a great place to live. Not to say that if Israel gets attacked, she won’t respond forcefully and legally, just like any other nation.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

January 28th, 2016, 11:57 am


231. Ghufran said:

There are people who are making fun of de Mistura because he has a lisp with the letter S

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

January 28th, 2016, 6:57 pm


232. ghufran said:

Only 3 out of 73 Turkmen villages are still under rebels control. Kinsabba will fall any day now, after that Latakia may become the second province in Syria that has no Islamist and terrorist rebels.
أكد نائب رئيس الجبهة التركمانية في سوريا طارق جوزيلي على أن 73 قرية تركمانية في جبل التركمان شمال سوريا و التابعة لمحافظة اللاذقية سقط معظمها في يد النظام السوري و القوات الروسية، مشيرا الى أن ثلاث قرى فقط مازالت تحت سيطرة القوى التركمانية

Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

January 28th, 2016, 9:59 pm


233. Hopeful said:

The Syrian opposition should not concern itself with who else is coming or not. They should go and make three demands:

1. Immediate stop to the regime and Russia’s bombing and starvation campaigns
2. Concrete steps towards free and fair elections supervised and secured by the UN and international community
3. A mechanism – accepted by both sides – to ensure that people with blood on their hands – from both sides – are not allowed to run for elections. Otherwise, the conflict will never stop.

These demands are objective, unbiased, and are driven by the interest of the country – not certain people or certain sects. They world will rally to support these demands – and everyone objecting to them will be exposed for his hypocricy,

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

January 29th, 2016, 2:47 am


234. Mina said:

What an interesting way to negociate!!

” Riad Hijab, coordinator of the High Negotiations Committee, said that aid access was a precondition of the group attending.

“Tomorrow we won’t be in Geneva. We could go there, but we will not enter the negotiating room if our demands aren’t met,” he told Al-Arabiya television.”

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

January 29th, 2016, 4:04 am


235. Badr said:

Although unlikely to happen, but if the talks could somehow – the sooner the better – lead to a broad ceasefire with the lifting of the blockades, it should be a welcome step forward.

Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

January 29th, 2016, 4:27 am


236. Ghufran said:

According to thawrajiyyeh the whole regime and the whole army and security forces are guilty and have their hands stained with blood, that is why nobody from the SNC said anything when syrian soldiers were attacked and killed at random and when rockets and car bombs were used in civilian areas under regime control. People with guns have no incentives to lay down their arms, the current situation gives them money and social status, many people got rich because of the war and they do not mind seeing it lasting few more years.
The key is agreeing to limit the possession of heavy weapons to the syrian army, the army can absorb many rebels and take more volunteers but there should be no heavy weapons in any syrian town that are not in the hands of the national army. Local militias not related to Nusra and Alqaeda were allowed ,in more than one spot , to keep light weapons and help protect citizens from criminals and their salaries should be paid by the government not Ksa or Qatar.
When the blood shed stops or reaches a low acceptable level elections will become possible but must be monitored by the UN to ensure fairness, Assad may want to run but I think he will probably change his mind or be “asked” to step aside in 2017 or sooner, if he insists on running and he lets the UN monitor elections the opposition should not use that as an excuse to depart the political process as long as the elections are not controlled by the regime but by the UN.
The opposition says most Syrians are agsinst Assad and this claim can be verified by clean and fair elections, that will also put pressure on the opposition to come up with leaders who do not alienate minorities and moderate sunnis, syria has thousands of potential leaders.
Finally, islamists are not qualified or trusted to write or shape the constitution, let legal experts and civil society figures do that, Syria is too important to let Baathists/ Assadists and islamists divide it into small enclaves to serve their own interests instead of national interests.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

January 29th, 2016, 11:26 am


237. Uzair8 said:

Prof. Landis was on BBC Radio 5 in the early hours talking about the upcoming talks:

Listen from 03:20:30

~7-8 minutes long

Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

January 29th, 2016, 11:33 am


238. Uzair8 said:

In recent days there’s been some twitter talk of impending BIG rebel offensives on Aleppo and Hama. Some (like @vivarevolt) claiming to be holding back from revealing anything which suggests some substance to these claims.

Actually, going by twitter it seems the Hama offensive has begun.

@VivaRevolt Jan 24 *
Morek also,but i and others are keeping details secret

@Syria_Rebel_Obs Jan 24 **
#SRO – Rebellion decision to evacuate N-#Latakia isn’t a victory for regime. Large forces to push for #Aleppo and more important : #Hama.

Regarding the significance of Latakia:

@JohnArterbury Jan 23 ***
@Charles_Lister even then Latakia is a peripheral front. Aleppo/Idlib will be more critical, while meanwhile Daraa stalls


Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

January 29th, 2016, 1:14 pm


239. Uzair8 said:

We all know Iran is recruiting Afghans, Iraqis etc and sending them to Syria.

If If it looks like the regime is doing well and Russian intervention is successful/effective (minimising regime losses) then more Afghans & co will be tempted to join up for a percieved easy payday (plus other bonuses eg Iranian citizenship).

On the other hand if things aren’t going well for the regime then some will be disuaded from joining up as the benefits may not be worth the risk.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

January 29th, 2016, 1:27 pm


240. Thomas Hood said:

233. UZAIR8 said:

.. . it seems the Hama offensive has begun.

Al-Masdar News confirms it.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

January 29th, 2016, 3:39 pm


241. Ghufran said:

The so called Hama offensive will be short lived, the goal is to delay or prevent an assault on islamists positions in Hama, Homs and Idleb. Too little too late, nobody wants islamists to win except the evil alliance of Tukey, GCC and Israel. The big dudes in this fight have made up their mind, terrorists with black flags belong to syriatan not central Syria.

Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

January 29th, 2016, 4:00 pm


242. Majedkhaldoun said:

The American election is a golden opportunity for us , we must take advantage of it, Obama needs Clinton to win , so he can maintain his legacy , Iran deal , and Obama care, if a republican president gets elected those will go , of the Americaneconomy turns bad, the chances for Clinton to win will diminish, that can happen if KSA suddenly and quickly raise the price of oil , after May this can cause a collapse in American economy , we all remember how King Feisal quadrupled the price of oil in 1972 , KSA should not hesitate to do it unless Obama help arm the rebels, all what Obama needs to do is provide the rebels with antiaircraft missiles , Putin is under the mercy of Obama, if the rebels get these missiles Air Force superiority will be eliminated , , also Putin economy is bad that is why raising the price of oil should start in May or June,

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

January 29th, 2016, 9:27 pm


243. ghufran said:

I rarely target any particular post with comments but the post above
# 237 is particularly hilarious despite the fact that the author was probably serious. I regret the fact that educated Syrians can be this naïve politically, sorry folks I had to say something beside laughing.
Syrians will finally have the opportunity to talk after trying to kill each other since 2011, the first round may not bring any breakthroughs but if the international community comes up with a UNSC that spells out the principles of a solution to the Syrian tragedy which includes a cease fire, humanitarian assistance, release of prisoners and elections we can say that the beginning of an end is upon us.
US elections will not reverse Obama’s domestic and international achievements unless the democrats suffer a crushing defeat in 2016 (November)and the GOS has a 2/3 majority which is unheard of in US political history. The GOP can at best modify things a little to please their supporters including our delusional Syrian American thawrajiyyeh friends. Saudi Arabia’s ruling mafia will lose their grip on power in 2 weeks if they defy a sitting US president, hang on to this Bedouin dream and say Hi to your SAMs !!

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

January 29th, 2016, 10:01 pm


245. Mina said:

Luckily it seems to be yet another mistake! May Sayyida Fayruz live another 30 years and more!

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

January 31st, 2016, 4:03 am


Pages: « 1 2 3 4 [5] Show All

Post a comment