Most of Syria’s large rebel groups have explicitly distanced themselves from the Geneva talks.
A recent statement authored by a self-described “group of sons of the Muslim Brotherhood” criticizes the organization's leadership handling of politics over the past three years, revealing real grievances
President Bashar al-Assad sent a delegation to Geneva II composed largely of veteran diplomats, politicians, and media specialists. According to the Syrian president, they are going to the talks in order to discuss the best way to “fight terrorism” in Syria.
Much hinges on how Russia and Iran are approached by the Friends of Syria group, which will have to rethink their approach to opposition representation at negotiations and, more importantly, how a transitional process in Syria will unfold in practice.
The United States and Russia should present Syrians of all persuasions with a practical template against which to measure both the regime’s and the opposition’s willingness to find a genuine political solution.
The United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria had a weak mandate, followed passive rules of engagement, and operated within a political six-point plan that was challenging to translate to field realities.
Syrian Kurds fear that the Kurdish issue will be ignored in the Geneva II Syrian peace conference, despite the fact that Kurds control a significant part of northern Syria, including many oil-producing areas.
The Islamic Front argues for social and educational work to help develop the public’s Islamic consciousness, but it rejects the idea that Syrians could ever be allowed to vote on whether to have sharia law, or Islamic law, or to what degree.
On political matters, just as in religious affairs, the Islamic Front has staked out a hawkish position. Its officials say that they are firmly opposed to any peace deal with the regime and seem unwilling to hold talks even on minor matters.
Any attempt to describe the Islamic Front’s ideology is complicated by the fact that even some of its members seem puzzled by it. The member factions still serve under different leaderships, and there is no guarantee that they will be able to coordinate their policies or keep disagreements under control.
As soon as it announced its formation on November 22, 2013, it was clear that the Islamic Front would be a powerful influence on Syria’s future and a key actor in the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Baath Battalions, a militia controlled by the ruling Baath Arab Socialist Party, has started to show up at government checkpoints and roadblocks in Damascus, with aims to support the Syrian Arab Army and the security services.
While the Islamic legitimacy of the armed opposition to the Syrian regime remains uncontested among the Salafi-jihadi radicals, the decisive, dividing concern is simple: Which jihadi faction should the Egyptian Salafi-jihadi movement support?
Syria is developing a “war economy” as individuals and networks seek to exploit the opportunities of conflict
The Islamic Front contains some of Syria’s most powerful rebel groups, particularly in the now-contested northern areas, and its position will matter for the outcome of the fighting between rival rebel groups.
The violence that erupted on January 3 was preceded by several months of rapidly worsening relations between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the rebel mainstream. Two newly formed northern coalitions have led the charge against the ISIL, the Syria Revolutionaries’ Front (SRF) and the Mujahideen Army.
The fighting that erupted on January 3 has been driven the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from several of its strongholds in northern Syria by rival rebel factions.
The Tawhid Brigade is one of Syria’s largest armed rebel groups fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and dominating much of the insurgency around Aleppo.
Many Lebanese Alawites do not seem particularly keen on being associated with their co-religionists in Syria, and they are especially wary of being linked to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Arab Democratic Party (ADP) has long been the representative of Lebanon’s tiny Alawite community. Its long-standing alliance with the Assad regime has ensured its political and paramilitary hegemony over Lebanon’s Alawites. But new Alawite voices are emerging that are more critical of the Assad regime and of the ADP.