Un camp de déplacés syriens au nord-ouest de la province d’Idleb, en Syrie, le 11 juillet 2020. Photo d’archives AFP

Le 28 mai dernier, la Syrie est devenue l’un des 34 membres du conseil exécutif de la 74e Assemblée mondiale de la santé de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS). Douze pays se sont présentés pour occuper les douze sièges (sur 34) disponibles, la Syrie ayant été nommée – avec l’Afghanistan – par le Bureau régional pour la Méditerranée orientale de cette organisation (EMRO). Cette procédure s’est déroulée sans vote et sans qu’aucun des membres donateurs siégeant déjà dans cette enceinte ne conteste ce choix, alors qu’ils en avaient la faculté.

L’admission de la Syrie n’est qu’une des nombreuses erreurs de jugement et de gestion dans les approches humanitaires et diplomatiques de la Syrie et du Liban.…  Seguir leyendo »

A worker unloads humanitarian aid from a truck in Idlib, Syria, on June 9. (Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

A missile attack last weekend in northern Syria left a hospital in ruins and further casualties in a residential area. But these types of attacks have become less common in Syria. Although this civil war remains among the most devastating global conflicts, the number of fatalities has decreased over the past couple of years, and in 2020 in particular.

What prompted this decline? The ACLED data on fatalities in Syria reveals a sudden decline after March 5, 2020, and a relatively low level of violence since. That’s the date on which Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to a cease-fire in Idlib, the last opposition stronghold in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian military police armoured personnel carrier (APC) passing through Amuda in Hasakeh province, Syria. Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images.

The summit between US president Joe Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Geneva is the optimal setting for Washington to begin to broker a deal on Syria.

Russia has been craving US recognition of its rise in geopolitical status, partly gained through its intervention in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Biden’s initiation of the summit is a nod to Russia’s ego, which can pave the way for future US-Russian engagement on Syria beyond the ministerial-level talks that have been taking place behind closed doors.

Only Washington can steer the Syrian conflict towards resolution – if it steps up bilateral talks with Moscow.…  Seguir leyendo »

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, examines aid materials at a border crossing between Turkey and Syria on June 3. (U.S. Embassy in Turkey via AP)

When Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin meet for the first time as presidents in Geneva next week, Syria will be on the agenda. If the two leaders make progress on humanitarian aid there, that could send a positive signal regarding cooperation between the two countries and raise hope for millions of suffering people. But if Putin insists on starving the Syrian people, Biden must step in to help them.

More than 3 million Syrians, most of them internally displaced refugees, are massed in the northwestern province of Idlib. They are hungry and desperate, constantly dodging bombs dropped by the Syrian regime and the Russian military.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad celebrate last week in Damascus after it was announced that he won another term in office. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife cast their ballots in the May 26 presidential election in the town of Douma, a suburb of the capital city of Damascus. The location was not coincidental — Assad’s forces lost control of Douma in 2012 and regained it only after years of bombings, a starvation siege and the deployment of chemical weapons in April 2018 finally subdued the city.

Voting in Douma sent a specific message to Syrians — one of reconquest and domination. The regime made no attempt to present the election as free and fair, further stressing its ability to lie and force others to parrot the lie.…  Seguir leyendo »

The scene of an Israeli air strike in Syria’s Latakia region is pictured on 5 May 2021 (SANA/AFP)

The explosion of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile in southern Israel on 22 April, followed by Israeli attacks around the northern city of Latakia on 5 May, were only the latest episodes of the shadow war that Israel and Iran have been fighting in war-ravaged Syria for several years. They will not be the last.

Neither side wants these occasional flareups to grow into a fully fledged confrontation. But the risk of escalation is real due to potential miscalculations or technical errors in both sides’ attempts to achieve tactical gains.

The involvement of Hezbollah, Tehran’s most important non-state ally, in the Syrian theatre carries a further risk that comparatively low-level altercations in Syria may spill over into Lebanon and trigger a destructive conflict between the heavily armed Shia group and Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Depuis dix ans, la vie des réfugiés syriens est surréelle

Le Liban est en passe de s’effondrer : frappé de plein fouet par la pandémie de Covid-19, une explosion d’une puissance « quasi nucléaire » ayant détruit un tiers de la capitale, et une crise économique, financière et sociale sans précédent font que plus de la moitié de la population est désormais piégée dans la pauvreté. Le nombre de familles ayant basculé dans l’extrême pauvreté représente ainsi 23 % de la population résidente en 2020 selon l’ONU, soit trois fois plus qu’en 2018.

Alors que, bien avant les crises de ces dernières années, les autorités libanaises ont activement privé les populations vulnérables résidant dans le pays de toute véritable assistance, ces dernières sont désormais confrontées à des défis d’une ampleur jamais imaginée auparavant : des multiples privations qu’elles doivent endurer à la détérioration profonde de leur environnement social, en passant par le manque d’opportunités d’améliorer leurs conditions de vie.…  Seguir leyendo »

Residentes de Alepo entre los escombros tras un bombardeo.H. Katan / Reuters

Recuerdo la primera vez que estuve en Damasco. Fue en 2006. Sus calles eran una mezcla fascinante de imágenes bíblicas y de una dinámica capital moderna. Alepo, en aquella época la localidad más poblada, era una ciudad culta y muy bien conservada. Sus habitantes se vanagloriaban de contar con el bazar más antiguo de Oriente. Hoy cuesta reconocer el país en las imágenes recogidas con drones sobrevolando Alepo y Guta oriental que han dado la vuelta al mundo. Imágenes que ilustran la destrucción después de una década de guerra civil.

Pero una guerra no son solo edificios destruidos. Entre 400.000 y 550.000 personas han fallecido.…  Seguir leyendo »

Photo d’illustration : des membres des FSI vérifient les papiers de réfugiés syriens quittant Ersal, lors d’un retour organisé le 28 juin 2018. Photo d’archives AFP

Le 6 mars, le ministre sortant des Affaires sociales et du Tourisme, Ramzi Moucharrafiyé, s’est rendu à Damas afin de s’entretenir avec le ministre syrien des Affaires étrangères Fayçal Mekdad sur le retour des réfugiés installés au Liban. Alors que le pays du Cèdre est confronté à une crise économique, financière et sociale majeure, ce sujet est considéré par Beyrouth comme une priorité politique : le 14 juillet 2020, le gouvernement a publié un plan pour le retour des réfugiés syriens, tandis qu’en novembre dernier, la Russie a accueilli une conférence sur les réfugiés à Damas. C’est à la lumière de ces deux éléments que la visite de Moucharrafiyé doit être considérée.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dix ans plus tard, la Syrie crie au secours

J’ai quitté la Syrie depuis plus de 50 ans pour m’établir au Québec, mais mes racines syriennes remontent en surface devant l’ampleur de la catastrophe humanitaire que vit actuellement mon pays natal après 10 ans de guerre civile dévastatrice.

La situation désastreuse s’est aggravée encore dernièrement en raison des sanctions économiques « extrêmes » imposées par l’ex-président Trump, qui ont fait perdre à la livre syrienne plus de 90 % de sa valeur. Le kilo de viande équivaut maintenant au salaire mensuel d’un ingénieur. Et comme un malheur ne vient jamais seul, la pandémie a eu raison de ce qui restait de la résilience de la population syrienne.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hope still lives among the Syrian people, 10 years after the war started

While many are vaguely aware of it, I'm not sure most people could tell you how or why the Syrian war started. Some likely assume the origin was about religion or ethnicity or maybe about territory or terrorism.

In some ways, it eventually became about all of that, but it started much more simply, when, against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, 15 boys were arrested in the nondescript border town of Dara'a after anti-regime graffiti was sprayed on a high school wall. They were imprisoned, and horrifically tortured, sparking the outrage of their small community and observant human rights activists.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Syrian child poses atop a stack of neutralized shells at a metal scrapyard in the northwestern Idlib province on Wednesday. (Aaref Watad/AFP/Getty Images)

In February 2011, speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, then-Vice President Joe Biden pledged to support people around the world who were being slaughtered by their own governments for demanding basic freedom and dignity. “When a state engages in atrocity, it forfeits its sovereignty,” Biden said. One month later, the people of Syria took to the streets to demand that their government treat them like human beings. In response, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad unleashed the worst systematic atrocities since the Nazis.

Now, 10 years later, Biden is back in the White House — this time as president — and despite what you may have heard, the Syrian revolution continues.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un portrait de Bachar al-Assad dans une rue de Damas, en mars 2019. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP)

Il y a dix ans, dans le sillage des printemps arabes, des Syriens se sont levés pacifiquement pour réclamer la dignité et la liberté. En plus de faire face à la répression de la dictature, ils ont fait les frais d’une propagande redoutable, mettant en doute l’existence même de leur révolte. Cette désinformation, caractéristique des régimes autoritaires, a trouvé beaucoup d’échos au niveau international. Jouant notamment sur la méfiance à l’égard des médias partagée ici par un grand nombre de citoyens, un récit falsificateur s’est peu à peu établi en prétendant «rétablir la vérité». Cette inversion des réalités s’invite désormais dans des prises de positions politiques, dans certains discours médiatiques et dans des lieux culturels : elle tente de réécrire le conflit syrien en faisant du régime de Damas tantôt une victime, tantôt un sauveur, jamais un coupable.…  Seguir leyendo »

These are the women who crushed the Caliphate

In early 2016, the first time a friend told Gayle Tzemach Lemmon the story of Kurdish Women's Projection Units in northeastern Syria -- also known as the YPJ -- she had two reactions. The first was fascination: How had no one else told the tale of these women, aligned with US forces (and later provided with support by the Trump administration) who were fighting the Islamic State -- a group which routinely kidnapped, raped and murdered women?

The second reaction, when an American friend of Lemmon's who had been working with the women's units, urged her, "Come on, you have to see it," was: "No."…  Seguir leyendo »

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is accused of a wide range of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Photograph: Sana/AFP/Getty Images

Ten years after it began, Syria’s horrific civil war has faded from the headlines. Reluctant to get involved, US and European politicians, and the western public, mostly look the other way. Russia plays a pivotal role, but on the wrong side. Interventionist regional states such as Turkey, Israel, and Iran prioritise selfish, short-term interests. The result is stalemate – a semi-chilled conflict characterised by sporadic violence, profound pain and strategic indifference.

Yet this epic failure to halt the war continues to have far-reaching, negative consequences for international security, democratic values and the rule of law, as well as for Syria’s citizens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una nueva oportunidad para Siria

La Administración Trump ejerció una confusa política en Siria cuyo acto final fue el anuncio de la salida de las tropas norteamericanas que apoyaban los esfuerzos kurdos contra el Estado Islámico. James Mattis, veterano general con amplio conocimiento de la zona gracias a su participación en la guerra del Golfo, Afganistán e Irak, presentó su renuncia como secretario de Defensa al día siguiente. La llegada del presidente Biden al poder en Estados Unidos ha hecho albergar la esperanza de que es posible variar el rumbo.

El pasado mes de enero el Centro Carter, un think-tank demócrata y de gran prestigio que ha supervisado decenas de elecciones desde 1989 y ha participado en la mediación de numerosos conflictos, publicó un breve documento con el esbozo de una nueva política hacia Siria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jihadists of former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham block demonstrators from approaching the Bab al-Hawa crossing between Turkey and Syria’s north-western Idlib province on 20 September 2019. Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP

If the Biden administration is looking to correct Washington’s overly militarised foreign policy, one opportunity to redefine U.S. counter-terrorism strategy lies in Idlib, an area which U.S. officials once described as “the largest al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11”. The north-western Syrian province is no longer that, for reasons explained below. But, in other respects, it remains what it has been for much of the Syrian war: a crowded refuge for three million civilians, the site of looming potential humanitarian disaster and a last stronghold of Syrian rebel groups. Its fate could also prove pivotal for the future of – and U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dix ans après le début du conflit, le bilan humanitaire reste catastrophique. Plus de 5,5 millions de Syriens sont encore réfugiés dans les pays avoisinants dont 3,6 millions en Turquie et 880 000 au Liban, pays déjà très durement touché par une crise économique. Six millions de personnes sont toujours déplacées à l’intérieur de la Syrie. Depuis 2015, près de 1,9 million de migrants, en premier lieu des Syriens, ont tenté de trouver refuge en Europe.

La Syrie reste un des pays les plus dangereux au monde pour les humanitaires et tous les professionnels de santé engagés dans les soins aux victimes du conflit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Clothes are hung up to dry at a Syrian refugee camp in Marjayoun, southern Lebanon, in November. (Aziz Taher/Reuters)

As winter approaches and the covid-19 pandemic intensifies throughout the Middle East, Syrian refugees face parallel threats of bitter cold, coronavirus outbreaks in refugee communities, and economic hardship because of widespread lockdowns. Today, after nearly a decade of war, more than 5.5 million Syrians live as refugees in neighboring countries, primarily in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

These refugees have faced enormous challenges, including stringent limitations on the ability to work legally, financial and political barriers to legal residency, and few opportunities for resettlement to a third country. In 2020, the pandemic and intermittent lockdowns exacerbated economic crises in Jordan and Lebanon, making it even more difficult for refugees to work formally or informally to pay for rent and basic needs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bekir Kasim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Syrian National Army soldiers praying before an event mark the first anniversary of the Turkish-backed Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria Tal Abyad, Syria on October 13, 2020; many former SNA fighters are now deployed as mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan

“They sent us directly to the front lines. The situation is terrible. Terrible. There is fighting every day. We are charged with storming. There is no rest. There are many men missing and we can’t get to them,” explained Abdel Basit, a Syrian mercenary speaking from Azerbaijan (for their safety, I have altered the names of all living Syrians in this report). What made this former Syrian rebel, displaced from his home in Rastan, in rural Homs, decide to sign up to fight in a foreign country? His father, who is still in Rastan, had to take out a large loan because of a family emergency, but “his salary is not enough [to pay it off].…  Seguir leyendo »