Al Qaeda has reinvigorated its effort to unite anti-Assad groups into a single military force in northwest Syria after Russia enabled the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad to break a months-long stalemate in northwest Syria.
Russia has been building its campaign to expand its influence across the African continent ahead of the inaugural Africa-Russia Summit in October 2019. The campaign provides insight into the Kremlin’s potential points of vulnerability and the risk of blowback from failed influence operations.
Conditions in Afghanistan are worse today than they were when the Soviets withdrew, even if the insurgency is weaker. No actors share a compelling vision for the future of Afghanistan. No faction is strong enough to exert full control over the country. As the U.S. and NATO prepare for a drawdown, they must be clear-eyed about the likely outcome.
The latest SITREP covers insurgent attacks in Southern Syria, demonstrations of support for ISIS in the al Hawl IDP camp, and Turkish-backed forces' targeting of Russia's airbase on the Syrian coast.
The Turkish Armed Forces began deploying large numbers of troops and armored vehicles along the Syrian-Turkish Border in early July. The threat of a further Turkish intervention into Northern Syria is part of an effort to extract concessions from the U.S. and NATO.
With an eye on a major summit this fall, Russia continues to develop closer military, economic, and political ties with African states as part of its campaign to mitigate sanctions and compete with the West.
The latest SITREP covers pro-Assad regime activity in Northern Hama Province, the Syrian Democratic Forces restructuring military councils, and Saudi Arabia's support for stabilization efforts in Eastern Syria.
ISIS is stronger today than its predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was in 2011, when the U.S. withdrew from Iraq. ISIS’s insurgency will grow because areas it has lost in Iraq and Syria are still neither stable nor secure. Its successful reconstitution of a physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria would produce new waves of ISIS attacks. Read the assessment of the risks that lie ahead in a new ISW report.
Russia poses a significant threat to the United States and its allies for which the West is not ready. Its unconventional warfare and information operations pose daunting but not insuperable challenges. The West must act urgently to meet this threat without exaggerating it. The U.S. and its allies need a coherent global approach to meeting and transcending the Russian challenge.
The Kremlin may decide to push Serbia to escalate militarily against Kosovo—a move that would likely end the normalization talks, fully pull Serbia into Russia’s orbit, and limit Kosovo’s integration prospects with the West.