Syria Civil War
UN peace conference for Syria: too late
Europe and the United States took a moralistic stand on Syria’s civil war, demanding that Bashar al-Assad must go. This created an opening for Russia: because of its military intervention, the dictator remains firmly in place, the humanitarian tragedy is deepening and chances for a negotiated settlement seem largely lost.
The contours of a future Middle East emerge
Events are moving fast in the Middle East. The hoped-for rapprochement between Russia and the U.S. that could bring an end to the war in Syria appears to have collapsed. Growing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia could spark a war at any moment. But the most explosive issue for this region of minorities is the prospect of independence for Iraqi Kurdistan.
GIS Dossier: Europe’s migration impasse
The steady flow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa suddenly exploded in 2015 into the greatest crisis of its kind in Europe since World War II. How this happened and what the EU and national governments ought to do about it is examined in this survey of work by GIS experts.
GIS Dossier: Iran’s rise
Iran has methodically built up its influence in the Middle East to become one of the most important powers in the region. It has a growing foothold in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Qatar. Its rise has inflamed tensions with Saudi Arabia, while a nascent rapprochement with the U.S. has withered under President Donald Trump. It is stepping up military interventions abroad, but remains deeply divided at home. This edition of our Dossier series reviews how Iran got here and our experts’ predictions about what this means for the region and the world.
Iranians at odds as succession looms
Hassan Rouhani’s reelection as Iran’s president was greeted with euphoria by his reform-minded supporters, but has only sharpened divisions in a deeply polarized country. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei may be frail and ailing, but he still dominates the Islamic Republic, and his conservative supporters are well-positioned to steer any succession. The new U.S. administration’s attempts to isolate Iran will only strengthen them.
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.
Erdogan’s ‘new Turkey’ resembles an old stereotype
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now unleashed, having consolidated full power over Turkey’s ruling party, parliament and the judiciary. After sweeping away the remnants of democracy and the Kemalist state, he has reached the point of no return. Which raises a simple question: what happened to the “new Turkey” – the assertive, prosperous Islamic powerhouse – that he promised?
America edges back into the Middle East
The United States is cautiously reengaging in the Middle East. To deal with an explosive situation that threatens world peace, President Donald Trump must first tackle the legacy of the Obama years, which left Russia and Iran well entrenched in some of the region's Arab countries. Forcing them out may not be possible, but the U.S. could restore some equilibrium.
Opinion: The United Nations – missing in action
Dag Hammarskjold was one of the great secretary generals of the United Nations. The Swedish economist-turned-diplomat died in a plane crash in 1961, while trying to negotiate a ceasefire in the Congo. More than half a century later, his courage is missed. Is there any way for Hammarskjold's successors to reconnect the UN with its mission?
The rise of mercenaries in Russian military operations
It is common for global powers to use private military contractors when they do not want their own armed forces to get involved in dirty work. However, Russia’s increasing use of them in places like Ukraine and Syria – where they have taken on major operations – signals the Kremlin’s expectation that it will expand its use of force around the world.