Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts

19 July 2018

Turkey Has Made a Quagmire for Itself in Syria

BY BORZOU DARAGAHI
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AFRIN, Syria — Murmurs of kidnappings for ransom hung in the air, and shootings and bombings continued just outside the city. Two women walked along the street adjacent to the government compound. “I’m scared to speak because of there,” one said, pointing to the collection of buildings from which Turkey and its local allies run the Afrin enclave. “There’s no safety. There’s no security.” Inside the compound, Turkish officials and Syrian allies cited some good news about Afrin during a tour for international journalists sponsored by the Turkish government. Numerous major Turkish charities are operating inside Afrin, helping distribute aid, establish democratic governance, and train local security forces.

4 July 2018

How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria


A NEW Syria is emerging from the rubble of war. In Homs, which Syrians once dubbed the “capital of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad, the Muslim quarter and commercial district still lie in ruins, but the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street. “Groom of Heaven”, proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict. In their sermons, Orthodox patriarchs praise Mr Assad for saving one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

3 July 2018

Beyond fragility: Syria and the challenges of reconstruction in fierce states

Steven Heydemann

Beginning as early as 2012, the Bashar Assad regime in Syria has worked to put in place the legal and regulatory authorities to implement an ambitious vision of reconstruction as a process of authoritarian stabilization. With its military victory close at hand, the regime’s intent is to use reconstruction to reimpose its authority, tighten its control over Syria’s society and economy, and fundamentally alter Syria’s demography to achieve what Assad himself has characterized as a “healthier and more homogenous society.”

29 June 2018

In southern Syria, the US faces a Russia-Israel challenge

by Joe Macaron

Dynamics in the southern front in Syria have reached a tipping point. Russian-Israeli coordination is taking precedence over the ceasefire agreement that US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached on the sidelines of the G20 summit last year. Iran and the United States are both facing increasing pressure in the area, while both the Syrian regime and the Syrian armed opposition are on alert over a potential clash to settle the question of who controls the southwest border areas.
US' ambivalent role on the southern front

25 June 2018

The Escalating Conflict with Hezbollah in Syria

Hezbollah and Iran have accumulated a substantial amount of weapons and fighters in Syria that pose a threat to the United States and its allies in the region. In response, Israel has conducted a growing number of strikes against Iranian, Hezbollah and other targets in Syria. An escalating war has the potential to cause significant economic damage, lead to high numbers of civilian casualties and internally displaced persons, and involve more countries in the region than did the 2006 Lebanon War. The stakes are high, making it critical for Washington to help prevent such an escalation. 

19 June 2018

Iran, Russia: What’s at Stake in the Syrian Civil War

By Xander Snyder

This article was originally published by Geopolitical Futures (GPF) on 23 May 2018.

The era of foreign intervention in Syria is coming to an end – at least that’s what Russian President Vladimir Putin said when Bashar Assad, Syria’s president, visited Sochi last week. Granted, Putin’s statement was ambiguous – “in connection with the significant victories … of the Syrian army … foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic” – but Russia’s Syria envoy clarified the next day that Putin was, in fact, calling on all militaries to vacate the country.

13 June 2018

Russia, Israel and Iran Strike a Deal in Syria

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited Moscow, on May 31, for talks with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Russian top brass. Lieberman was accompanied by several of his country’s top military officials, including the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) military intelligence chief, Major General Tamir Hyman. The visit was described by both sides as highly important. It was apparently successful in promoting a deal to deescalate Israeli-Iranian tensions in Syria, with Russia acting as a major go-between and powerbroker. Shoigu was pleased and invited Lieberman to attend the May 9 grand Victory Day military parade in Moscow “next year,” since this time the Israeli defense minister could not make it (Militarynews.ru, May 31).

12 June 2018

Developing a Containment Strategy in Syria


Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States should withdraw its military forces from Syria. But the United States has several interests in Syria:  Balancing against Iran, including deterring Iranian forces and militias from pushing close to the Israeli border, disrupting Iranian lines of communication through Syria, preventing substantial military escalation between Israel and Iran, and weakening Shia proxy forces.  Balancing against Russia, including deterring further Russian expansion in the Middle East from Syrian territory and raising the costs—including political costs—of Russian operations in Syria. Preventing a terrorist resurgence, including targeting Salafi-jihadist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda that threaten the United States and its allies. 

8 June 2018

Iran Wants to Stay in Syria Forever

BY BORZOU DARAGAHI
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Hamid Rezai was among the latest batch of soldiers to die for Iran in Syria, killed by an alleged Israeli rocket attack on the T4 airbase near Homs. He was a 30-year-old native of the capital, Tehran, a pious young man whose father had also been a soldier and who left behind an infant daughter. At Rezai’s late April burial service, his weeping mother said there was no stopping him from volunteering to fight in Syria. “It offends me when people ask, ‘Why didn’t you stand in his way?’” she said, according to an account in the hard-line Mashregh News. “My son chose his own path.”

6 June 2018

U.S. MILITARY WILL LEAVE SYRIA BASE IN DEAL WITH RUSSIA, REPORTS SAY

Tom O’Connor 

The U.S. has reportedly considered abandoning one of its most significant military installations in Syria as it prepared to enter into talks with Russia and Jordan over a deteriorating security situation in the war-torn country’s restive south. The report, which first surfaced Sunday in Saudi Arabian newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, came as Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Tuesday that Moscow “supported the idea of holding a trilateral meeting at a level convenient for our partners,” according to the state-run RIA Novosti. The U.S. and its Middle Eastern ally Jordan are opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces—backed by Russia and Iran—are planning a new offensive against rebels and jihadis across southern Syria. 

3 June 2018

Iran and Israel are Racing toward Confrontation in Syria

By Mona Yacoubian

Israel has long been wary of Iran’s power projection in the Levant, particularly in Syria. Ties between Tehran and Damascus have been close since the 1979 revolution, but the relationship deepened after Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011. With the Assad regime’s survival at stake, Tehran doubled down on its support, providing critical military assistance—fighters and strategists—and economic aid estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Syria and Iran now have a partnership with existential stakes—for the Assad regime’s longevity and Iran’s enduring position in Syria, the most strategic property in the Levant. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian looks at Iran and Israel’s goals and concerns in Syria and the potential of their shadow war spilling over into a regional conflagration.

29 May 2018

How 2011 Iraq Relates to Syria Today


Following the near destruction of ISIS in Iraq and in the U.S. “zone” in northeastern Syria, and then a call recently by the President Donald Trump to pull out of Syria, administration officials, pundits and foreign leaders have all urged the president to keep troops in Syria. As justification, these officials—including Secretary Mattis—often cite deleterious effects of the U.S. troop pullout from Iraq in 2011, including the breakdown of the Iraqi political system and ISIS’s 2014 sweep of Sunni Arab areas.

28 May 2018

Putin’s Endgame in Syria Has Arrived

BY JONATHAN SPYER

Syria increasingly seems to be moving toward de facto partition accompanied by ongoing low-level military conflict and a functional, but sluggish politics — a so-called frozen conflict. This may have been the goal all along for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has initiated and managed such conflicts elsewhere, including in Georgia and Ukraine. Other significant players in Syria, including Israel, the United States, Turkey, and the remaining Sunni Arab rebels, may likewise discover they’d be satisfied with this new reality. The clearest losers, by contrast, would be the Assad regime and Iran.

25 May 2018

Developing a Containment Strategy in Syria


Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States should withdraw its military forces from Syria. But the United States has several interests in Syria:  Balancing against Iran, including deterring Iranian forces and militias from pushing close to the Israeli border, disrupting Iranian lines of communication through Syria, preventing substantial military escalation between Israel and Iran, and weakening Shia proxy forces.  Balancing against Russia, including deterring further Russian expansion in the Middle East from Syrian territory and raising the costs—including political costs—of Russian operations in Syria. Preventing a terrorist resurgence, including targeting Salafi-jihadist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda that threaten the United States and its allies. 

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21 May 2018

Developing a Containment Strategy in Syria


Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States should withdraw its military forces from Syria. But the United States has several interests in Syria:  Balancing against Iran, including deterring Iranian forces and militias from pushing close to the Israeli border, disrupting Iranian lines of communication through Syria, preventing substantial military escalation between Israel and Iran, and weakening Shia proxy forces. Balancing against Russia, including deterring further Russian expansion in the Middle East from Syrian territory and raising the costs—including political costs—of Russian operations in Syria. Preventing a terrorist resurgence, including targeting Salafi-jihadist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda that threaten the United States and its allies. 

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Study: Russian Support Gave Assad Half of Syria

Agence France-Presse

Airstrikes against Syrian rebels have gone up 150 percent since Russia intervened in the conflict in 2015, helping the regime triple the territory under its control, a report published on Tuesday showed. The analysis by IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center (JTIC) also found that just 14 percent of the strikes were against the Islamic State group. It found that the Syrian state had increased the area under its control from 16 percent of the country in September 2015 to 47 percent in March 2018. Russian intervention not only ensured the survival of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, it changed the course of the war.

19 May 2018

Friends With Benefits

FRANCES Z. BROWN, MARA KARLIN

What does an “America first” national security strategy look like in action? The White House provided a hint in April, when news broke that National Security Adviser John Bolton had asked Arab nations, including Egypt and possibly Saudi Arabia, to supply ground forces to replace U.S. troops in Syria. (This came only weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump announcedhis desire to “bring our troops back home.”) Although details are scarce, Bolton’s new initiative appears to mirror a broader talking point coming from the Trump administration: rather than putting American lives at risk, the United States will work “by, with, and through” local forces to achieve its national security objectives.

17 May 2018

Assad Is Desperate for Soldiers


In late March, the Assad regime released a propaganda video aimed at the young men of Syria. In the video, titled “Braids of Fire,” Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, stands before a squad of female army volunteers dressed in camouflage and army boots. “You are far stronger and more courageous than many men because when the going got tough, you were on the front lines, and they were the ones running away or hiding,” she declares. Her words are intercut with images of the women volunteers in combat training, as well as testimonials from the women and their mothers. The underlying message: Shame on you men for fleeing military service—a “sacred duty” enumerated in Syria’s constitution.

16 May 2018

Why a Trade War Shouldn't Wreck World Markets

Todd Royal
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Geopolitical spats taking place in Syria, tensions over China’s militarization of the South China Sea, nuclear threats from North Korea, and daily tweets from President Trump have caused market turbulence in 2018. Yet the ten-year United States Treasury yield reached 3 percent for the first time in ten years, which is a sign of investor confidence and stable economic growth. The IMF also reiterated strong market fundamentals and U.S. jobless claims are at their lowest level in forty-eight years. Then why are markets considered so volatile at this time? The reason seems to be geopolitical-news-headlines-of-the-day trumping market sanity and strong macroeconomic fundamentals.

Russia Confirms a Revolutionary New Tank Was Sent to Syria

Eugene K. Chow
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Russia has been on the forefront of building unmanned ground vehicles and last week the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that their armed drone tank Uran-9 was tested in Syria. The Uran-9 is powerfully armed with anti-tank missiles, an automatic cannon and a machine gun. It can also be reconfigured to carry different weapons like surface-to-air missiles. Additionally, the unmanned vehicle is equipped with advanced optics and targeting systems including a laser warning system and thermal imaging. While the deployment of the Uran-6, a minesweeping drone, in Syria has been widely reported on, little has been said publicly about the Uran-9, and military observers and analysts have yet to see it in Syria.