Emily Burchfield

  • The Influence of Domestic Politics on Foreign Policy in Syria

    On January 13, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuannounced that Israeli forces attacked Iranian weapons warehouses in Damascus the day prior, confirming similar reports by Syrian state media. What is unusual about Netanyahu’s statement is not the content—indeed, Israeli officials previouslyacknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes onthousands of Iranian targets

    ...

    Read More
  • Burchfield in the National Interest: Iran Relies on Foreign Militias and Young Shia Muslims to Fight Its War in Syria


    Read More
  • Has the US Given Up on Stabilization Efforts in Syria?

    The Trump administration announced last month that it would not be releasing the over $200 million in State Department funds destined for stabilization operations in Syria, which were “frozen” by President Trump earlier in March this year pending comprehensive review. Much has been made of what this move means for the future of U.S. policy in Syria, warranting deeper examination and attention to context. For reasons addressed below, neither Trump’s tweet nor headlines asserting that the United States has ended stabilization efforts for Syria paint the full picture.

    Read More
  • Iraq Protests Highlight Gap in US Policy

    As most headlines continue to focus on US President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and fallout from the NATO summit, Iraq is witnessing some of the largest and most prolonged protests in years. The protests began last week, triggered by water and electricity shortages, unemployment, and government corruption. Despite the growing unrest in a country where the United States has significant interests and forces deployed, there has been little mention of current events in Iraq by American officials or the mainstream media.

    Read More
  • The Pitfall of Politicizing Syrian Refugees in Turkey’s Election

    Of all the things that could hurt Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in this weekend’s election—authoritarian tendencies, a poor human rights record, and reports of rampant corruption—one of its more liberal policies may be its undoing.

    Polls indicate that the AKP could possibly lose its grip on power for the first time in years, and it may have something to do with the party’s welcoming stance towards Syrian refugees. With elections approaching, the 3.9 million Syrian refugees that Turkey hosts have become a rallying point for opposition leaders, who seek to gain from increasingly intolerant...

    Read More
  • Is Local Government Legitimacy Possible in Eastern Syria?

    As operations in areas of eastern Syria cleared of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) transition from immediate humanitarian response to longer-term stabilization efforts, the establishment and empowerment of inclusive, representative, and legitimate local governance will be crucial in preventing the resurgence of extremism and violence. Understanding the current conditions of local governance in this region, especially relating to both Arab and Kurdish populations, will be essential to consider in framing US policy in Syria moving forward.

    Read More
  • The Danger of US Assistance to the UN, Rewarding Assad

    In his recent testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former United States Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, called on Congress and the US administration to consider cutting assistance to United Nations humanitarian aid programs in Syria. He followed up with an op-edin The Hill explaining his controversial stance: for years the Assad government has impeded or entirely blocked aid to opposition-held areas, effectively causing the US government, through the UN, to subsidize the Syrian government with one-sided humanitarian aid. This legitimizes and enriches the very apparatus responsible for the genesis of the conflict in Syria and the prolonged suffering of millions. Ambassador Ford is not alone in his call for a re-evaluation of the current US...
    Read More
  • Stabilization vs Reconstruction: What is the Long Term Role of the US in Syria?

    A key component of the new US policy towards Syria, as outlined by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in his address at Stanford, is its focus on stabilization efforts in areas cleared of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh). Stabilization efforts, according to Tillerson, aim to bring about two of the five desired end states he enumerates: ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS, and facilitating conditions that would allow for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). His concession that “no party in the Syrian conflict is capable of victory or stabilizing the country via military means alone” indicates an understanding of the root cause of both the war with ISIS and the Syrian civil war: bad governance.

    Read More
  • The Conditions and Implications for the Afrin Attack

    The first substantial evidence of a US plan for stabilization in post-ISIS Syria was revealed this week—and it didn’t go well. On Sunday, spokesmen from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) announced intentions to build a “border security” force of around 30,000 troops; made up primarily of veteran SDF fighters. The plan illuminates Turkey’s summoning of the US charge d’affaires last week: Turkey is enraged by the proposal, and Erdogan vowed on Monday to “drown this army of terror before it is born.” SDF fighters, who would make up about half of the border...
    Read More
  • Under Pressure: The Effect of Conflict on the Euphrates Dam

     In the race for Raqqa, Tabqa may just be a stop along the way. But the impact of the conflict on the city’s dam could have disastrous and lasting consequences.

    Read More