U.S. slaps sanctions on Swiss, Dutch companies over Syria
December 18, 2014 – The United States on Wednesday slapped sanctions on Dutch and Swiss oil trading firms for their dealings with the Syrian government, which has been engaged in bloody civil war with opposition forces. The U.S. Treasury put Netherlands-based Staroil B.V. as well as two Swiss-based firms, Rixo International Trading Ltd and Bluemarine SA, on its list of sanctioned entities, which effectively cuts them off from the U.S. financial system. The Treasury also put sanctions on several officials from the firms, as well as on a company based in Syria and another from the United Arab Emirates.
ISIS Increases Presence in Western Syria
A string of recent defections and rumored defections to ISIS in rebel-held areas of western Syria – including outer Eastern Ghouta, southern Dera’a Province, and northern Homs Province – signals some level of discontent with the current status quo among the Syrian armed opposition. Although the recent defections consist of relatively small numbers of fighters and face a hostile reaction from local rebel forces, ISIS will likely use this method over the short-to-medium term to expand its presence into areas near the regime and rebel heartlands of western Syria.
15 Dec 2014 01:00 PM PST – THE LONG WAR JOURNAL -Al Nusrah Front tank being used in the battle at Wadi al Daif in Idlib province -The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, Ahrar al Sham, and elements of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army have advanced on regime positions in the northwestern province of Idlib.The Al Nusrah Front, supported by jihadist groups Ahrar al Sham and Jund al Aqsa, and units from the Free Syrian Army, today claimed to have overrun Wadi Al Daif, a Syrian Army base located just east of the city of Maa’rat al Nu’man. In addition, Ahrar al Sham, Al Nusrah, and the Free Syrian Army also advanced on Al Hamadiya, which sits just south of the city; the groups claimed to have taken partial control of Al Hamadiya. weiterlesen / click to continue
Pentagon’s Syria Plan Would See Results in 2016
By Kristina Wong – The Hill – 13 Dec 2014 – The Pentagon said Friday that a year-long plan to train and equip 5,000 Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could stretch into early 2016. Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a Pentagon briefing that it would take three to five months to recruit and vet Syrian rebels before any training begins. By that timeline, the 5,000 rebels would not start training until between March and May 2015 at the earliest. And that recruiting and vetting has not begun yet, Kirby said.
MESOP SURPRISE : PRICE NAMED BY A PROMINENT GERMAN GREEN PARTY FOUNDER PETRA KELLY FOR SYRIAN OPPOSITION
Press Statement : Petra Kelly Prize Awarded to Four Abducted Members of the VDC Syria / December 2014
In Berlin, on 28 November 2014, Heinrich Böll Stiftung awarded Petra-Kelly prize to the ViolationsDocumentation Center in Syria (VDC) and its four members abducted in Syria; Razan Zeitouneh, an activist and a lawyer; her husband Wael Hammada, an activist; Samira Khalil, an activist and a former detainee, and Nazim Hamadi, a lawyer and a poet in the presence of a group of Syrian communityand intellectuals. The award ceremony started with a speech delivered by Mr. Ralf Fücks, (Thanks dear Ralf ! – MESOP) a member of the Green Party and a former member of its Program Commission.
By Maxwell Martin, a researcher at ARK, a stabilization consultancy based in Istanbul. He has previously written for Foreign Policy & Syria Comment.
Between November 27 and 29, the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) was formed after months of preparations, its backers having announced their intention that the RCC would be the unified body to lead the Syrian revolution. Although the RCC is chiefly a military unification initiative similar to the (now mostly defunct) Supreme Military Council (SMC), the body has also taken upon itself the ambitious task of administering territories in Syria no longer controlled by the regime.
“They are very good and will be much better,” he stated about the PYD’s relations with the U.S.
Read full text http://www.mesop.de/?p=55811
The co-leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim told Hurriyet daily news that the Syrian Kurdish party can play the role of a mediator between Ankara government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) peace settlement that plans to end Kurdish conflict in the state. The fight against the Islamic State (IS) is unifying not only Baghdad and Erbil, but also the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, thereby creating a completely new Kurdish reality in the region.
MESOP TODAY’S FEATURE : VERDA ÖZER HAS CONVERSATION WITH SALIH MUSLIM (PYD
Hurriyet 12 Dec 2014 : A conversation with Salih Muslim: At such a critical time, I had the chance to have a conversation with the co-president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim. The PYD is the dominant Kurdish party in Rojava (northern Syria), and Muslim was visiting Arbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in order to meet top Kurdish officials, along with some representatives from the U.S. and the U.K. Muslim started our conversation saying that the last time he was in Turkey was Oct. 4, when he met with high-level officials from the Foreign Ministry. “We are the ones who want Bashar al-Assad’s fall the most,” he stressed.
WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) MESOP TODAY’S ANALYSIS BY CHRISTOPHER PHILLIPS (MIDDLE EAST EYE) – Syria: The View from Moscow
10 December 2014 – Dr Christopher Phillips – Associate Fellow, Middle East & North Africa Programme – —- A weaker economy and the threat of Islamic State may limit some tools available to Russia, but are unlikely to alter Moscow’s overall view and strategy in Syria.
Of all the states involved in the Syria crisis, Russia has arguably been the most insulated from its fallout. Western states and their regional allies have been frustrated as their policies to topple President Bashar al-Assad repeatedly fail, while threatening jihadists such as Islamic State (IS) have thrived in the chaos. Refugees have flooded Syria’s neighbours. Even Assad’s other ally, Iran, has seen its hard-earned regional reputation shattered. In contrast, the costs to Moscow have been limited.