Sunday, January 17, 2016

Very insightful piece about Samir Quntar and the Golan Druze by Nour Samaha, I am briefly cited as well.

Blurred Future
by Nour Samaha, Newsweek Middle East

(...) Who was Kantar and What Was He Doing in Syria?
At the age of 16, Kantar, a Lebanese Druze, was sentenced by an Israeli court to five life terms plus 47 years for his role in a 1979 military operation in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. He was eventually released in a prisoner exchange deal between Hezbollah and Israel in 2008.  He joined Hezbollah’s ranks soon after.
Following the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, Kantar was tasked with heading up the Popular Syrian Resistance (PSR), an obscure group that was created in 2013.
Backed by the Syrian government, and supervised and equipped by Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the PSR’s aim was to recruit local Syrians from the southern Quneitra province, near the Golan Heights. The recruits were tasked with carrying out operations against Israeli targets inside the Golan—part of a wider front stretching from Naqoura on Lebanon’s southern coast to the furthest point on the Syrian southern border—alongside Hezbollah and its allies in the war against Israel. (...)
Kantar was a key commander in the PSR, recruiting and training fighters, most of whom were Druze from the Golan area. Enough of a reason for Israel to assassinate him according to Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Israel’s Golan Heights Project (...)
“The majority of residents say they are Syrians and under occupation,” said Tobias Lang, an expert and researcher on minorities in the Middle East with a special focus on the Druze community. “But among the younger Druze, who don’t have direct contact with Syria, it may be different.” (...)
“Since late 2013, Israel has allocated millions of dollars to the Golan infrastructure,” said Lang. “Before that it was provided by the locals themselves, but now the Israelis are investing and it is clear they want to bring the Golan into the fold.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I was quoted by Laure Stephan in Le Monde regarding the assassination of Samir Quntar:

La mort en Syrie d’un symbole du Hezbollah
Par Laure Stephan, Le Monde

(...) Avec l’entrée du Hezbollah en Syrie – officiellement, à partir de 2013 – aux côtés du régime, Samir Kantar fait de nouveau parler de lui. Selon une source druze syrienne proche de l’opposition, il sillonne les villages druzes de la région de Kuneitra et du mont Hermon pour y recruter des combattants pro-Assad et jouit d’un « pouvoir de décision ». Les miliciens participent à des attaques contre les rebelles et les djihadistes syriens, en guerre contre le régime. Le chercheur Tobias Lang affirme que Samir Kantar recrute également des candidats pour des « activités contre Israël ». La zone constitue, pour le Hezbollah, un nouveau front potentiel avec l’Etat hébreu, moins direct que le Liban. (...)