Syria Update: The Fall of al-Qusayr

June 6, 2013 - Elizabeth O'Bagy

With the help of thousands of fighters from Hezbollah, Iran, and Iraq, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has achieved one of his most important military victories in the past two years by forcing the withdrawal of opposition forces from the town of al-Qusayr. Al-Qusayr now also cuts off access to cross-border weapons supplies to the rebels from Lebanon and provides an important staging ground for future efforts by the regime to retake the north and east.

Iraq's sectarian crisis reignites as Shi'a militias execute civilians and remobilize

June 1, 2013 - Ahmed Ali

Al Qaeda in Iraq launched a concentrated wave of car-bomb and other attacks specifically against civilian Shi'a targets in and around Baghdad. Shi'a militias are mobilizing and have begun a round of sectarian killings.

Iraq's Sunnis in Crisis

May 28, 2013 - Stephen Wicken

The political participation of the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq is critical to the security and stability of the state. At present, they are functionally excluded from government. Without effective political representation, the Sunni in Iraq are left with few alternatives to address their grievances against the Maliki government.

Syria Update: Assad Targets Sunni along Syria’s Coast

May 10, 2013 - Elizabeth O'Bagy

Recent violence against Sunni communities in Syria’s coastal region raises new concern over sectarianism in Syria. It also suggests to some that Assad will move to form an Alawi state.

Iranian Strategy in Syria

May 2, 2013 - Joseph Holliday

The Islamic Republic of Iran has conducted an extensive, expensive, and integrated effort to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power as long as possible.

Syria Update: Implications of Chemical Weapon Use on U.S. Aid Decision

May 1, 2013 - Institute for the Study of War

On April 25, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed that the United States had evidence of chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime, albeit with “varying degrees of confidence”

2013 Iraq Update #17B: Iraq On The Edge

April 28, 2013 - Marisa Cochrane Sullivan

Iraq continues its slide towards widespread violence. Over the weekend, the Iraqi government has issued an ultimatum to anti-government protesters following an attack in Anbar province that left five soldiers dead.

The Smart and Right Thing in Syria

April 22, 2013 - Kimberly Kagan

The United States must embrace the Syrian opposition fully in order to strengthen its moderate elements, convert the networks of opposition groups into a functioning hierarchy that can govern the country, and ensure that a moderate, representative state friendly to the United States emerges in the wake of Assad.

Iraq’s Provincial Elections and their National Implications

April 19, 2013 - Ahmed Ali

On April 20th, Iraq will hold its third provincial elections since 2005. There are 447 open seats nationwide, and competition for them is fierce. Previous elections illustrate that winning provincial seats can reverberate on the national level.

Syria Update: Regime Breaks Siege of Wadi al-Deif

April 18, 2013 - Institute for the Study of War

On April 14, 2013, regime forces broke the 6-month siege of the Wadi al-Deif and Hamidiya military compounds outside of Maarat al-Numan, putting the rebel opposition in the area on the defensive and reestablishing overland supply lines to the bases.