Syria Civil War
The perpetual war
The truce brokered by Turkey and Russia in northwestern Syria has prevented a slaughter of the remnants of the Syrian opposition forces and scores of hapless civilians. This highlights the pragmatic attitudes of the two powers that have assumed key roles in the Syria conflict. The danger of a larger war remains, however, as long as Iran’s designs in Syria threaten Israel.
Iran and Israel’s proxy war in Syria escalates
The accidental downing of a Russian military plane by Syrian anti-missile defense, which coincided with Israeli air force jets’ presence in the area, highlights the danger of the increasingly open proxy warfare between Israel and Iran. The number of parties involved – Israel, Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah – points to the risk of the drawn-out Syrian conflict exploding into full-fledged regional war.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player – the Middle East and North Africa
Europe’s influence as a great power is nowhere more apparent than in the attraction it exerts on the poorer countries to its south – in the Middle East and Northern Africa. This is the region where European Union member states, often without U.S. support, have deployed their full foreign-policy arsenal, from diplomacy and military intervention to financial aid and investment, with mixed success. Yet as migration and terror show, problems the EU fails to address “out there” tend to wind up on its doorstep.
Russian airpower on trial
Russia’s air force has come a long way from its inept performance during the 2008 war with Georgia. In terms of command and control, logistics and sortie rates during its expeditionary campaign in Syria, it has far surpassed expectations. But that still tells us very little about how it would stack up against a more sophisticated enemy, and especially against the U.S. Air Force.
Iran and the U.S. play nuclear poker in the Middle East
After President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, tensions between Tehran and Washington have ratcheted up significantly. A tangled web of conflicts in the region complicates the issue, while the dispute will weigh heavily on Iran’s domestic politics, which are already under their greatest strain in nearly 30 years. Military action would lead to an unpredictable chain reaction throughout the region, but negotiations could end up defusing several conflicts at once.
GIS Dossier: Saudi Arabia’s transforming role
Over the past five years, Saudi Arabia has had to make some big adjustments, as geopolitical shifts have put it in a precarious position. After the oil price slump of 2014 and Iran’s rise to regional prominence in 2015, the kingdom made strategic changes both at home and abroad. It decided to make a stand against Iranian attempts to forge a Shia crescent and moved to diversify its economy. This dossier reviews our analysts’ predictions for how successful these moves will be.
Lebanon’s condition moves toward critical
Lebanon today is the world’s only country that has two armies and two governments in peacetime. Its shadow government wields more power than the official one, while its economy, politics, military, soil, water and even the air is toxic. Interference from its neighbors has negated any chance of pulling the country back together.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have diverging goals in Yemen
The United Arab Emirates is part of a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis in Yemen. But recently, it has become clear that Abu Dhabi’s and Riyadh’s goals are diverging. While both the Emiratis and Saudis want to roll back Iran’s growing influence in the region, the UAE wants to divide Yemen, so it can gain more control around critical access points to the Red Sea. The tensions that will arise will further complicate the Yemen conflict.
GIS Dossier: Turkey and the Middle East
Ankara is still groping for the right policy mix in dealing with complex challenges to Turkey’s vital interests in the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region. A paradigm change, however, diverting its geopolitical attention away from Europe and NATO and toward its historic neighborhood, is already evident.