Syria

Must Read

New York Review of Books: How al-Qaeda Changed the Syrian War

Author: Sarah Birke

"The Salafist-jihadist insurgency, and the emergence of one of al-Qaeda's most fearsome affiliates within it, has fundamentally changed the war in Syria. In a conflict in which some 6,000 people continue to die every month and a third or more of the population have been forced to leave their homes, the problem of basic security has almost completely supplanted the aspirations of a once-peaceful protest movement trying to take on an autocratic, militarized, and sectarian regime. And as the regime…has resorted to increasingly brutal attacks, organizations like ISIS have spread unprecedented terror on the rebel side."

See more in Syria; Terrorism

Primary Sources

UN Report on Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

The United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic submitted an investigative report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday, September 15, 2013. The "Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013" concludes that "chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale, resulting in numerous casualties, particularly among civilians and including many children." On December 12, 2013, the final report on the investigation was released. It includes a timeline of events in Syria and actions of the UN and evidence that led to the conclusion that chemical weapons were used.

See more in Syria; Weapons of Mass Destruction; International Organizations and Alliances

Must Read

Guardian: 'Syria Is Not a Revolution Any More – This Is Civil War'

Author: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

"Ancient Russian tanks – rebel and loyalist – were lobbing shells at each other across a pistachio grove like street children throwing stones in an alleyway. The explosions sent orange columns of dust into the haze of the setting sun. Near the outpost, a government tank was smouldering, and a young girl lay dead, hit by shrapnel. A group of rebels crawled through the fields for a mile until they reached the edge of the outpost."

See more in Syria; Wars and Warfare

Ask CFR Experts

How have Iraqi Kurdish authorities responded to the Syrian civil war?

Asked by Martin Lafon, from Sciences-Po Bordeaux

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has approached the civil war in Syria with caution. The authorities governing the Iraqi autonomous region, based in Erbil, have quietly played an important role in the humanitarian response to the crisis with 197,000 (according to the UN refugee agency) Syrian refugees on KRG territory, spread across three refugee camps in the main cities of Dohuk, Erbil, and Sulaimaniyah.

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See more in Syria; Wars and Warfare; Politics and Strategy

Must Read

Foreign Policy: Why Has the U.N. Given Assad a Free Pass on Mass Murder?

Author: Colum Lynch

"Is it better to use the bully pulpit to increase pressure on a government to treat its people humanely, or is it better to nudge the government quietly behind the scenes? For decades, U.N. relief workers have preferred to keep their concerns off the headlines and reveal little about the perpetrators of violence against civilians, thereby preserving their role as neutral healers and helpers. But a spate of internal reviews of U.N. responses to mass killings from Bosnia to Rwanda and Sri Lanka have challenged that view."

See more in Syria; International Organizations and Alliances

Op-Ed

Biological Attack

Author: Laurie Garrett
ForeignPolicy.com

Laurie Garrett examines the recent reports of two polio cases in Syria, which has not reported a case since 1999, and explains why polio is coming back from the brink of eradication.

See more in Syria; Diseases, Infectious

Must Read

Journal Of Democracy: Syria and the Future of Authoritarianism

Author: Steven Heydemann

"The democratic aspirations of the protesters who filled streets and public squares across Syria in early 2011 were among the conflict's first casualties. If democracy as an outcome of the uprising was always uncertain, democratic prospects have been severely crippled by the devastation of civil war and the deepening fragmentation of Syrian society."

See more in Syria; Nation Building

Must Read

NYRB: Syria's Refugees: The Catastrophe

Authors: Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth

"One of the misconceptions about the Syrian refugee crisis is that it mainly involves people in large camps, above all in Jordan and Turkey....But according to UN figures, a full three quarters of the Syrian refugee population throughout the region are surviving on their own in towns and rural areas."

See more in Syria; Refugees and the Displaced