ISIS

Deconstructing the U.S.-Russian Impasse Over Syria

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The Beginning of the End of Russia’s Estrangement from the West

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The Looming Problem of Tal Afar

The opening weeks of the operation to liberate the ISIS-held Nineveh province, which aims to expel ISIS from the seat of its caliphate in Mosul, has seemingly gone quite well. The advances made by the coordinated units of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the Kurdish peshmerga has been steady, cautious even, as villages and towns have been retaken from a northern front toward Bashiqa, to an eastern and southern front from Qayyarah toward Hamdaniya (Bakhdida) and Bartella, to the very outskirts of the city of Mosul itself.

Aleppo as a Path to Invincibility

Monday was a fateful day for U.S.-Russia relations. Both sides told each other that they had nothing more to talk about in Syria. President Vladimir Putin that same day made history by drafting a law that read like a dark joke about the two countries’ state of mutual respect.

The Kremlin submitted a draft law to parliament ending Russia’s participation in a treaty that had both Russia and the U.S. disposing of their stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium. The bill also includes a list of mostly impossible conditions under which Moscow would reinstate its adherence to the treaty.

Russian-Iranian Relations in 2016: Partners of Convenience

Although recently Russia has firmly allied itself with the Iran-led Shia axis in the Middle East, Russian-Iranian relations are far from the strategic partnership they are often seen as. Despite increased military cooperation, Russian-Iranian relations remain tense and ambiguous, bearing the potential for both further rapprochement and increased rivalry.

A Post-ISIS Recovery Plan for Syria

The Mosul operation to defeat ISIS is now underway. After Mosul, U.S. and coalition efforts will concentrate on Raqqa in Syria, ISIS’s putative capital. When Raqqa falls, ISIS will cease to control any sizeable territory and will have been dealt a deathblow. But Syria will continue to be mired in a civil war that has made refugees of half of its population.

Syria and the Global Refugee Crisis: A Conversation on Refugees with Refugees

According to one UN report, the number of people displaced by war and persecution in recent years is larger than what occurred during WW II and also larger than at any time since detailed record keeping began. A focal point has been the ongoing violence in Syria and the humanitarian and global refugee crisis it has created. A recent Wilson Center event conducted in cooperation with Smithsonian Media and the Independent Diplomat featured a conversation on refugees with Syrian refugees, giving voice to a group in the eye of the storm.

Middle East Leaders at UN on Extremism

Top leaders from across the Middle East expressed their support for efforts to confront terrorism, in their addresses to the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly. They emphasized the need for international cooperation and partnerships to defeat the urgent threat to international peace and security. Some called for addressing the roots of terrorism and circumstances that contribute to the promotion of radical ideologies. But the leaders also stressed that terrorism is not associated with any religion, highlighting Islam’s tolerance and moderation.

Vilification of Saudi Arabia Serves No Good Purpose

The vilification of Saudi Arabia has become a fashionable but highly risky game in Washington today.  Congress has passed overwhelmingly a bill that would lift Saudi Arabia’s sovereign immunity to allow 9/11 families to sue its government for its alleged support of the worst terrorist attack ever inside the United States.

Airstrike Trends: August 2016

In August, the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State – also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh – conducted 24 percent fewer airstrikes in Iraq and Syria compared to July. The airstrikes totaled 273 in Syria and 251 in Iraq.

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