Syria Publications

Learning from Sykes-Picot

Nov 19, 2015
The collapse of central authority in both Syria and Iraq, coupled with the rise of a growing number of non-state actors, has given rise to much speculation about the future of the Levant and the end of at least some of the states formed after World War I. The first of a long series of agreements that defined the post-Ottoman Levant was one reached by a British and a French diplomat, Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot, in 1916. The “end of Sykes-Picot” has become the short hand for speculation about a possible reconfiguration of the states of the Levant.

The Islamic State as Icarus: A Critical Assessment of An Untenable Threat

Oct 05, 2015
Few if any international security threats are consuming the world’s attention as much as the Islamic State terror group, or ISIS. What is the true nature of this threat, and particularly beyond its strongholds in Syria and Iraq? What threat does the group pose in neighboring countries and other key regions, and particularly South Asia?
The Regional Cold Wars in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East: Crucial Periods and Turning Points, edited by Lorenz M. Lüthi

The Regional Cold Wars in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East: Crucial Periods and Turning Points

May 21, 2015
The Regional Cold Wars in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East systematically explores the crucial turning points in the Cold War on all of its diverse fronts and examines the mutual interconnections of events in diverse regional Cold War theaters.

ISIS: Many Faces, Different Battles

Feb 12, 2015
Ottaway writes that ISIS has at least three components: ISIS as a proto-state, ISIS as part of an Islamist network, and ISIS as a state of mind. These different aspects of ISIS cannot be fought with the same means, and policies that might help against one of these components may make attempts to combat the others more difficult.

We Bomb ISIL: Then What?

Sep 30, 2014
Military action in Iraq and Syria is moving ahead without a political strategy to accompany it. Although the administration argues that defeating ISIL requires the formation of inclusive governments, neither Iraq nor Syria has such government. The absence of a real political strategy will undermine any military success.

Barbarians: ISIS’s Mortal Threat to Women

Aug 20, 2014
For this issue of Viewpoints, the Middle East Program reached out to a number of its regular contributors and invited them to share with us their thoughts and concerns on the treatment of women and girls by ISIS.
Contested Frontiers in the Syria-Lebanon-Israel Region: Cartography, Sovereignty, and Conflict by Asher Kaufman

Contested Frontiers in the Syria-Lebanon-Israel Region: Cartography, Sovereignty, and Conflict

Oct 28, 2013
Contested Frontiers studies one of the flash points of the Middle East—a region of roughly 100 square kilometers where Syria, Lebanon, and Israel come together but where the borders have never been clearly marked. Asher Kaufman analyzes this geopolitical conflict, and reflects on the meaning of borders and frontiers today.

Deciphering Russian Policy on Syria: What Happened…and What’s Next

Oct 23, 2013
A central principle of Putin’s foreign policy is reasserting Russia’s role as a great power on the global stage. Moscow has worked to restore and build ties to its former Cold War allies in the Middle East in pursuit of this goal.

U.S. Policy toward Syria: Making the Best of a Bad Situation?

Oct 04, 2013
The Obama administration’s policy of non-intervention in Syria has been criticized both for permitting the ruling minority Alawite regime there to continue oppressing the Sunni Arab majority as well as for allowing the radical jihadist opposition to grow in strength vis-à-vis the moderate opposition. Several important domestic political and foreign policy concerns, though, have impelled President Obama to pursue this non-interventionist policy.

Iran and Syria at the Crossroads: The Fall of the Tehran-Damascus Axis?

Aug 07, 2013
The alliance between Iran and Syria has been an important and persistent feature on the political landscape of the Middle East for more than three decades. The eruption of the Syrian uprising in the spring of 2011 has presented the greatest challenge to the survival of the Tehran-Damascus nexus. Does this signify the end of the partnership? This article provides a brief overview of the relationship and a detailed analysis of the evolution of Iran’s policies, perspectives, interests, and options in the ongoing Syrian crisis.