3 min read  | Politics, Reports

Syria Direct: News Update 5-21-2014


May 21, 2014

NDF, Kurdish forces spar in Hasaka

Four fighters from Kurdish militias and seven from the pro-Assad National Defense Forces (NDF) were killed Tuesday and Wednesday during a rare conflagration between NDF and Kurdish fighters in Syria’s northeastern al-Hasaka province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A pro-Assad journalist based in al-Hasaka told Syria Direct that the clashes broke out after Kurdish militias, including the People’s Protection Units (YPG), opened fire on NDF. Members of the pro-Assad militia were preparing to install a tent advertising “the constitutional worthiness of the Syrian presidency” near a water management center in the eastern Hasaka neighborhood of al-Aziziya.

Embedded image permalinkKurdish and NDF fighters clash in Hasaka Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Hawar News.

Kurdish fighters believed the NDF was preparing to erect a security checkpoint, said journalist Attiyeh al-Attiyeh. The Kurds “opened fire on [the NDF], and the NDF responded to the gunshots,” he said. The Observatory reported that Kurdish fighters had taken control of the water management center on Tuesday, forcing the NDF to withdraw.

The episode is an atypical flare-up between Kurdish and pro-Assad fighters in northern Syria, where Kurds have achieved a large measure of autonomy particularly in al-Hasaka, and both parties are seeking to defeat ISIS.

Jabhat a-Nusra rejects ‘Revolutionary Covenant’

Jabhat a-Nusra released a detailed statement Tuesday rejecting the “Revolutionary Covenant” signed by five Islamist coalitions Saturday and chastising the signatories for having failed to consult a-Nusra on the document. “We all know that the greatest problem facing jihad in Syria is the absence of shura [consultation] and the individualization of decision making,” reads the document. A-Nusra critiques the Covenant as “unclear and undisciplined,” and rejects the notion of any “civil or democratic state” not founded on Islamic law.

Five powerful Islamist coalitions—among them the Islamic Front and Jaysh al-Mujahideen—signed on to the Revolutionary Covenant on Saturday, affirming their commitment to a pluralistic but unified Syria that protects human rights.

A-Nusra’s denunciation coincided with a televised defense of the Covenant by Islamic Front political chief Hassan Aboud. “When we issued this covenant we did not seek the contentment of others or seek to get weapons or support,” says Abboud, responding to accusations that the covenant came in response to external pressures.

The Syrian National Coalition, meanwhile, declared its support for the Covenant, and called for “other factions to the sign the covenant and abide by its principles to achieve the objectives of the revolution.”

KAF: Syrian refugees net negative for Jordan

The Syrian refugee presence has had a net negative effect on Jordan’s economy, according to a detailed report published on Tuesday by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Amman office. The report examines the socioeconomic implications of more than 590,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, concluding: “The burdens on the macroeconomic and microeconomic levels have outweighed all benefits enjoyed by the economy during the period 2012-2014,” the study finds.

Looking at aggregate benefits and costs of the Syrian presence in Jordan, the study shows that the losses for Jordan’s economy for the period 2012-2013 constitute more than 1.7 billion Jordanian dinars ($2.40 billion).

More than 50 percent live of Syrian refugees live in the northern cities of Mafraq and Irbid, the report states.

The study also raises grave concerns over pollution of the water basin underneath Zaatari camp and recommends “moving the camp” by the end of June 2014. Not doing so would be devastating for the environment and the people, “an outcome Jordan cannot afford,” according to the report.

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