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Entries in Brown Moses (3)


Syria Analysis: Dissecting the "Iran Arms to Damascus" Video & Narrative

This episode points to both the potential and the risks of drawing open-source intelligence from videos. Clips such as these can give clues to political and military developments, but those clues can be diversionary or misleading --- if the aim is to provide "truth", rather than spin or wishful thinking --- without contexts.

Contexts in this case would include the relationship between Hezbollah and Iran as well as between the Lebanese organisation and Damascus, the state of the conflict in Damascus Province, and the interests of the insurgents who have put out the video.

And there are wider contexts beyond this. The supply of arms by Iran and Hezbollah to Syrian forces is not one-sided. It takes place in a larger arena in which the "West", Turkey, and Arab States provide their own weaponry to the insurgency.

None of this is to deny the need to assess this video. It is an argument to assess it properly.

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Syria Analysis: How The Media is Expanding the Simplistic Narrative of "Al Qa'eda"

Video Showing Execution In Raqqa Last Week

Scott Lucas and Joanna Paraszczuk write:

For weeks, we have noted how the media and "experts" have used one paragraph from the statement of a leader of the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra --- ripping it out of context of the rest of the statement, let alone developments on the ground or an understanding of the Syria conflict --- reducing the group with the simplistic tag of "Al Qa'eda-linked" or "Al Qa'eda affiliate".

For weeks, we have tried to knock down that too-easy and misleading narrative, offering a full translation of Jabhat al-Nusra's statement and evaluating the complex political and social situation in Syria, especially in the north, and discussing how the media has created a misleading myth of "Al Qaeda" that precludes any deeper understanding of the nuanced reality on the ground in Syria and elsewhere.

However, the simplistic story that Al Qa'eda is "taking over Jabhat al-Nusra" persists.

Indeed, for some journalists, that easy narrative is no longer enough.

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Syria Analysis: A New Insurgent Alliance --- With New Weapons --- Is Changing the War 

Rebel fighters gather men and firepower, including a Yugoslavian M-60 recoilless rifle, to attack the Hamidiyah base near Ma'arrat al Nouman.

Yesterday's dramatic news was the insurgency['s capture of an airbase, complete with working fighter jets, in Aleppo Province and the assault against the largest Assad base in the north, near Aleppo International Airport.

This surge is at least partially the result of new weapons and new organisation of insurgency groups in Daraa and Damascus, with ample evidence that the boost in arms is courtesy of foreign powers.

Now a new piece of evidence bolsters the assessment that these weapons are coming from outside Syria, and also gives insight into the modified organisation of insurgent groups. Eliot Higgins presents this video:

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