Syria Approves Medical Deliveries to Aleppo and Two Other Areas

The government will allow deliveries into Aleppo, as early as next week, as well as the besieged Damascus neighborhood of Mouadamiya and suburb of Eastern Ghouta.

Syrian boys play in the ruins of a destroyed building in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on November 18, 2014. Aleppo has been divided between government control in the west, and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting began in 2012. AFP PHOTO/ BARAA AL-HALABI (Photo credit should read BARAA AL-HALABI/AFP/Getty Images)

The World Health Organization reported the Syrian government has approved the delivery of medical and surgical supplies to three areas of Syria that have been hard for aid workers to access. The government will allow deliveries into Aleppo, as early as next week, as well as the besieged Damascus neighborhood of Mouadamiya and suburb of Eastern Ghouta. According to the United Nations, 4.7 million Syrians live in areas that are difficult for aid workers to reach, including an estimated 241,000 people in districts besieged by government or opposition forces. Meanwhile, the United Nations’ training and research arm (UNITAR) reported satellite images indicate that 290 cultural heritage sites in Syria have been damaged by the country’s civil war, including 24 sites that have been completely destroyed. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported U.S.-led strikes in Syria over the past three months have killed at least 1,171 people. Most of those killed were Islamic State militants, though the group reported 52 were civilians.


  • The head of Tunisia’s election commission confirmed Beji Caid Essebsi won Tunisia’s first free presidential election securing 55.68 percent of the run-off vote.
  • Qatar has suspended Al Jazeera Live Egypt, which has been critical of Egypt’s military-led government, as Doha and Cairo work to repair relations.
  • Crude oil prices dropped again Monday, after a one-day gain, following comments from OPEC members that they would not cut production.
  • Fighting between rival governments in Libya has spread near a third oil and gas port, Mellitah, halting exports to Italy.
  • Five bombs exploded in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, in the old quarter where many Houthi supporters reside, early Tuesday killing at least one person.
  • The Algerian military reported it has killed three militants, including Abdelmalek Gouri, who claimed responsibility for the beheading of French hiker Herve Gourdel in September.

Arguments and Analysis

Requiem for Tunisia’s Revolution?’ (Corinna Mullin and Brahim Rouabah, Jadaliyya)

“Such analysis bestows praise on the country for finally submitting to a Western-embedded teleological vision of progress, including the development of a free market, democratic institutions, and various rational-bureaucratic processes. In their elite focus, reductionist analyses tend to overlook the importance to Tunisia’s transformation of popular mobilization, and of the radicalism that was necessary to suspend (even if momentarily) ‘awe of the state’ in order to imagine and attempt to construct an alternative order. They also conveniently ignore the past role external powers played, the West in particular, in propping up the Ben Ali regime through arms sales, trade, aid and military support, and through obscure new forms of intervention transnational and multilateral institutions practiced. External pressure to liberalize, deregulate, and make Tunisia more ‘business friendly’ to foreign investors had made the Ben Ali regime not more but less accountable.

In addition, by overlooking similarities between the form and content of the Tunisian uprising and those of other recent mass mobilizations across the world, these recent analyses also reinforce orientalism’s geographic violence. Although it would be impossible (and unwise) to explain the Tunisian uprising through any one analytical lens, there were certainly facets of the uprising that sit as comfortably alongside the Indignados in Spain, the Occupy movement in the United States, and the Syntagma Square protests in Greece as with the Syrian and Egyptian experiences. Protesters in all of these contexts similarly challenged the (often externally mandated) neoliberal policies that had contributed within their societies to a retraction of the state, deregulation, reduced social spending, high unemployment, entrenched inequality, and increasingly repressive national security policies.”

Egypt is open for business, but not for reform’ (Michele Dunne, The Washington Post)

“Egypt is not North Korea, but my deportation is just the latest and least important of many steps toward an authoritarianism much nastier than that of the Mubarak era. I am safely at home, but there are an increasing number of Egyptian rights activists, journalists and politicians who have been forced into exile in the past several months and may never be able to return, not to mention thousands of political detainees in Egypt.”

Israeli High Court and Knesset Battle Over Human Rights for African Migrants’ (Heather Hartlaub, Muftah)

“But, on Thursday, December 18, the High Court issued a temporary injunction preventing officials from imposing new rules for African migrants. The ruling came as a result of a detailed legal petition submitted by an Israeli human rights group, stating that the new amendment was nearly identical to the old one. As a part of this ruling, High Court Justice Yoram Danziger ordered that the transfer of African migrants to Holot immediately cease.

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants filed the petition, which states that the latest amendment to the Infiltration Law is ‘practically identical structurally and conceptually to the previous amendment which was struck down by the High Court.’ The group also stated that the new version continues to be ‘unconstitutional.’ ‘They are not conducting a dialogue with the judicial branch, but rather a fist fight, in which anything goes,’ the organization wrote.”

Mary Casey-Baker


<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary