As long as political fragmentation and international meddling endure, there will be neither cohesiveness nor willingness to fight IS, al-Qaeda, or other extremist groups. READ MORE
As the Islamic State (IS) transforms into a flat organization with autonomous cells around the globe, the foreign fighters returning to their home countries pose a significant challenge to both western and Muslim majority countries alike. READ MORE
A key question for Washington is how to maintain the Kurdish-Arab alliance in the absence of a front line against IS. The complex puzzle of shifting alliances invites ethnic competition to prepare for the day American troops leave Syria. READ MORE
The outcome of Turkey’s local elections has surprised many analysts and frustrated the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which had dominated the Turkish media and benefited from massive state resources for its campaign. READ MORE
The Gaza marches, Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem, and the American decision to accelerate moving the US embassy there give Turkey and Erdoğan a golden opportunity to play a central role regarding Palestinian affairs. Turkey’s position today enables it to strengthen its ties with both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and bolster its claim to be an arbiter between them. READ MORE
Syria’s fragmented landscape and the Assad regime’s weak position vis-à-vis Russia and Iran will likely cause a compartmentalization of Damascus’s strategic plans and, hence, obstruct the regime’s full recovery of territorial control over Syria. READ MORE
Idlib’s population has dramatically increased, reaching 3 million in the past two years, including hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people who have nowhere to escape. UN officials also appealed to Turkey to open its borders to refugees if a full-blown regime attack were to take place. READ MORE
US-Turkey tensions over northern Syria are likely to endure unless two critical Turkish demands are met: (1) the United States gives a green light for a Turkish-controlled buffer zone in the eastern Euphrates, and (2) the Pentagon retrieves its arms and military equipment from the YPG. While the first demand may garner Washington’s approval with some reservations, the latter is unlikely. READ MORE
Shia militias banded together under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are key participants in Iraq’s upcoming national and provincial elections. This policy brief provides an analysis of these various PMF factions and their electoral platforms.
The main takeaways are:
• Multiple Shiite parties are competing to benefit from the PMF’s reputation in Iraq’s upcoming elections, hoping to translate field victories into political
• While Washington remains optimistic about Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi offering effective leadership, the premier appears to be stuck between Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri, two main Shiite leaders whose popularity is on the rise.
• U.S. policy makers should actively support Iraq’s efforts to establish an integrated, nonsectarian national army and support Iraqi state institutions to lessen the chances of Iraq splitting apart.