Afghanistan’s powerbrokers are in the early stages of an intense competition as they prepare for the planned 2019 presidential election. The multi-month disagreement between President Ashraf Ghani and warlord and long-time Balkh Province Governor Mohammad Atta Noor over the latter’s governorship is the first stage of a much larger battle between the two politicians for the presidency.
Russia is a poor country—its economy is roughly the size of Italy’s on a bigger population and a vast territory—and conventional warfare is exceedingly expensive. That is why Russia’s Vladimir Putin has opted for hybrid warfare whenever possible—it is the manner of fighting best suited to the brilliant poor.
The U.S. faces three, interlocking competitions that will determine the future of the international order. The competitions pit America, its allies, and its partners against: the revisionist powers in Russia, China, and Iran; the revolutionary powers in the global movement animated by groups like al Qaeda ISIS; and the rogue power in North Korea. Success for the U.S. will require wrestling with all three competitions simultaneously and leveraging progress across them.
Any U.S. strategy relying on a partnered force must proceed from a realistic assessment of its capabilities and intentions. The Institute for the Study of War completed an Order of Battle study to evaluate the capabilities and disposition of the ISF. This study also presents an Order of Battle of the PMF to help U.S. decision makers and forces on the ground recognize and remediate the presence of Iranian-backed militias within the ISF.
Al Qaeda is growing stronger in Southern Syria. An assassination campaign targeting mainstream opposition commanders and governance officials is facilitating al Qaeda’s consolidation of power along the borders of Jordan and Israel. Southern Syria stands at increasing risk of becoming a second Idlib Province, which currently serves as a formidable safe haven for al Qaeda.
The ‘de-escalation zone’ in Syria brokered by the U.S, Russia, and Jordan threatens the strategic interests of the U.S. and its allies. The deal fails to constrain Iran and al Qaeda despite the decreased violence in Southwest Syria.
This graphic marks the latest installment of our Syria SITREP Map made possible through a partnership between the Institute for the Study of War and Syria Direct. This graphic depicts significant developments in the Syrian Civil War from October 10 - 24, 2017. The control of terrain represented on the graphic is accurate as of October 10, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's political-military campaign in Ukraine undermines Ukraine's sovereignty and threatens Europe more than three years after Russia's invasion. Russian leaders will continue to extend and exploit the war to destabilize Ukraine and prevent its further integration with the West until the costs of their campaign change their calculus.
In his December 2009 speech at West Point, President Obama set July 2011 as the beginning of a process of transition in Afghanistan, where geographic or functional responsibilities are to be handed over from the international coalition to the host nation. As policymakers in NATO capitals and practitioners in Afghanistan think about transition, they can take a lesson from the Iraq experience.
"In May, 2007 I deployed to Iraq to become the Commanding General responsible for accelerating the growth of the Iraq