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In the News
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03-09-2012

Although now is apparently the time for destruction in Syria, hopefully, the time for reconstruction is not far off. While it is difficult to estimate the actual cost of the damage inflicted to the country’s physical infrastructure by more than 16 months of a popul ar uprising — most of the destruction having actually occurred after the summer of 2011 — the Syrian National Council (SNC), which is considered by Western nations as their main interlocutor in the opposition, recently estimated that Syria would need some $12 billion in immediate financial support in the first six months after a potential fall of the regime.

In the News
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19-04-2012

April 19, 2012 - Syria News Blog: A Roundup of Key International Reportage & Commentary

Syria and the UN reached an agreement today on the terms and framework for UN observers to monitor the country's troubled ceasefire. An advance group of six such observers has been on the ground in Syria since early this week, however, their mission and overall ability to have an impact on the crisis is already in question. The preliminary agreement signed today is intended to protect Syrian sovereignty whilst paving the way for more observers to enter into and operate across the country. The ceasefire, however, is heavily in question with reports of violence rising daily. This in turn will likely throw the UN monitoring mission and its expansion in jeopardy. According to a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights issued on Monday, 11,117 people have been killed over the course of the last 13 months. 

In the News
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12-04-2012

April 12, 2012 - Syria News Blog: A Roundup of Key International Reportage & Commentary

Today marked the start of Syria's country-wide ceasefire brokered by UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan. The ceasefire began at 6am this morning with most reports indicating that it appears to be tentatively holding. The lead-up to the ceasefire has been violent and tense, with numerous reports charging that some 1000 were killed in violence across the country over the course of the last week. The violence crossed a critical threshold on April 9, when shots were fired from Syria into neighboring Turkey resulting in several casualties. The same day, a similar cross-border shooting into Lebanon left a Lebanese reporter dead. The numbers of Syrian refugees continue to swell in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, fueling fears that the crisis is spreading deeper into the region. To that end, Turkish officials, outraged by the cross-border shootings, and concerned about the growing ranks of Syrian refugees in Turkey, are reportedly considering invoking NATO's Article 5 to protect the Turkish border with Syria. At this point, observance of the ceasefire by all sides will be key not only to mitigating the country's internal turmoil, but also intensifying threats to regional security.

In the News
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11-04-2012

Prospects for Syria Truce Narrow as Violence Spikes Before April 10 Deadline for Military Withdrawal 

Representatives from over 60 countries met for the 'Friends of Syria' conference in Istanbul on April 1 and agreed to channel millions of dollars into Syria in support of the country's opposition. At the same time and in a highly controversial move, conference attendees proclaimed the Syrian National Council "a legitimate representative of all Syrians". On Monday, UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan announced that the Syrian government had officially agreed to a complete military withdrawal from the country's urban areas by April 10. The following day, however, violent military incursions and security crackdowns continued in full force across the country - driving foreign officials to call Damascus's commitment to the peace plan into question. At the same time, a surge of international reportage suggests that Syrian revolutionaries are increasingly disillusioned by the relative inaction of the international community and the ongoing security crackdowns, with calls from among their ranks for weaponry increasing daily. The death toll from the last ten days of violence has already surpassed 700.

In the News
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29-03-2012

Damascus Accepts UN Peace Plan, Arab Leaders Meet in Baghdad to Discuss Syria Crisis, Death Toll Nears 10,000

On Tuesday, March 27, the Syrian government accepted the peace plan set forth by UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan. The move by Damascus has been met with cautious optimism by some, and deep skepticism by many others as violence continues to shake the country, with reports also emerging of growing clashes along the country's sensitive border with Lebanon. Today, marks the start of a three-day meeting of Arab leaders in Baghdad, Iraq, the focus of which is the crisis in Syria. While attendees have thus far reiterated calls for Damascus to adhere to Annan's peace plan and implement an immediate cease-fire, none have expressed willingness to move beyond harsh words. In just a few days, the much anticipated 'Friends of Syria' summit is set to convene in Istanbul, Turkey. In advance of the meeting, members of Syria's opposition have focused on efforts to unify and expand their ranks, with few clear signs of success. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights now puts the total death toll from the uprising at a staggering 9,734.

In the News
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21-03-2012

UN Security Council Issues Statement Supporting Annan Peace Plan on Heels of Damascus, Aleppo Bombings

The UN Security Council issued a presidential statement on Wednesday, March 21 in support of Kofi Annan's proposed peace plan for Syria. The non-binding statement calls for a ceasefire, two-hour daily halts to the violence for the provision of humanitarian aid, and Syria-led political dialogue aimed at addressing "the legitimate concerns of the Syrian people". The Russia-backed statement, however, comes only with the threat of the UNSC considering "further measures" in the event of Damascus's noncompliance. Just days earlier, a series of deadly bombings rocked the country's capital and the northern city of Aleppo, a nightmarish start to the second year of the revolution.

In the News
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15-03-2012

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the uprising in Syria. Thousands of articles on the recent events, the country's history, culture, religious dynamics, economy, and role in the Middle East, have been published since March 2011. Wading through the press in search of a glimpse of truth, whatever one might expect or believe that to be, is daunting. The outcome is often a series of divergent perspectives that leave one with more questions than answers. In commemoration of the past year of the country's revolution, this post puts forth a series of compelling articles on Syria. Except for one, the January 31, 2011 Wall Street Journal interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, all were published within the last year. Many are poignant, others academic, still others are likely construed as controversial, but all are worth reading for the various perspectives they offer on the current situation and the issues from which it stemmed. 

In the News
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15-03-2012

Military Operations in Idlib, Daraa Rage as Annan Awaits Clarification from Damascus on Peace Proposals

UN-Arab League Syria envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus on Saturday, March 10 to initiate talks on his "concrete proposals" for a peace plan for the country. The plans reportedly entailed a comprehensive ceasefire, the start of political dialogue, and the distribution of humanitarian aid. Following a weekend of meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian religious leaders, and members of the internal opposition, however, Annan left Damascus empty-handed. Yesterday, the envoy reportedly received a response from Damascus to the proposals - details for which remain unannounced. The conflict remains entirely unabated, however, as government forces intensify operations in Idlib and now Daraa, and reports of alleged massacres of civilians in Homs continue to emerge.

In the News
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08-03-2012

Syrian Pound Plummets, Fears of Grave Poverty Spike, UN Aid Chief Arrives in Syria and Proclaims Homs 'Devastated'

Following a 27-day broad-scale military assault on the Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr, armed members of the Syrian opposition declared a 'tactical retreat' from the area on March 1. Syrian military forces regained control of the neighborhood, though it was not until nearly a week later that the Syrian Red Crescent was permitted entry to deliver aid. A number of foreign embassies closed their doors in Syria this week in response to the country's still worsening security crisis and widespread UN and international claims that Syrian forces are committing crimes against humanity in the response to the opposition. Early this week, the Syrian government granted UN aid chief Valerie Amos a visa to the country with her arrival in Damascus on Wednesday viewed as a primer for that of UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan. Annan is set to arrive in Syria on Saturday, March 10 to help broker a peace plan. Critically, the Syrian pound plunged to a new low of 105 to the US dollar today, fueling the country's growing economic crisis and fears among many Syrians of a collapse into grave poverty.

In the News
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01-03-2012

Weekly posts in the Syria News Blog will resume next Thursday, March 08, 2012. Thank you for your patience.