Western diplomats are very aware that Syria and Russia will increasingly throw this narrative in their face. Will become extremely difficult if not impossible for the international donor community to stick to the “no development under Assad” policy.

From Russian Foreign Ministry briefing yesterday. As more of Syria returns to government control – and is thus administered and provided aid via Damascus – Russia works to make West choose between economic blockade of Syria and helping Syria’s civilians.


Jomana Qaddour is a policy analyst and doctoral student at Georgetown Law, and founder of the humanitarian organization Syria Relief & Development. Ibrahim Al-Assil is a Syrian political analyst. He is a nonresident fellow at the Middle East Institute and Orient Research Center, and a Mason fellow at Harvard Kennedy School.

The stakes of Monday’s discussion in Helsinki are high—especially for U.S. policy in Syria.

On July 16, Presidents Trump and Putin will meet in Helsinki to discuss a variety of issues, the most critical of which perhaps will be the ongoing carnage in Syria. The background to this discussion foreordains limits on how it can proceed, for the indelible fact is that for consecutive administrations the U.S. government has essentially ceded Syria to Russia and its local ally, Iran. There are good arguments for such reticence, including those made by former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Israel does not grant protection to a single refugee – directing them en route Mediterranean Sea

Syria rebels begin evacuating ‘cradle’ of uprising in Daraa

By AFP 40 minutes ago – By Mohamad Abazeed – 15 July 2018 –  DARAA, Syria – Syrian rebels and their relatives began evacuating the southern city of Daraa on Sunday under a deal to bring the “cradle” of the country’s uprising back under government control.

The highly symbolic transfers came as Russian-backed government forces advanced in the neighbouring province of Quneitra, with air strikes pounding rebel positions perilously close to the Israeli-occupied Golan heights.After securing Damascus in May, President Bashar al-Assad turned his attention to rebels in the strategically vital south, where protests against his rule first erupted seven years ago. Nearly three weeks of bombardment saw beleaguered rebels agree with Russia earlier this month to hand over Daraa province, before reaching a similar deal for its capital this week.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ISRAEL STÜTZT ASSAD – Wieso Israel sich weigert, Putin als Feind zu betrachten – Jüdische Rundschau

Der Teufel, den man kennt, ist besser“: Experte zu Israels Haltung zu Syrien

13 Juli 2018 – RT/sputnik – Trotz der zunehmenden Spannung in den syrische-israelischen Beziehungen scheint Tel Aviv seinen Ton gegenüber dem syrischen Präsidenten gemildert zu haben. Der israelische Sicherheitsexperte Dr. Mark Heller hat in einem Interview mit Sputnik diesen Tonwechsel Israels kommentiert.

Zuvor hatten Medien unter Verweis auf einen ranghohen israelischen Beamten berichtet, dass der israelische Premierminister Benjamin Netanjahu bei seinem jüngsten Treffen mit dem russischen Präsidenten Wladimir Putin geäußert, Tel Aviv versuche nicht, den syrischen Präsidenten Bashar al-Asad zu stürzen, und werde sich nicht in syrische Angelegenheiten einmischen, falls die bestehende Vereinbarungen eingehalten werden sollten.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUNDER : Israel’s Active Defense Campaign in Syria: The Next Phase

By Yaakov Lappin July 12, 2018 BESA CENTER ISRAEL BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 892, July 12, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Tehran’s recent decision to attempt direct clashes with Israel resulted in a resounding defeat on May 10, when the IDF destroyed 50 Iranian military targets in Syrian territory. Iran is now shifting gears back to its traditional proxy approach. While it appears reluctant to mobilize Hezbollah against Israel right now and risk a full-scale regional war, it is continuing to work on securing a military position in Syria to use for future aggression. Israel must maintain its flexibility and responsiveness in order to prevent the creation of a second Iranian mass missile front on the border.

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Matthew RJ Brodsky @RJBrodsky

13 July 2018 – New evergreen Tweet? “Netanyahu asks Putin to remove #Iran‘s forces from #Syria.” @AcrossTheBay @JSchanzer & I describe the stakes & provide policy options in @FDD‘s “Controlled Chaos: The Escalation of Conflict between #Israel & Iran in War-Torn Syria” 

New Publication by Tony Badran and others:

Don’t Get Out of Syria – Assad’s Victory Will Only Lead to More Chaos – By Jennifer Cafarella ( FOREIGN AFFAIRS) 11 July 2018


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not won his country’s civil war; rather, the war is entering a more dangerous phase. Forces fighting on his behalf have made important gains in recent years, capturing Syria’s second city, Aleppo, in 2016 and securing his capital, Damascus, in 2018. They are currently attacking the rebel stronghold in the southern provinces of Quneitra and Daraa, where the revolution began. Together, these victories have changed the trajectory of the war, weakening the moderate opposition and suggesting to many international observers that the fight for Syria is all but over.

But although the regime’s advances are impressive on a map, they will not end the war. Assad is weaker than he seems. His rule depends on the backing of foreign patrons, such as Iran and Russia, and the exhaustion of states that once opposed him, such as Jordan. His decision to internationalize the war will lay the foundation for future wars, and his tactics of mass slaughter threaten to fuel a long-term, global jihadist insurgency that will keep combat raging in Syria for years to come.

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July 11, 2018  – SPECIAL DISPATCH  No. 7562 – Russian Commentators: What Can Be Expected From The Third Putin-Netanyahu Meeting This Year?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Moscow for more than viewing the World Cup tournament. He will meet with Vladimir Putin and it is a foregone conclusion that the Iranian presence in Syria is the main topic of their discussion. The meeting has drawn interest because it shortly precedes the July 16, 2018 summit between Donald Trump and Putin in Helsinki. On July 6, 2018, Henry Meyer published an article on stating that a deal was in the works in which Iran would be kept away from Israel’s borders, and the U.S. would drop its demands for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s ouster.[1] The Netanyahu visit and the Meyer article have provoked discussion in Russia on how to placate the Israelis and Trump without angering the Iranians, whose boots on the ground in Syria helped maintain Assad and limited the cost of Russia’s interventions in Syria. Below are a few Russian comments on the issue and on the timing of the two meetings.

Solonnikov: Trump-Putin Meeting Will Build On Netanyahu-Putin Meeting

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MDC Researcher Nir Boms and Karolina Zielińska discuss shifting demographics and humanitarian concerns in light of recent developments on the Israeli-Syrian border.

 THE MOSHE DAYAN CENTER – 12 July 2018 – In mid-June, Syrian and pro-regime forces began what they see as a decisive (and long overdue) campaign in southern Syria aimed at eliminating the rebel resistance within the southern “de-escalation” zone along the Israeli and Jordanian borders. The military campaign involved substantial Syria government forces advised and assisted by Russian military and air force personnel.

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MESPOTAMIA NEWS : NETANJAHU’S SYRIA DIRECTION = WARNING ASSAD AND ALSO BACKING HIM – The Israeli official summarized Netanyahu’s line: We won’t take action against the Assad regime.Syria Daily: Another Israeli Airstrike Warning to Regime — But Assad Can Stay !

By  –  SCOTT LUCAS  – eaworldview – July 12, 2018  – Israel has carried out more airstrikes warning the Assad regime, while at the same time signalling that it is accepting Bashar al-Assad’s Russian-enabled hold on power.The latest attacks by the Israeli Air Force, shortly after midnight on Wednesday, came hours after a regime drone was shot down in Israeli airspace. Three regime positions in the Quneitra region, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, were targeted.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported the launch of “a number of missiles at several army positions”. Following standard practice, SANA said air defenses downed the missiles, near the village of Hader.

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