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   2015 REPORTS



The chaotic Syrian Civil war has substantially changed shape over the few years that it has been in progress. Important powers have taken a hand. There is now a clear recognition that the outburst of Salafist energy from neighbouring Sunni states, originally expressed through their clients, centres on taking down the religiously liberal Asad government, certainly not in imposing a democracy.

Now the embattled Syrian forces confront or cooperate with the US, UK, France, Iran and now Russia, For all of them the primary target is now the very successful Islamic State which from one of Al Qaeda's armed groups in the region, now openly considers itself at war with the whole 'kafir' non-believing world. IS has on the back of great fervor and sacrifice of its youthful adherents, plus adequate funds, shocked the middle east and the world, with its SUICIDE attacks out of region. The great slaughter in Paris recently being the most dramatic. But even before this, IS had successfully occupied great tracts of Syria and Iraq, declaring itself a state on that basis. It has actively emerged now fighting in Libya, Egypt's Sinai Province, Afghanistan and elsewhere. We report the view that 'ISIS FIRST' must take priority.

We look at the so-called 'secular opposition' in Syria and conclude that there really isn't one, although several competing religious groups. We made this enquiry because 'the talks about talks' to replace the existing Assad government by peaceful means, refers to representatives of fighting groups of 'moderates,' being invited to the negotiating table. This will disappoint. Not much prospect of real moderates getting there, as readers will see.

Finally, by way of hope, we look back at a recent long fighting crisis centred on Serbia in Yugoslavia, that from 1991 exercised the world, finally resolving the major issues in 2008. It too looked intractable, but the shooting has stopped. In 2015 it is steadily being resolved.

Syria: Is there a Secular Opposition in Syria?

The short answer is: not really
Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in Syria? A better question might be which ‘guys’ offer the best chances for a resolution of the war, which has long passed the threshold of ‘civil’ to become brutal and hopeless. The reality of wars makes ‘black and white’ delineations problematic at best. The current Syrian conflict may have started, appearing as a civil war, pitting a population desperate for political and economic change, but it quickly assumed a deeper and more violent nature because it evolved into an ethno-cultural and religious war, burying any political character under the desert. The politics have been replaced by a greater and regional debate between different regional powers, divided in two general ‘camps’, based on its members identifying as Sunni or Shiite. Accordingly, the Syrian ‘civil war’ has morphed into a full-scale regional conflict, which extends well into Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen acting as proxy battlefields for Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, Russia and the United States and in a secondary role the European Union. In that respect, the Syrian civil war has effectively delivered a fatal blow to the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1915, which at the end of WW1 handed the provinces of the defeated Ottoman Empire to France and Great Britain.   [

Syria: ISIS First - Everything else will have to wait

Analysis: The mega-attack in Paris changes, in the short run, the nature of the international debate over Syria's future. The West wanted to have it both ways: Destroy the Islamic State and topple Assad's regime. “ [Nahum Barnea]

The above, that concisely reflects our view, is a quote from the Israeli Press following the Paris massacre. There are no ’ifs’ and no ‘buts,’ to this proposal. Newnations believes that this simple analysis says it all. It is becoming long overdue and is the only intelligent order of priorities.

But first ask: does Assad threaten world order? Does he send suicide bombers into Europe to create terror? Is he threatening any of his neighbours? Are his radical islamist preachers grooming know-nothing western youngsters into the adventure of a lifetime –likely to be a short lifetime?

No, of course not. Islamists aside, if his government is a problem then it is a localised problem. Look around, they don’t do democracy in this part of the world.

The Assad regime is authoritarian, with all its ugliness for the individual, but so are all the Arab states, check out Egypt or Saudi Arabia. But Syria doesn’t spout religion, in fact it is the ONLY Arab state that is tolerant of ALL religions  [

Serbia: The Shooting has Stopped

Given the sense of hopelessness in witnessing the current inhumanities of Syria, Iraq, the upsurge of religious excess displayed by ISIS there- and in neighbouring countries –Egypt and Libya for example; to review Serbia now as then, the keystone of the Balkans, can be something of a corrective to despair.

As recently as 2010 the competing interests of Serbia, Kosovo and the Balkans seemed to be intractable and quite hopeless, rather as currently on the other side of the sprawl of Turkey, the present middle- east drama is playing out.

All is not well it is true, but the years of daily fighting have stopped; the rule of law is well on its way through the process of being re-established.

Whilst the last national problem Kosovo, is not yet fully accepted internationally –due to Serbia calling in all of it’s and Russia’s friends, it is in real terms self- governing, a fact accepted by Serbia, with no chance of reverting to its former colonial status. But most important , as with all of the Balkans –the shooting has stopped, it’s over!  [



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