Tagged: Syria

Impressive Footage from Aleppo

Aleppo 2

This is a link to a video recorded by a drone flying over Aleppo, Syria.

After 6 years of conflict, the scale of the destruction is simply stunning.

Click here to watch the video


Video: Syria Stories of Life and Hope

Here is the video of my presentation at the event “Syria Stories of Life and Hope” organized by Agape Caritas in London last 27th June.

In my presentation, I manly discuss three aspects of the Syrian crisis:

  1. the role of religious and ethnic affiliations in shaping the conflict
  2. the initial events that started the uprising in 2011 and the current situation
  3. the obstacles to a successful outcome of the repeated diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the crisis

The videos of the other presentations are also available on YouTube. I strongly recommend to watch them!

Syrian Stories of Life and Hope

Next Monday June 27th, I will be among a number of people participating in the event Syrian Stories of Life and Hope at the May Fair Hotel in the hearth of London.

Along with journalists, photographers, and activists, I will deliver a presentation on the five-years long crisis in Syria.

My contribution is titled how did we get here? and in it I will try to provide the factual evidence necessary to understand the current crisis: How did it start? Who are the major parties to the conflict? What are the main obstacles to a diplomatic solution?

Click on the link below to read the whole program and description of the event.



My Book is Finally Out

Check my new book out New Beginning in US-Muslim Relations: President Obama and the Arab Awakening at Palgrave Macmillan official website.

Short description:

This book carries out a comparative study of the US response to popular uprisings in the Middle East as an evaluation of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy commitments. In 2009, Obama publicly pledged “a new beginning in US-Muslim relations,” causing eager expectation of a clear shift in US foreign policy after the election of the 44th president of the United States. However, the achievement of such a shift was made particularly difficult by the existence of multiple, and sometimes conflicting, US interests in the region which influenced the Obama administration’s response to the popular uprisings in five Muslim-majority countries: Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. After providing a detailed analysis of the traditional features of both US foreign policy rhetoric and practice, this book turns its focus to the Obama administration’s response to the 2011 Arab Awakening to determine whether Obama’s foreign policy has indeed brought about a new beginning in US-Muslim relations.

Enjoy your reading!

My Comments on Al Jazeera about the Syrian Crisis after the Paris Terrorist Attacks

Here is the full video of my participation to Al Jazeera Inside Story.

This is a 20 minute video that includes discussion on the French goverment response to the Paris attacks, European broader counterterrorism efforts, and the G20 in Turkey.

Follow me on Twitter @eugeniolilli



Benefits and disadvantages of Russia’s intervention in Syria


1)Prestige. Russia intervention in Syria can be seen as an attempt to restore Russia’s international status as a great power. By getting militarily involved in the Syrian conflict Russia is likely to have a say in any negotiation aimed at solving the crisis. Shoring up a friendly Syrian regime will also allow Russia to maintain its military base in Syria (the only one the Russians have in the ME) and have a say in any future talk about ending the Arab-Israeli conflict (Syria has not technically ended its state of war with Israel).

2)Distraction. The Russian economy is not doing well mainly because of the combined effects of international sanctions and falling oil prices. Putin needs military interventions abroad to distract Russian public opinion and shore up his power domestically.

3)By showing resolve Putin is trying to embarass his american counterpart, President Obama.


1)Putin involved Russia in what might be an unwinnable conflict.

2)Potential terrorist blowback. By openly siding with the Syrian regime Russia has increasingly become a legit target for Islamic extremists.

3)Potential for an incident involving Russian and US-led coalition forces. If not handled carefully such an incident could have extremely serious consequences.

4)Sunni Arab backlash. Russia’s support for Assad’s Alawite regime has upset many Sunni Arab countries, especially the energy producing countries of the Gulf.

Follow me on Twitter @EugenioLilli

Declassified US Documents Shed Light on the Syria/Iraq Crisis

Last May the organization Judicial Watch obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit a cache of US government’s declassified documents.

Two documents in particular struck my attention.

One is a document produced by the Pentagon. This document shows that by October 2012 the Obama administration was aware that arms from Libya were being shipped to the opposition in Syria. In particular,

Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125 mm and 155mm howitzers missiles.

During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the ((Qaddafi)) regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.25.13 PM(click on the picture to go to the full document)

The second document is by the Defense Intelligence Agency. It reveals two important facts.

One is that by August 2012 the Obama administration was aware that Al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist groups were leading the Syrian uprising. An uprising publicly supported by the West and its regional allies.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.37.48 PM(click on the picture to go to the full document)

Another is that the Obama administration (and other foreign backers of the Syrian opposition) foresaw the possibility of the establishment of a Salafist principality astride Syria and Iraq and actually welcomed such a development as a counterweight to President Assad forces in Syria. This was in August 2012, that is two years before the Islamic State came into being!

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.41.55 PM(click on the picture to go to the full document)

I believe that these declassified documents should make people rethink what they thought they knew about US involvement in the Syria and Iraq crises.

Follow me on Twitter @Eugeniolilli