MESOP MIDEAST WATCH – PKK-Affiliated Groups Recruited 15 Children Lately in Rojava: Monitor

2-12-20221 ERBIL — At least 15 children from across Syrian Kurdistan have recently been recruited for armed conflicts by the groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a monitoring group said.

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Syriens Autonomiegebiet  – Kurden fühlen sich im Stich gelassen – Von Kristin Helberg · 30.11.2021 DEUTSCHLANDFUNK KULTUR

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Iran is not Leaving Syria any time soon

MESOP MIDEAST WATCH ANALYSIS BY Jonathan Spyer – Middle East Analysis and Reportage

November 20, 2021 JERUSALEM POST

The departure of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander from Syria this month has led to some speculation in regional media that the Syrian regime is seeking to recalibrate its relations with Teheran.

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MESOP MIDEAST Report: Israel +US are splitting up attacks in Syria against Iranian-linked groups

(November 24, 2021 / Jewish News Syndicate ) Israel and the United States are likely dividing up responsibility for attacking targets related to the Iranian-led Shi’ite radical axis in Syria, a new report from an Israeli research center said on Wednesday.

The report, by the Alma Center, stated: “In every sector, the purpose of the attacks is different.”

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Would Deir Ezzor be next on Syrian regime’s list of failed settlements?

28/11/2021Enab Baladi – Khaled al-Jeratli – Since early November, the Syrian regime forces have started promoting security settlement operations in Deir Ezzor governorate, eastern Syria, through the al-Ba’ath Party divisions and branches there.

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Islamic State down but not out in Syria and Iraq: Pentagon report

Islamic State ‘entrenched as low-level insurgency’ AL MONITOR  28-11-2021

The most recent report from the Pentagon’s Inspector General on Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led diplomatic and military operation against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, indicates that IS has weakened but remains a priority for US national security interests in the region.

These quarterly reports provide the most comprehensive reporting and assessment of the US-led mission against IS and therefore deserve attention. Among the latest findings:

  • The report makes clear that the United States and its coalition partners remain essential to the continued success of the mission.
  • The Iraq-Syria border remains an area of concern for IS activity.
  • Economic hardship, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating drought, especially in Syria, will continue to shape the environment.
  • The Iraqi elections and the prospect for continued political stability and progress there is good news for Iraq and the anti-IS coalition effort.
  • Iran-backed proxy forces and militias in both countries remain a threat to coalition forces and operations.
  • Both the Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will continue to depend on US training and support in “conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), intelligence integration and airstrikes.”

There are also country-specific highlights:

In Iraq:

  • The US mission in Iraq will transition to “training, advising and intelligence gathering” on Dec. 31.
  • There are no expected changes in the numbers of US troops in Iraq, currently at approximately 2,500.
  • While IS has carried out a decreasing number of attacks, in some cases it has shown unusual complexity and a “higher level of operational maturity.”

In Syria:

  • The United States maintains approximately 900 troops, and the US mission to work “with, by and through” the SDF to defeat IS has not changed.
  • The pace and number of counter-IS operations carried out by the US-allied SDF has decreased, and the SDF alone “lacked the ability to conduct persistent surveillance or maintain situational awareness.”
  • IS appeared to be “consolidating in the desert and poised for increased activity in what the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) termed “the next stage of its insurgency.”
  • IS continued its focus activity in the al-Hol displaced persons camp for recruitment and indoctrination.

Al-Monitor provides unmatched reporting and analysis on the security situation in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere in the region, including:

  • An Iran-linked militia has called for volunteers to fight US troops in Iraq after Dec. 31, reports Shelly Kittleson.
  • Iraqi populist leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who seeks to form a majority government in Iraq, has called for the “liquidation” of pro-Iran militias, Ali Mamouri reports.
  • How the Turkish lira crisis is affecting the residents of Idlib, which started using the lira last year, reports Khaled al-Khateb.
  • How a devastating drought is affecting the lives of Syrians, reports Khateb and Amberin Zaman.
  • Reports of a planned attack on a prison in Syria that houses thousands of Iraqi IS operatives, reports Kittleson.
  • The backstory on why the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander in Syria was removed, perhaps at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s request, Ali Hashem reports.
  • Islamic State attacks in Iraq’s Diyala province seek to spark sectarian bloodletting, Kittleson reports.

Giving credit where due

Operation Inherent Resolve has been a massive success story since it was launched by the Obama administration in 2014, and it deserves repeating — as it has occurred amid steady criticism from both the right and left and in the region — that the United States was stepping back from its commitments in the Middle East.

It may be easy to forget that IS in 2014 had overrun large parts of Iraq and Syria, instituting a brutal reign of terror. IS took Raqqa, the seventh-largest city in Syria, and Mosul, the third-largest city in Iraq, and murdered, raped, tortured and beheaded those who crossed them.

The Obama administration went all in on its commitment to defeat IS and never wavered. As we wrote here in February, the execution of the US-led policy has been mostly textbook: The mission sustained bipartisan congressional support across three (both Republican and Democrat) administrations and near-flawless civilian and military coordination both within the US government and across the coalition as well as with local partners of varying capabilities.

By March 2019, the US-led coalition had “territorially defeated” IS, and more than two years later, IS still holds no ground in either country. The intense coordination between the United States and Iraqi Security Forces over these past seven years has also been instrumental in deepening the US-Iraq strategic partnership and the steady progress that has occurred in Iraq, including in the October elections that, according to the United Nations and other observers, may have set a new standard for transparency in the region.

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by Calvin Wilder and Kenneth R. Rosen PolicyWatch 3547 November 24, 2021

If the Biden administration moves forward with canceling the company’s license, it will need to prepare for increased military and economic pressure in the northeast amid further encroachment by

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QSD-Kommandant: Erdogan will sein Scheitern vertuschen

Aufgrund seiner bisher gescheiterten Invasion in Südkurdistan will das türkische Regime die Autonomieregion Nordostsyrien angreifen. Der QSD-Kommandant Baz Cindirês erklärt, dass die Region gemeinsam mit der Bevölkerung verteidigt wird.

  • AIN ISSA Sonntag, 21 Nov 2021, Seitdem der türkische Präsident Tayyip Erdogan erneut mit einer Invasion in Nordostsyrien droht, kommt es zu verstärkten Militärbewegungen der türkischen Armee und ihrer islamistischen Proxys vor Til Temir, Ain Issa und Minbic. Baz Cindirês ist einer der Kommandanten der Demokratischen Kräfte Syriens (QSD) an der Front zum besetzten Girê Spî (Tall Abyad) und berichtet von Militärkolonnen, die sich am Rand der Besatzungszone bewegen. „Zudem hat der türkische Staat Versammlungen mit dschihadistischen Gruppen in den besetzten Gebieten abgehalten. Der Grund für die neuen Drohungen sind offensichtlich. Der türkische Staat greift seit einer Weile ununterbrochen die Medya-Verteidigungsgebiete [in Südkurdistan/Nordirak] an. Der Krieg zwischen der Guerilla und der türkischen Armee dauert weiter an. Der türkische Staat hat dabei große Verluste erlitten und kommt nicht weiter. Er ist außerdem in Idlib in Bedrängnis. Aus diesem Grund sucht er nach einem Ausweg aus der verfahrenen Situation. Das will er über einen Angriff auf Nord- und Ostsyrien erreichen.“

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Nov 19, 2021 Turkey Reverses Syria Incursion Plans after Russian and US Pressure – By Ezgi Yazici INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR

Turkey likely abandoned its plans for an incursion into Syria after a significant military buildup in October. Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) planned, signaled, and prepared for a Turkish military incursion into northern Syria in late October after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the military operation on October 11.[1] The incursion would have been Turkey’s fourth into Syria

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MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: How Turkish Threats in Northeast Syria Moved the SDF Closer to Assad

Thursday November 18th, 2021 by THE SYRIAN OBSERVER Turkey’s threats in northeastern Syria have pushed the SDF into a Russian-sponsored rapprochement with the Assad regime.

Since the end of last month, Turkey and its Syrian opposition allies have been threatening to intervene militarily in Northeastern Syria against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Ankara considers the SDF, whose main component is the People’s Defense Units (YPG), as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a movement considered terrorist by the international community, which has been involved in a guerilla war against the Turkish state for decades. Since then, reports about an ongoing Russian-sponsored rapprochement in Syria between the SDF and the Assad regime in Damascus have been proliferating.

For example, the pro-Saudi pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat has claimed that delegations from the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC, Political wing of the SDF) made several visits to Damascus, where they offered to give the Assad regime up to 75 percent of oil production in northeast Syria as a “gesture of goodwill”.

However, the SDC has denied these allegations.

“The reports of a dialogue with the regime are not true. The AANES has not and will not hand over any of its areas of control to the Syrian regime forces”, Luqman Ahmi, spokesman for the Autonomous-Administration of Northeastern Syria (AANES), said.

“Officially, the SDC has denied dialogue with the regime. I have myself asked officials from the SDC about the matter and they refuted it. Nevertheless, indirect talks through the Russian intermediary and military coordination might still be in place”, explains Kamal Sheikho, a Kurdish Qamishli-based journalist.

Read Also: Secret Meeting Between U.S. Delegation and SDC

However, the pro-government newspaper al-Watan also reported that Syrian regime troops were returning to Northeast Syria.

Similarly, Kurdish politician Fouad Aleeko wrote in Nedaa Post an opinion piece, in which he claimed that Syria is likely to witness the return of the Assad regime to the eastern side of the Euphrates (which is controlled by the SDF).

“The regime has never considered these regions beyond its control”, he wrote. In fact, the Damascus government has maintained some kind of presence in SDF regions through government and administrative departments, such as that of civil affairs, as well as the presence of the security services in small parts of the cities of Hassakeh and Qamishli. The regime also controls to some extent Qamishli’s airport.

For Aleeko, the main outstanding issue between the two sides is that of decentralization: While the regime insists on the Local Administration Law 107, which was passed in 2011, the SDF insists on a more decentralized approach, that would allow Kurdish-majority regions in Syria’s northeast to self-govern.

Green Light?

A prospect that frightens nationalists in Turkey, where between 15 and 20% of the population is ethnically Kurdish, mostly in the northeastern part of Anatolia on the borders with Syria. “Turkey’s policy in Northeastern Syria is driven by a security obsession. Turkey is frightened that the establishment of an autonomous Syrian Kurdistan, like the Iraqi Kurdistan, would trigger a domino effect that would push its Kurdish population to ask for more autonomy. This fear of secessionist politics is linked to the Sevres syndrome, in reference to the Treaty of Sevres which unilaterally split Turkish territory into several occupation zones, including a Kurdistan”, explains Dr. Jana Jabbour, a political scientist specializing on Turkey, and Associate Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (AUB).

But that’s not the only element factored in Turkish Foreign Policy. “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is preparing for the upcoming elections in 2023 (opinion polls have been forecasting a decline in the support for Erdogan’s AKP, editor’s note). He wants to appear as the protector of the Turkish republic, which would have been founded exactly a hundred years prior to the election”, Jabbour adds to the Observer.

But can Turkey conduct a military operation in northeast Syria without the approval of the U.S.? The latter has claimed, through several channels, that it does not condone any escalation in Syria.

“The U.S. is only present in the very east of the east of the Euphrates region. This means that the U.S. presence in the region is effectively minimal, therefore, a Turkish operation is not necessarily linked to explicit approval by the U.S.”, Sheikho told the Syrian Observer.

“It is clear that ever since the era of the Trump administration, the U.S. has subcontracted significant parts of the Syrian file to regional actors, among which Turkey. This, coupled with the fact that it maintained a military presence in the northeast of Syria, makes it unlikely that Ankara would launch any military campaign without a U.S. green light”, Jabbour says, however.

Russia, Turkey’s partner in the Astana platform, also seems to oppose any Turkish campaign in Northeastern Syria. Moscow has deployed warplanes in the Qamishli airport and its S-300 missile air defense in al-Tabqah, in the countryside of Raqqa. It has also engineered the rapprochement between the SDF and the Syrian regime as well as training exercises close to the frontlines with Turkey.

This was enough to reassure the Kurdish groups in Syria. The SDF-affiliated North Press has reported that the military campaign by Ankara was “suspended” due to the refusal of the U.S. and Russia. “It is not likely that there is currently a direct military action, and Ankara has suspended operations for the time being”, according to sources quoted by North Press. Upcoming meetings with officials from the U.S. and Russia are “not expected to achieve breakthroughs regarding the military operations demanded by Ankara in the region”, North Press added.

However, according to Kamal Sheikho, “a military operation is still possible.”



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