World roundup: January 7 2022
Stories from Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Russia, and more
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
Al-Monitor’s Sultan al-Kanj reports on signs of a possible Islamic State revival in eastern Syria:
Syrian journalist Zain al-Abidin, who lives in Deir ez-Zor's eastern countryside, told Al-Monitor, “IS launches almost daily operations here with explosive devices and attacks against SDF members, patrols, checkpoints and civilians suspected of cooperating with the SDF. IS also forces the local traders, investors in oil wells, livestock owners and doctors to pay it a tax, threatening to kill those who fail to pay. IS is also killing anyone practicing witchcraft or suspected of selling drugs. In the last two months of 2021, it ramped up its attacks in this region. The largest strongholds of its cells are the towns of Dhiban, al-Hawaij, al-Zar and al-Shuhail.”
Abidin noted that west of the Euphrates in Deir ez-Zor, IS attacks have become limited, well calculated and restricted to explosive devices and missile attacks that target Syrian regime positions. He added, “IS always moves in small groups, where each group has its own commander who has his own vision. The situation of IS in the [eastern] countryside of Deir ez-Zor differs from its situation in the Syrian desert where supplies and transportation are difficult. In the desert, IS relies on individuals to supply it with food or sometimes attacks shepherds to secure food.”
There are rumors that IS has appointed a new leadership group for its Syrian operations and this heightened level of activity could be part of their coming out party. But the bigger issue seems to be that neither the Syrian government nor the Syrian Democratic Forces has been able to exert control over parts of the Deir Ezzor countryside, particularly in areas where they’re trying to coexist with one another.