GIS Dossier: Syria, Round 2
As Islamic State and jihadist rebels head for defeat in Syria’s civil war, the conflict is becoming more internationalized. Turkey has intervened military in the north against the Kurds, the U.S. has bombed Russian military contractors, and a rocket-propelled chess game between Israel on one side and Iran and Hezbollah on the other is heating up. If the key players aren’t careful, Round 2 in Syria could be a regional conflagration.
Turkey and the West – distant yet inseparable
Turkey’s growing estrangement from the West stems from its domestic and regional ambitions, as well as from a feeling of being unwanted in the European Union. There is also a deeper undercurrent, present since the founding of the Turkish Republic, that questions the Kemalist strategy of a radical alignment with Europe. Even so, a total break with its Western partners is not on the cards.
Opinion: The Skripal case and common sense
There has been no shortage of analysis of the Skripal case and possible Russian motivations for poisoning the former spy. They all fall flat: the Kremlin had no motive to commit such a crime. A little common sense is all one needs to conclude that whoever did wanted to escalate the conflict between Russia and the West even further.
Turkey, Iran and the potential for peace in Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted a summit in Ankara with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on April 4. The focus of the meeting was Syria. The move showed how Turkey is renewing efforts to overcome past rivalries and improve relations with its neighbors to solve one of the biggest threats to its interests. If these three regional powers can manage to use realpolitik, there may be hope for a resolution to the Syria conflict – at least in the short term.
Opinion: Russia’s possible motivations in the Skripal case
It is widely accepted that Russia was behind the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal. But the question remains why it should commit such an act, with so little to gain. Several explanations are plausible – that it was an attempt by President Vladimir Putin to show he is in control, or a gambit by his enemies to undermine him. Perhaps most worrisome, however, is the possibility that it was an escalation of Russia’s hybrid war with the West.
What will it take to tame Russia?
British Prime Minister Theresa May pointedly accused the Kremlin of attempting to assassinate a former Russian intelligence operative and his daughter in the United Kingdom. Ms. May also managed to persuade the United States and key EU countries to join in a huge retaliatory expulsion of Russian diplomats. Yet, will mere gestures deter Russia from violating the rules of international behavior? Putting real money where the West’s moralizing mouth is still looks far from certain.
The other Russia: Siberia as a model
Some call Siberia Russia's blessing, others its curse. But this vast region’s real buried riches can be found in its political culture. The Siberian values of individual freedom and political autonomy have so far not been overcome by Russia's statist centralism. Once the country's current policies run their course, this essential Russian region could replace them with its own unique democratic principles.
Kadyrov’s Chechnya poses a growing risk for Putin
In Ramzan Kadyrov, Russian President Vladimir Putin has found someone who can both keep Chechnya under control and supply ruthless troops for conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. But the Kremlin's hold over its Chechen warlord is tenuous and risks backfiring in the long term. Acting now could have dire consequences as well.
GIS Dossier: Ukraine
Four years after the Maidan revolution swept President Viktor Yanukovych from power, Ukraine remains suspended between Russia and the West. The protracted armed struggle to break free of Moscow’s orbit has helped forge a Ukrainian nation, but its politics and economy remain as dysfunctional as ever. This survey looks at reports published by GIS on Ukraine since 2012.