2019 Global Outlook: The Fertile Crescent
The single most important development in the Middle East has been the end of Syria’s civil war, which was unequivocally won by the Baath regime. Even the hammer blows of a determined religious opposition could not destroy the post-World War I system that created Syria, Iraq and Jordan as Arab states. But with the announced U.S. withdrawal from Syria and the victory of the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian sponsors, the way could be cleared for an explosive confrontation with Israel.
The many faces of ISIS
If we want to know what will happen to Islamic State (ISIS) after the death of its first “caliph” and the loss of Mosul and Raqqa, we must first understand what it is. There is not one ISIS, but at least four. Each will require different handling once the caliphate is shattered and scatters.
After Mosul and Raqqa, risks multiply
As the battle for Mosul concludes, the battle for Raqqa is entering its initial phase. From a military perspective, the fall of these twin bastions of Daesh was never in doubt. But tactical victories can only be turned into long-term strategic gains if a political process is put in place. Otherwise, we will see a “son of Daesh” and worse in Syria and Iraq.
Global Outlook 2017: U.S. faces vexing challenges in South Asia
The Trump administration will face major challenges in South Asia in 2017. The Taliban is likely to begin conducting major attacks, potentially making significant territorial gains. Also, India-Pakistan tensions continue to simmer; another terrorist attack could lead to a full-blown conflict. Up to now, President Trump has not made South Asia a foreign policy focus – but that may change quickly.
Global Outlook 2017: Iran, Daesh and the Arab wars
An arrangement between the U.S. and Russia on the Middle East seems to be the last hope for keeping the region from descending into a large-scale conflict. The two powers will have to find common ground on two main challenges: Daesh and Iran. But even under the best of circumstances, stamping out jihadist terrorism groups is a task that cannot be completed this year.
Northern Syria after Turkish intervention
Turkey’s decision to intervene in Syria has demolished U.S. plans to press home the ground war against Daesh. Ankara must now decide whether to respect an American-sponsored cease-fire or venture deeper into Syria to break up the emerging Kurdish autonomous zone. If they choose the latter course, as seems likely, the Turks could find themselves in a military quagmire.
Daesh is an armed coalition, not a terrorist organization
The popular perception of Daesh – also known as Islamic State or IS – as a terrorist organization is as inaccurate as it is dangerous. Daesh is essentially a military force that uses the desert to its advantage, employing terrorist operations where useful. The misconception is dangerous because it leads decision makers to implement bad policy and distracts from the cool-headed analysis needed to defeat the force.
As Kurdish influence grows, statehood is still distant
War and chaos in Syria and Iraq have catapulted the Kurdish minorities in those countries into a position of unprecedented influence and even military power. Turkey is meanwhile waging a counterinsurgency campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the country’s southeast, while Iran’s relations with the Kurds and other national minorities remain tense. ...
Global trends: players and paths for Islamic State (part 2)
As Islamic State begins to lose ground in Syria and Iraq, regional and global powers are trying to carve out their own spheres of influence. The struggle is less military than political, and will hinge on negotiations to establish workable solutions, federal and otherwise, in both countries. But managing the endgame over the next 12-18 months will be tricky, and er...
Turkey and Russia: a slow-fuse time bomb in the Middle East
The war for public opinion over the Middle East is heating up between Moscow and Ankara. Since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on its border with Syria in late November, the recriminations have been flying. Each of these powers is accusing the other of playing Daesh’s game, one by supporting the moderate opposition, the other by propping up Syrian President Bas...