Syria's Assad is the primary obstacle to peace in Syria. The U.S. has for too long, and with little basis, expected Russia to compel Assad to accept a genuine diplomatic process to end the war. Given Russia's intent, it is time for the U.S. to widen its aperture for what diplomacy in Syria can and should achieve.
Russia established a permanent rotary-wing headquarters and support structure at Qamishli Airport on November 14 and likely intends to deploy new air defense systems to the area, enabling it to further contest the U.S. position in Eastern Syria.
President Trump met with Turkish President Erdogan on November 13 to discuss the situation in Syria. In recent weeks, Turkey has continued to expand its offensive in the northeast, prompting Russia and the Assad regime to strengthen their positions along frontlines and along the Syria-Turkey border.
Vladimir Putin is using Russia’s campaign in Africa to support a range of strategic objectives. His latest push surrounding the Russia-Africa summit focused on security cooperation, the information space, nuclear energy exports, and access to natural resources.
Protests continued to grow in Baghdad and southern Iraq after Iran intervened to block the resignation or ouster of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi in a no-confidence vote. Backlash against Iranian influence among Iraqis is intensifying in Karbala and Baghdad.
ISW Board Member General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus was a recent guest on the ISW Overwatch podcast. On the episode, he shared his perspective on the current situation in the Middle East and U.S. strategy. The discussion focuses on the future of ISIS, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
How would the announced agreement on Northern Syria between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alter the situation on the ground if implemented? See the new ISW map for a depiction of the deal's terms.
It is unclear whether the U.S. and the Taliban will resume talks following the breakdown in negotiations in September 2019. On the battlefield, al Qaeda continues to expand its presence in Afghanistan in a close relationship with the Taliban.
Iraqi cleric Muqtada al Sadr called for renewed protests in a statement released on the Shi’a religious holiday of Arba’een on October 19. Sadr accused the government of being “incapable of reform.” The Iraqi government is meanwhile establishing a new force to suppress further protests.
Ketti Davison forecasts ten likely outcomes of the twin crises in Syria and Iraq for the Defense One website. Among the threats to watch for: a degraded U.S. ability to target terror plotters and an opportunity for Russia as it carves out a leading regional role.