Over the past several weeks, there has been a constant cycle of escalation and de-escalation in Syria's southern province of Deraa, though events now have primarily become focused around Deraa al-Balad (the southern half of Deraa city). Agreements have been struck between those representing the interests of former opposition figures, insurgents and the local notables and inhabitants who lived under them (the 'Central Committee') on the one hand, and the Syrian government with Russian mediation on the other hand. These agreements though have quickly fallen apart, resulting in rounds of bombardment by Syrian government forces and armed clashes.
Amid all those details however, it is easy to fall into the trap of becoming too granular and losing sight of the big picture, as an eagerness for information runs the risk of breathlessly providing constant updates that change one's assessment. Of course, this problem is by no means confined to the current events in Deraa. The overload of information since the outset of the war in Syria has often led analysts and researchers to overuse the word 'significant' to describe events when they have not been as such, especially in hindsight. So, for anyone interested in the present situation in Deraa, it helps to pose the following 'back-to-basics' questions. First, who are the main actors and what are their motivations and interests? Second, what is the general trend of events on the ground? Third, does this situation have any meaning for the assessment of the wider conflict in Syria?
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