SyriaSource

  • In Istanbul, Geopolitical Maneuvering But No Progress

    A summit held in Istanbul on Saturday failed to produce any breakthroughs in the core disagreements over the Syrian conflict. It did however have notable geopolitical implications that affect each of the four attendees Russia, Germany, and France, and Turkey – two of whom are new to an effort created to manage Russia and Turkish interests in Syria. Significantly, the United States took no part in the meeting despite the presence of two major European allies and NATO partner, Turkey.

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  • Strategic Change and its Challenges

    During the Obama administration, Syria was treated as a two-part puzzle divided by the Euphrates River. East of the Euphrates, the objective was to degrade and destroy ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State). The strategy was to support the anti-ISIS combat operations of a Kurdish (eventually Kurdish-dominated) militia with weapons, ammunition, supplies, and advisors on the ground, and combat aircraft aloft. Although the Trump administration believes it can take credit for having accelerated the anti-ISIS campaign, the objective and strategy in the east have remained constant.

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  • War Games in Syria: A Lesson in Futility

    In the final, climactic scene of the 1983 film “War Games,” Matthew Broderick (David) and Ally Sheedy (Jennifer) watch as John Wood (Professor Falken) manages to get his computer program, Joshua, to play itself in a game of thermonuclear war. The stakes are high: Joshua had been hacked and was running a simulation of a nuclear showdown with Soviet Russia that risked actual missile launch. To prevent an unintended global thermonuclear war, Joshua learns after playing tic-tac-toe and then simulating different launch sequences over and over again that some games have no winner. There is no winning move in either tic-tac-toe or global thermonuclear war therefore, the only winning move is not to play. 

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  • What is the Future of HTS in Idlib?

    In mid-September, Russia and Turkey signed an agreement regarding Idlib province in northern Syria. The agreement establishes a nine to twelve mile demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the Syrian regime and...
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  • Consequences of the Cold Shoulder: US Refugee Policy and Middle East Instability

    On October 4, President Trump officially approved a refugee cap of 30,000—an all-time low. In August, despite previously increasing aid to Jordan, the US decided to end all UNRWA funding for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. This summer, the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s controversial travel ban that affects refugees and immigrants alike. Of the eight countries listed, five are in the Middle East/North Africa.

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  • Discontent Among Assyrians in Syria's Northeast

    Prominent Assyrian Christian writer and dissident Souleman Yusph was in his home in northeastern Syria’s Qamishli last Sunday night when local security personnel reportedly burst in, arrested him, and carried off his laptop and cell phones with them.

    By the following Thursday night, sixty-one year old Yusph—a vocal critic of the majority-Kurdish Self-Administration that controls the vast majority of Hasakah province, as well as parts of neighboring Raqqa and Deir e-Zor provinces—had been released, later seen reuniting at home with tearful family members in photos shared via social media.

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  • The Arc of Crisis in the MENA Region

    On Tuesday, October 9th, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East held a conference to discuss the nature of foreign involvement in ongoing conflicts in the region as well as the resilience of Jihadism in the post-2011 period. The conference coincided with the launching of a report, “The Arc of Crisis in the MENA Region: Fragmentation, Decentralization, and Islamist Opposition,” which explores a number of trends in governance that have emerged since the Arab Spring.

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  • Escalating Tensions Between Israel and Hezbollah in Syria

    The Syrian war continues to exacerbate long-simmering tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. The situation is further complicated by recurring Hezbollah and Iranian drone surveillance and targeted air strikes along the Israel-Syria border. Neither Israel nor Hezbollah is willing to enter into a protracted conflict; both sides realize that they’ve reached a point of “mutually assured heavy damage.” Furthermore, Hezbollah’s forces, based in Lebanon, are now overstretched across Syria. Tension between Israel and Hezbollah is unlikely to end, as engaging Israel militarily is a major part of Hezbollah’s doctrine. Its...
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  • Lessons Learned? Canada’s Problematic Syrian Resettlement Process

    In late 2015, Canada’s Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau was elected, in part on a promise to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees. The Liberal Party leveraged the ‘success’ into branding opportunities—championing ‘the Canadian modelat home and abroad. They delivered, but, in their haste, the limitations of Canada’s foreign missions were exposed as problematic with inefficient policies and practices. Without political pressure to learn...
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  • Three Years Later: The Evolution of Russia’s Military Intervention in Syria

    As it draws closer to the eve of September 30when three years earlier Russian military intervention in Syria first beganit is telling that Russia’s influence in Syria continues to grow on the ground and internationally, particularly through various de-escalation zones, the Astana peace process, and more recently the de-militarized zone in Idlib province.

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