Israel and the Southern De-escalation Zone: A Closer Look at the Israeli-Syrian Border

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.

The regime and its allies have demonstrated superior military power, which has already “convinced” over 30 towns to return to regime control. Some rebel-controlled cities – Busra al-Sham, the surrounding villages to its south, and al-Jieza – agreed to comply with “reconciliation agreements,” requiring the surrender of arms and removal of key rebel leaders. In contrast to previous agreements, large scale evacuations of the area are to be avoided. However, rebels who contest the deal will be evacuated to the rebel stronghold around Idlib in northeastern Syria, which remains under Turkish supervision. Following the regime and its allies’ conquest of the majority of the northeastern part of the former “reconciliation zone” in Derʿa Province, talks will focus on the remaining rebel territory in Derʿa’s western countryside and the southern half of the city. In the meantime, according to UN estimates, the battles have pushed more than 320,000 people out of their homes, mainly towards the Israeli and Jordanian borders.[1] Continue reading “Israel and the Southern De-escalation Zone: A Closer Look at the Israeli-Syrian Border”

Israel’s Policy on the Syrian Civil War: Risks and Opportunities

 

 

Nir Boms (2018): Israel’s Policy on the Syrian Civil War: Risks and Opportunities, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, DOI: 10.1080/23739770.2017.1430006

 

The war in Syria, which to date has taken hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced almost half the country’s population, seems to be nearing an end. The Syrian tragedy, which drew in additional actors from throughout the Middle East and the world—paid militias, “volunteers,” and foreign armies—at unprecedented speed, seems to be stabilizing. This has created a new status quo, and will enable a smaller circle to wield control over the state still known as Syria when the smoke of battle finally clears. In August 2017, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) announced that over 600,000 displaced persons, some 10 percent of the total number of refugees, had already returned to their homes in Syria, many to the city of Aleppo, which, until several months earlier, had symbolized the battles between the weakened rebel camp and the regime forces.1 Syrian tractors are already clearing the way for new roads, and Russian cranes are building a new port terminal, while the Iranians have started constructing a modern “medical city” near Damascus. The year 2017 is also ending with Syria’s conquest (aided by Hizbullah)of the village of Beit Jann, one of the more significant pockets of resistance supported by Israel.

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Book review : Expat-ing Democracy: Dissidents, Technology and Democratic Discourse in the Middle East

Nir T. Boms, Expat-ing Democracy: Dissidents, Technology and Democratic Discourse in the Middle East, (Bern: Peter Lang Publishers, 2017), 246 pp.

The upheavals throughout the Middle East in 2010-2011, popularly known as the “Arab Spring,” changed the political paradigm throughout the region. For several decades, gradual political and economic changes were the norm and the political paradigm seemed to be fixed. The sudden regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt, however, reverberated in Syria, Iran, Bahrain and elsewhere. Nothing has remained the same. Hence, the importance and timeliness of Dr. Nir T. Boms’s study, Expat-ing Democracy.

A research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and the vice president of the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), Dr. Boms offers both academic and scholarly expertise and an approach of practical application. His book presents a penetrating analysis of the nature of the events and causes which led to the upheaval and the political and social consequences of these transformations in the Middle East. He discusses aspects of the “Arab Spring” which have not appeared in other scholarship on the subject. This is the result of his unique selection of sources which includes surveys conducted by the author over a period of several years and interviews with individuals active in attempting to implement the democratic process in the region. As both an observer and a participant, Boms encouraged the activists whom he interviewed. His initiatives in humanitarian projects, such as assistance to people stranded in Southern Syria, provided him with a rare opportunity of building a network of activists who are directly involved in social and civic initiatives for democracy. Ex-pating Democracy not only presents the content of the interviews but also describes the circumstances under which they were conducted. Therefore, the book is informative, original and exciting. Continue reading “Book review : Expat-ing Democracy: Dissidents, Technology and Democratic Discourse in the Middle East”

1967 in Focus

This week marks the 50th anniversary to the war of 1967, six days that have changed the Middle East as we know it. I was proud to participate in a special project that attempted  to recapture the dramatic moments occurred 50 years ago today and I hope that you will enjoy the results, a series of short –  three  minutes videos – that captures one of the most dramatic periods in Israeli history.  You will also find a special addition on the subject in the below link.