Weekly Round Up 18th June – 24th June

daraa1
Map of Daraa, southern Syria. Red: Government Forces. Green: Rebel held. White: Jordan.

Push to the Border

Who?
Syrian Armed Forces

What?
Assault on Rebel groups

Where?
near Daraa, Southern Syria

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?
The latest offensive by the Syrian Armed Forces to reassert control over parts of the beleaguered country comes as a violation of the de-escalation zones part of a cease fire agreement reached by the United States and Russia in July 2017.
Syrian President Bashar Al-assad has long stated his intent to reclaim the southern region of Syria right up to the border with Jordan and the Golan heights currently held by Israel.
In a previous offensive of this sort, the Syrian Army has enjoyed much needed air support from the Russian Air Force, as seen in East Ghouta earlier this year. It is yet unclear whether or not the Russian Air Force will support this newest campaign, although one source claims that a Russian air strike occurred early on June 24 in one of the rebel held towns near Daraa.
Should this latest offensive prove successful, it could very well be a mile stone in the 7 year old conflict. The only rebel held areas that would remain are an eastern pocket on the border with Iraq and Jordan, Idlib Province in north west Syria, Efrin (aka Afrin) Province which was the focus of the Turkish Operation “Olive Branch”, as well as much of north eastern Syria which is held by Kurdish groups. The situation in northern Syria remains tense as Russia, the al-Assad Government, the United States and Turkey all hold interests there.

Please find below a very useful live map of the situation in Syria:
Syria Live Map

Full Articles:
Al-Jazeera

Reuters

Reuters

RadioLibery/RadioFreeEurope

highway-lights-at-night_925x

Freedom behind the Wheel

Who?
House of Saud

What?
Lifts driving ban for Women

Where?
Saudi Arabia

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?
First announced in late September 2017, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the last nation to allow women to drive automobiles. Although this might seem like a step towards liberalization and reform, this move seems somewhat out of character for the deeply patriarchal and conservative Arab nation. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the real aim of lifting the driving ban is to stimulate the economy and include women in the workforce. Despite the fact that women will be able to apply for drivers licenses on their own, the strict guardianship laws that regulate almost every facet of the lives of Saudi women remain in effect.

Full Articles:
Al-Jazeera

New York Times

The National (UAE)

Bomb-blast-addis-ababa
Image from ezega.com

Ethiopian Unrest

Who?
Unnamed Assailant

What?
Grenade attack

Where?
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?
In an attempt to kill supporters of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, a grande was thrown at a rally in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa. The attack killed at least two and wounded 150 others. Abiy is considered a radical reformist for the east African country. If successful, under Abiy’s leadership, Ethiopia will finally ratify the 2000 peace deal with it’s neighbor Eritrea. Many, especially the veterans of the two year Eritrean war, are unhappy at this prospect.
Abiy condemned the unsuccessful attack as an attempt to hinder the peace process. Although Ethiopia is making big steps to leave the recent era of instability behind, it is not yet out of the woods. This situation merits further observation as Abiy’s leadership continues.

Full Articles:
Al-Jazeera

Reuters

Stratfor

***

Full List of Resources Used:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/syrian-offensive-displaces-thousands-rebel-held-deraa-180621141452456.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria/syrian-army-drops-barrel-bombs-in-southwest-assault-monitor-rebel-idUSKBN1JI13X?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria/assad-defies-united-states-presses-assault-in-southwest-syria-idUSKBN1JI13X?

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-jets-syria-daraa-deescalation-zones-assad/29315630.html

https://syria.liveuamap.com/

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/saudi-arabia-lift-driving-ban-women-180621203632446.html

https://www.thenational.ae/world/gcc/saudi-arabia-lifts-ban-on-women-drivers-live-updates-1.743315

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/ethiopia-grenade-attack-pm-rally-180623172759094.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-politics/blast-at-addis-ababa-rally-for-new-ethiopian-prime-minister-reuters-witness-idUSKBN1JJ050?

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/ethiopia-can-landlocked-power-restore-its-former-glory

https://www.ezega.com/News/NewsDetails/6400/Bomb-Blast-Injures-Dozens-in-Addis-Ababa-Rally-Nine-Officials-Detained

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