Justin Vela

Posts Tagged ‘syria

Ahead of Washington talks, Turkey ‘all in’ with the Syrian opposition

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Turkey suffered a shock over the weekend as nearly 50 people were killed and over a hundred injured in a double car bombing near the border with Syria.

While the regime of Bashar Al Assad was almost immediately blamed for the attack, nine Turkish citizens were the first people to be detained in connection with the bombing. This suggests that the Syrian regime maintains a sophisticated spy network in Turkey. I wrote about this for The National.

While Syria denied any involvement yesterday, there have been numerous allegations of Syrian regime agents operating in southern Turkey.

Most have been alleged attempts to kidnap Syrian opposition figures and defectors on Turkish soil and take them back across the border into Syria.

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The bombing took place in Reyhanli, a town adjacent to the border with Syria where many Syrian refugees live. Reyhanli also serves as a hub for numerous aid workers and members of the Syrian opposition who go back and forth across the border.

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Written by Justin Vela

May 13, 2013 at 9:31 am

Bosporus Blog…Kurds & Arabs and Syria’s Oil…

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Weeks of fighting gave way earlier this month to the quiet of a ceasefire agreement signed by militants in Ras Al Ayn, a mixed town of Arabs, Kurds, and Christians in northern Syria.

Beginning in November, Arab rebels seeking to oust the regime of Bashar Al Assad fought Kurdish militants affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The Arab fighters accuse the PYD of collaborating with the regime. The fight was exacerbated by localized tensions between Kurds and Arabs, who have not always gotten along well in Syria’s northern, oil-rich Jazira region. I wrote about the ceasefire for The National.

There might be as much as 3.15 billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves in northern Syria, along with 6.9 billion barrels of discovered reserves, according to an article in The National Interest. This is not the same kind of oil wealth that can be found in Northern Iraq, for example, but it is not insignificant.

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Written by Justin Vela

February 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Rebel truce with Kurds is shaky, say experts // The National…

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Published by The National on February 22, 2013

CEYLANPINAR, TURKEY // A ceasefire agreement that ended three months of fighting between Arab rebel groups and Kurdish militants in Syria’s north-east is unlikely to hold, experts say.

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Written by Justin Vela

February 22, 2013 at 9:27 am

Bosporus Blog…Turkey and the quiet after a car bombing…

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The Turkish and Syrian opposition banners on a rooftop in Ain al-Baida, Syria. December 2011.

The flags of Turkey and the Syrian opposition atop a rooftop in Ain al-Baida, Syria. December 2011.

A perceptible quiet followed a car bombing Monday just outside Turkish territory, at the country’s Cilvegozu border crossing with Syria.

Where was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s characteristically aggressive rhetoric?

Even Erdogan occasionally knows when it’s best to keep quiet. Most of the international community is by nearly all indications fixated on a negotiated settlement to the two-year conflict in Syria. Erdogan’s own past threats towards Syria were revealed to be fairly empty. No need for more threats, artillery strikes, or turning heads in Washington or Brussels.

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Written by Justin Vela

February 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Syria’s Al Qaeda-linked militants gain hearts by providing food // The National…

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Published by The National on February 13, 2013

ISTANBUL // With little international aid reaching Syria’s besieged population, Islamist militants such as the Al Qaeda-linked group Jabhat Al Nusra are building support by providing food and other items in scant supply after two years of civil war.

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Written by Justin Vela

February 13, 2013 at 9:19 am

Syrian rebels open US lobbying agency // The National…

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Published by The National on February 7, 2013

WASHINGTON // Brian Sayers is a former Nato political officer lobbying in the corridors of Washington on behalf of Syrian rebels fighting the regime of Bashar Al Assad, the country’s president.

Not all the rebels, of course. Washington only publicly supports those rebel groups it is convinced are committed to a secular, democratic Syria.

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Written by Justin Vela

February 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

Chemical weapons and “Basma” Syria…

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Foreign Policy magazine’s Josh Rogin published a revealing scoop Tuesday regarding the United States government’s supposed “red line” with the regime of Bashar Al Assad.

Following an investigation by US diplomats in Turkey, Washington was informed that Syrian regime forces likely used a chemical weapon in the city of Homs last December.

The Obama Administration has said that the use of chemical weapons is the “red line” that it will not tolerate from the regime. If Washington knew the regime used such weapons and did not take action it is an illustration of the lack of will regarding Syria and how unclear the administration’s policies are towards the crisis. It also gives the regime the impression it can get away with more brutal tactics without serious repercussions.

The US investigation was facilitated by Basma Syria, a Syrian activist outfit. I wrote about Basma for Foreign Policy last fall. The group appears to be making use of its network of opposition activists in Syria to provide information to the US on what they think happened with the alleged attack.

So far the White House has played down the story. While it is is not clear who leaked the information it may have been someone who disagreed with the administration’s current policies toward Syria, or the lack of them.

It should also be noted that the type if weapon used in Homs has not been verified, though it appears to be  something called “Agent 15” or 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate , a low grade chemical weapon.

Written by Justin Vela

January 16, 2013 at 8:56 am