The White House is dropping strong hints that the number of American troops in Afghanistan after 2014 may fall below 10,000, possibly even below 5,000. Unnamed White House officials suggested to the press that lower levels of U.S. support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be sufficient to contain future Taliban threats.
Iraq is experiencing a political and security crisis. Iraq’s April 30, 2014 national elections will determine the shape of Iraq’s national government for the next four years, if indeed a government can endure Iraq’s potential relapse into civil war.
Hezbollah’s deepening involvement in Syria is one of the most important factors of the conflict in 2013 and 2014. The impact of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria has been felt not just on the battlefield, where the regime now has momentum in many areas, but also in Lebanon where growing sectarian tensions have undermined security and stability.
Anbar is not the only front in Iraq on which Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), now operating as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), is fighting in 2014. ISIS has also established a governorate in Diyala. Its spokesman has named the province the central front in the sectarian conflict he has urged.
As the most significant remaining rebel stronghold in the Qalamoun region, the fall of Yabroud is an important strategic victory for the regime and demonstrates improved operational planning by pro-Assad forces.
The death of First Vice President Marshal Qasim Fahim will have an even bigger impact on the aftermath of the forthcoming presidential election than on its outcome. This article now updated with information about the nomination of Mohammad Yunus Qanooni to fill his position.
The Afghanistan ORBAT (in PDF format) describes the location and area of responsibility of all American units in Afghanistan, down to the battalion level, updated as of February 2014.
The influx of military support to both sides of the conflict precludes a decisive military victory for either regime or rebels and ensures the protraction of the war. A protracted fight, the end of which cannot be negotiated, is on hand.
Damascus is the Syrian regime’s center of gravity. The capital of Syria has long been viewed by the rebel forces as the key to winning the war in Syria, and its loss is unthinkable for Bashar al-Assad. Thus the struggle for Damascus is existential for the regime as well as the opposition.
ISW reporting has covered the events unfolding in Ramadi and Fallujah as Al-Qaeda in Iraq clashes with tribal militias and Iraqi Security Forces. For additional reading, see our timeline here.