Syria

  • Consequences of the US Withdrawal from Syria: The French Perspective

    French authorities were undoubtedly upset, if not very surprised, by US President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement of a withdrawal from the northeast of Syria. On several occasions during his talks with President Trump, especially when he came to Washington for a state visit in April 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron was very insistent that the US and their allies should stay, ultimately he did not change the American president’s decision and campaign commitment to end America’s wars abroad.


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  • 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 in Syria—but the context. The announcement broke with a “policy of ambiguity” under which Israel refuses to claim responsibility immediately after a specific attack; the rationale being to safeguard against potential retaliation. 


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  • Expert Analysis on US Soldiers Killed in Manbij

    This morning reports of four Americanskilled in Manbij, Syria surfaced with the Islamic State (ISIS) claiming theattack which came in the form of a suicide explosive vest next to a US patrol. The attack killed two US soldiers, a civilian from the Defense Intelligence Agency, and a US contractor. Several civilians were also caught in the attack withestimates of thirteen to sixteen casualties in addition to the deaths of two local security officers. The attack occurred in the main market near a girls’ school and restaurant as US troops met up with the local Manbij Military Council (MMC). Comments and analysis from our experts are below.


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  • Can Anything Be Salvaged?

    President Trump’s impulsive “out of Syria” tweet of December 19, 2018 may have sacrificed high value, low cost American leverage in eastern Syria for precisely nothing.  Russian, Iranian, and Assad regime alarm that the West would work with local Syrians in areas liberated from ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State) to create the long-awaited governance alternative to Bashar al-Assad, family, and friends have all-but-evaporated.  It was that possibility – the presentation to all Syrians of a good government, civilized alternative to mass murder, state terror, war crimes, bottomless corruption, and subservience to Iran – that was the essence of Western leverage: not the physical presence of 2,000 uniformed Americans.  But those soldiers and marines were a tripwire and a symbol of American determination to seal the victory over ISIS by paving the way for political transition in all of Syria.  The president may have given it away.  For nothing. 


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  • Winter Storm in Arsal, Lebanon Devastates Vulnerable Syrian Refugee Communities

    Up one of the steep hillsides that line Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, Soheir al-Kanoun hasn’t left the house in days.

    A Palestinian refugee originally from Syria’s Yarmouk camp, who now lives in a hillside town overlooking the valley below, al-Kanoun’s family have been living off bread and tahini since Storm Norma began—groceries bought hastily last week in preparation for rain, wind and snow.

    And while the elevation has protected al-Kanoun and her elderly mother from flooding, hillside snow and ice has hemmed them inside since the weekend.  

    “I can’t go out in this weather,” she said. “We live up in the hills. People rarely go outside.”


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  • Cohen in Newsweek: Trump's Syria Withdrawal: Global Order is Costly. Global Chaos Would be Far Worse


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  • Slowing Down the Train

    One thing to be learned from the uproar following the recent out-of-Syria presidential tweet is that “ready, aim, fire” makes just as much sense in government as it does on the firing range. By most accounts, US President Donald Trump is now where he should have been two weeks ago: in the “ready” phase, consulting with his national security team on the implementation of a strategy aimed at killing ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State) in Syria and keeping it deadby preventing the pseudo-caliphate’s chief recruiting officer—Bashar al-Assad—from taking over liberated eastern Syria. But the round fired before aiming may yet prove fatal. Syrian Kurds—the core of the anti-ISIS coalition ground combat force—are now imploring the Russians (a) to get them a good deal from the Assad regime and (b) make the regime abide by it. “Fire, aim, ready” has spooked the Kurds. Fearing abandonment by Washington, they may well abandon the fight against ISIS.


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  • Slavin Quoted in BuzzFeed on President Trump's Announcement to Withdraw Troops from Syria


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  • Wechsler Quoted in VICE News on Trump's Sudden Syria Withdrawel


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  • Our Greatest Hits for 2018

    As we look back at the tumultuous year for Syria in 2018, it's sadly ending with the withdrawal of US troops and an unclear US-Syria policy moving forward. The implications of this policy are likely far reaching. Time will tell what the damage will be and how the conflict will continue to evolve. Below we have listed our top viewed articles of the year. By far, the most viewed is the one penned by our outgoing director, Ambassador Frederic C. Hof as he moved on to other scholarly pursuits teaching at Bard College. Thankfully, he's continued writing and our viewers and center are grateful for it. 

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