Tag Archives: Tartus

Russia Tries To Succeed Where the West Fails in Libya

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) and Lincoln Pigman on 14 September 2017

Libya, which has been wracked by instability and violence since 2011, is re-emerging as a geopolitical hotspot. With opposing forces fighting for control of the war-torn country—the main two being the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA)—foreign powers have begun taking sides, internationalizing the conflict. For Western observers, the growing involvement of Russia, a major ally of LNA commander Khalifa Haftar, represents a particular concern.

Coming on the heels of the Russian military intervention in Syria, Moscow’s role in Libya’s civil war may seem, at first glance, like déjà vu. Once again, it appears that the Kremlin is working to consolidate the power of a pro-Russian regional strongman and establish a “crescent of Russian influence” across the Middle East. And given the similarities between Haftar and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, some degree of anxiety is understandable. Like Assad, who has long appealed to foreign governments by referring to Syrian rebels as terrorists, Haftar often frames himself as a bulwark against violent extremism in Libya, where the Islamic State remains active and Islamists have formed powerful militias and entered mainstream politics. Continue reading

How Many Alawis Have Been Killed In Syria?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 20, 2015

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In a report on the internal divisions in the Assad regime and the passing of Syria’s sovereignty to Iran by Ruth Sherlock in The Sunday Telegraph on May 17, there was this stunning sentence: “Perhaps a third of all Alawite males of military age have been killed in the civil war.” This is a startling thought.

To determine if this figure for the proportion of Alawis killed is plausible it is necessary to know how many Alawis there were in Syria at the outset of the war, and how many people have been killed during the war. Continue reading

Hama: The Forgotten Front

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 12, 2014

Aftermath of the Hama massacre, 1982

Aftermath of the Hama massacre, 1982

Hama. The very word in the Syrian lexicon denotes violence and the immovability of the House of Assad. There, in 1982, Hafez al-Assad secured the title deeds to his dynasty. Hafez had intruded into the Lebanon during its time of sorrow and the “blowback”—which it turns out is not only for Americans—had sparked an uprising inside Syria led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Continue reading

The Sahel Front

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 28, 2014

A map of the Five Fronts command, an early effort at rebel unification that split the country into five strategic zones. The Sahel or Coast Front is also called the Central Front

A map of the Five Fronts command, an early effort at rebel unification that split the country into five strategic zones. The Sahel or Coast Front is also called the Central Front

On March 21, a major offensive began by anti-regime forces in the north of Latakia, an area where the regime has long been unable to re-fasten its rule. Continue reading