The killing of Zahran Aloush, leader of one of the strongest rebel group in Syria — Jaysh al-Islam — on 26 December, by a Russian airstrike shows again that Russia is willing to do whatever it takes to tip the balance of the conflict in favor of the Assad regime.
Moscow is now preoccupied with bringing the strategy initiated by Bashar al-Assad to perfection: After the attempt to convince western states that the only alternatives to Assad are chaos and the “Islamic State” fell through, the powers in the centre are to be weakened and to be virtually driven into the arms of the “IS”.
“It's clear that Ahrar al-Sham have recruited the PR agency we've dreamed of for so long, ever since the beginning of the uprising.” This is what a Syrian activist wrote on his Facebook page right after Labib al-Nahhas, foreign affairs director at Ahrar al-Sham, published an article in The Telegraph on 21 July. The article followed another by Nahhas in the Washington Post on 10 July.
In 2011, Syrian people demonstrated for dignity and freedom. Nowadays religious extremism spreads all over country. How do these opposites go together? A conference organized by Sharq and Zico house in Beirut tried to figure out how deeply rooted religious extremism is in the Syrian society. In what way was Syrian society susceptible to the religious extremism that it is facing today? Did people in Syria become more conservative over the years? Or do other priorities such as security distort the image on what actually might be the future of Syria?
Fouad M. Fouad, Syrian poet, medical doctor and AUB professor, Dr. Bente Scheller, Director of Heinrich Böll Foundation (Middle East) and Christoph Reuter, journalist at Der Spiegel and ISIS expert, discuss the issue with Reem Maghribi.
Though the anger towards the Southern Front is still not alarming yet- as people are criticizing their strategy not the SF itself- this could be the beginning of a significant shift in its community support, which could be used by its rivals.
Some of the most devastaing attacks of the airforce killed scores of civilians last week: incendiary weapons were used in Daraya, and bombing Douma's market place killed over 80 and inured more than 100 people. What about the "safe zone" Turkey and the US have been announcing?
The stronger the competing Islamist terrorist militias of IS and the Nusra Front become, and the more brutal Syria's civil war gets, the easier it is for the Syrian regime to portray itself as the sole force capable of protecting the country's civilians.