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Conflict

After Nine Years, Syria’s Conflict Has Only Become More Complicated

Image courtesy of Jodi Eastham/DVIDS.

This article was originally published by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on 12 March 2020.

The engagement of external actors has protracted the conflict and Syrians civilians continue to bear the brunt.


In March 2011, as the Arab world was roiled by demonstrations, protests broke out in Syria to demand political reform after four decades of Assad rule. Nine years later, the Assad regime is on the offensive against the last rebel stronghold of Idlib, with Russia, Turkey and Iran all heavily invested in the conflict. The humanitarian consequences for Syrians cannot be overstated and a political solution to the conflict seems as distant as ever. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian discusses the dreadful toll on the Syrian population and what the battle for Idlib means for the trajectory of the conflict.

Categories
Conflict

Three Conflict Scenarios for the Black Sea in 2020

Image courtesy of Leewarrior/Pixabay

This article was originally published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) on 7 January 2020.

What happens in the Black Sea does not stay in the Black Sea. The region’s status as a crossroad linking Europe, Asia, and the Middle East is its most important advantage—and its greatest risk. It is the region with the highest density of protracted conflicts. Civil wars causing major migration flows are occurring at its doorstep. Disruptive security challenges in the Black Sea ripple immediately into Europe’s core, Russia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. Security and stability in the Black Sea are crucial for the Balkans, Russia, the Levant, and Central Asia.

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Conflict

Explaining Turkey’s Cross-Border Operation into Syria

Image courtesy of Arnada Jones/DVIDS

This publication was originally published by Political Violence @ a Glance on 16 October 2019.

The Turkish incursion into northern Syria has revealed a central truth in international affairs: that the future of military interventions will not be Vietnam-style imbroglios or long wars of attrition. They will be mostly one-off cross-border incursions of limited lifespans, casualties, or attention (though, contrary to many recent cross-border operations, Turkey’s latest incursion has attracted a lot of attention). The terrain will be difficult and rural; the level of governance minimal.

Categories
Conflict

Who Gains from Trump’s Sudden Syrian Withdrawal?

Image courtesy of Kurdishstruggle/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the ASPI’s The Strategist on 16 October 2019.

President Donald Trump has upended American policy in Syria, and possibly in the entire Middle East, in one stroke. His unilateral decision to withdraw American troops from the Kurdish region of northern Syria, and thus give a green light for the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish enclave, has put all American goals in Syria in grave jeopardy. These included protecting the autonomous Kurdish enclave as a quid pro quo for the Kurdish militia’s singular military contribution in liquidating Islamic State and capturing its capital Raqqa at the cost of thousands of lives. They also included preventing the regime of Bashar al-Assad from reasserting control in northern Syria (a very important US objective in Syria was to circumscribe Russia’s and Iran’s reach and influence in the country). Finally, one of the principal aims of American policy in both Syria and Iraq has been to prevent the resurgence of the IS.

Categories
International Relations Foreign policy

Hegemonic Designs in the Middle East Clash

Image courtesy of Kremlin.ru. (CC BY 4.0)

This article was originally published by YaleGlobal Online on 17 April 2018.

The Iran-Russia-Turkey nexus could be potent, but suffers from clashing strategic goals and internal contradictions

Western media are preoccupied by limited airstrikes from the United States, Britain and France in the Damascus area, in response to a chemical attack, as well as Russia’s “hybrid warfare” strategy against the West. Amidst many distractions, Vladimir Putin’s own fixation with his country’s emergence as a major player in the Middle East and its implications for regional stability do not receive ample attention. Russia is striving to increase its strategic visibility and sphere of influence in the Middle East, and US President Donald Trump, by pursuing his transactional foreign policy, is unwittingly presiding over the demise of traditional US strategic dominance in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.