By Abdul Rahman Al-Haj 

Two key features characterise the Syrian Salafis. Initially, the Salafis called for non-violence, as a result of the repression that the regime had imposed on the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s. They then transformed to become Salafi jihadists, as a reaction to the regime's military repression of peaceful demonstrations.

By Afro Middle-East Centre

Monday marked the beginning of the second round of the Geneva 2 discussions, sponsored by the USA and Russia and convened under UN auspices, that intends to solve the Syrian crisis. Negotiations are being held between a delegation representing the Syrian regime, and one representing the opposition. An earlier eight-day session in January did not lead to any breakthroughs. The UN and Arab League mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, described that first round as a success insofar as it was able to get the opponents to sit face-to-face for the first time since the beginning of the crisis in 2011. With nothing to show in terms of actual political agreements that can resolve the crisis, this modest evaluation is the best that can be said about the achievements of the first round. And the prospects for the second round look bleaker.

By AlJazeera Center for Studies

Although they have different strategies to achieve their objectives, America and Russia both seek to maintain Syria's status quo. America does not want the opposition to be defeated, but it also does not want it to achieve a decisive military victory. Russia does not mind if the regime agrees to a political settlement, which it may do even if it wins the conflict militarily. Russia understands that the regime may opt for a settlement if it suspects that the armed opposition might succeed in overthrowing it.

By Afro-Middle East Centre

By agreeing to a Russian proposal to surrender its chemical weapons to the international community for destruction, Syria has averted the possibility of a US strike. However, a United Nations report claiming to have found ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that chemical weapons were used in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta last month resulted in a renewed call, led by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, to punish those responsible for the attack. This, gave rise to demands for a UN Security Council resolution with provisions for holding the perpetrators accountable. The discussion surrounding the call for a UN resolution is about the possible inclusion of a threat of force if Syria does not follow through on its commitment.

By Afro-Middle East Centre

The battle for the Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane, resulting from a siege of the city by the Islamic State group (IS) since 2 July, has become the iconic battle in the USA-led international coalition’s war against IS. Despite IS having fought its way to within a few kilometres of Baghdad, a city of far more strategic importance than Kobane, the latter has become the focus of international media attention. There are various reasons for this. First, the initial inaction and the subsequent hyperaction by the USA have generated much discussion and criticism. Second, the Kurdish population in Turkey, Iraq and Europe have successfully kept Kobane in the headlines for weeks through methods such as large, widespread protests. Third, the use of women fighters, even as suicide bombers, by Kurdish militias has also sparked more than a few conversations. However, the most significant aspects of the battle for Kobane relates to the geopolitical dimension of the conflict, especially in the way it intersects with the interests of Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, Turkey and the USA.

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