Much is made of Iran’s use of proxy or allied groups to exert “hard power” influence throughout the Middle East where Tehran believes its interests are under threat (Lebanon), or sees an opportunity to exert greater influence (Syria, Iraq), or to act as a spoiler (Yemen). But far less is made
We asked six experts, “Did 9/11 define our world? If so, how? If not, what did?” After each of their responses to these questions, editor Lydia Khalil challenges the experts with questions that delve deeper into their rationales and reasons
Questions about what Western governments wish Syria to become – including where it fits in terms of their strategic interests, its humanitarian and population movement ramifications, and the values to which those governments pay lip service – have never been directed with the vigour they
The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated global and local news to such an extent for the last 18 months that there remains room for little else. But the aftermath of military campaigns in the broader Middle East has continued to generate headlines. Most recently it was the debate over Canberra’s
Of all the Middle East challenges facing the new Biden administration, Syria is unlikely to be at the top of the list. With the territorial defeat of Islamic State, it appears that a sort of benign neglect has marked Washington’s approach to the country. Some have argued that the continued
When you have the privilege of working in international relations, there are some experiences that stay with you for life. There are the places you go and the people you meet. Conversations that start at the roundtable, continue into dinner, and often go late into the night. At airports and hotels,
Despite US President Donald Trump’s claim that the United States no longer needed Middle East oil following the attacks on the Abqaiq production facilities in Saudi Arabia in September last year, the fact is oil from the region does remain important to the US, not only for its own use, but also as
On Saturday last week, following weeks of lobbying by humanitarian agencies and difficult diplomatic negotiations, the UN Security Council renewed its authorisation for the UN and its partners to provide humanitarian assistance in north-western Syria from across the Turkish border. The final
Big moves in the Middle East often seek to take advantage of a favourable political climate in Washington. And there has rarely been as favourable time in Washington for some Middle East leaders as under the Trump administration. But in pro-US capitals across the region, leaders are no doubt bracing
Back in December, US President Donald Trump signed the National Defence Authorisation Act, which included was a set of measures known as the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act, or Caesar Act. It was so labelled after the codename of a Syrian defector who had exposed evidence of Syrian government
With so much else going awry in the world, it’s perhaps easy to forget that the Syrian civil war is rolling on into its tenth year. Scholars and policymakers have long been despondent about the prospects for an end to the conflict and the bloodshed it has caused. Bombs continue to fall on schools
Given the increasingly familiarity of video conferencing during working from home arrangements, we thought to take the opportunity to commence a new series of interviews with key policy makers and observers in world affairs. To kick off, we were fortunate to interview Brett McGurk, currently a
The novel coronavirus Covid-19 dominates not only the media headlines in Europe but the everyday life of just about anybody. In the federalist European Union, it is still up to the individual states, often also their parts – Bundesländer, Départements, Provincie, or whatever they are called –
As the Syrian Government intensifies its offensive against Syria’s Idlib province, the final opposition stronghold in the nine-year old war, diplomats and UN officials are running out of words in their attempts to convey the severity of the crisis to the UN Security Council. The UN Emergency
The Syrian conflict has once again shown just how complicated it can be, along with the ramifications if one side seeks too much change to the status quo.
Syrian government forces, with Russian assistance, have been waging a months-long campaign to capture key parts of rebel-controlled Idlib
Out of print
In the latest casualty of Lebanon’s ongoing political crisis, the country’s only national English-language newspaper, The Daily Star, has temporarily ceased publishing its print edition. In an announcement, the editors cited financial challenges and a drop in advertising revenue
In order to better understand what motivates Australian radical islamists to join or support a terrorist group it is first necessary to get a better understanding of who they are. This working paper examines data sets from 173 Australian citizens and residents to paint a picture of our own
October 2019 saw two major new developments in Syria which have shifted the geopolitics of the region: US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from north-east Syria, abandoning its allies the Kurds and allowing Turkey to invade; and the death, days later, of the Islamic State
There is a reason the Kurds say they have “no friend but the mountains”. Time and again human rights atrocities have been perpetrated against them, and they are not strategically important enough for any country to take their side.
News of death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Sceptical of US interests in the Middle East, averse to military deployments and non-committal to the value of alliances, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he will pull US troops out of Syria. As he puts it: “We want to protect the Kurds but I don’t want to be in Syria forever. It’
On 9 October, Turkey launched a military operation, code-named Operation Peace Spring, against US-allied Kurdish forces in north-eastern Syria. Ankara described the goal as creating a “safe zone” along the Turkish-Syrian border, 480 kilometres long and 32 kilometres deep, stretching from the
Just last week, much of Washington seemed to reach consensus on the direction of US policy in Syria. The Syria Study Group, a bipartisan committee convened by Congress to examine policy options released a final report, laying out a way forward. The committee concluded that sharp shifts and reversals
Last week in the United Nations Security Council, Russia and China blocked a resolution that would have demanded an end to fighting in the Syrian province of Idlib, the final stronghold of the opposition. It marks the 13th time that Russia has used its veto to block Security Council action on Syria
Syria is one among several Middle East regimes which believe that repression, if not used in moderation, provides a necessary answer to challenges to the existing political and social order. Accordingly, Western governments have to decide the relationship they wish to have with Syria, and its
The death of UK teenager Shamima Begum’s newborn son and the recent video of an Australian woman in Syria calling to be returned home with her sick infant daughter has brought the issue of ISIS minors and the role of the home government in safeguarding these citizens to the forefront.
The Islamic State is on the verge of total defeat. As a result, many of the remaining foreign fighters who travelled to the caliphate are coming out of the woodwork. One of those is Shamima Begum, a former student from the United Kingdom who at the age of 15 travelled along with two other
Don’t confuse tactical loyalty with strategic sense. No Kurd in their right mind would have believed that the US presence was anything but temporary.
It’s a new year and another chapter in the long-running Syrian civil war. With ISIS nearly defeated on the Syrian battleground, President Donald
Donald Trump’s announcement that he is pulling troops out of Syria is another example of the New York property developer turned president's decision-making style. If you don’t understand or don’t like the deal, then get out of it. All that matters is the bottom line.
In business this may
One of the ten principles of war taught at all military colleges is “Selection and Maintenance of the Aim”. It sounds simple enough, but when the principle is not adhered to then things often go awry.
Think the invasion of Iraq – was the aim to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, or to
The downing of a Russian Il-20 aircraft off the Syrian coast this week with the death of 15 personnel is another reminder of the cost to Moscow of its pro-regime military intervention. A little over six months ago, nearly 40 Russians died when a transport aircraft crashed on approach to
The latest front to attract the wavering interest of the international community in the Syrian conflict is Idlib, a province where the population of rebels of various ideological stripes and their dependents has grown every time the regime of Bashar al-Assad has bludgeoned and negotiated its
Bashar al-Assad’s forces have continued to re-assert government control over most of the major population centres in Syria, yet these cities and towns remain only partially functional and in no fit state to host their former residents. But there has been some interesting manoeuvring
More than seven years after Deraa became the cradle of the Syrian uprising, the city has effectively surrendered to regime forces. Its final days reflected a familiar pattern, where Damascus was able to bring heavier firepower to pummel the armed opposition groups into submission
The way in which the European Union and its member states responded to recent strikes by the US, France, and the UK on Syrian chemical weapons targets very clearly exposes the strengths and weaknesses of European power.
One or two Europeans are movers, but most are shakers.
When it came down to
The US military claims the ability of the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons has been set back “for years” following strikes on Saturday. Given it is just one year since the US last struck Syrian targets following a chemical weapons attack, the latest claim won’t wash for many.
President Donald Trump is under enormous pressure to respond militarily to the latest provocation by the Assad regime, but he would do so against all of his instincts and earlier pronouncements to end US military involvement in the Syrian war.
Just days before the chemical attacks in Douma,
It appears a new regional security order is encircling Syria as the civil war grinds into its seventh year. This shift was visible last week, when the leaders of Turkey, Iran, and Russia met in Ankara to discuss solutions to the Syrian crisis. The detailed talks covered de-escalation zones
The nexus between charitable aid and terrorism is a delicate and often difficult subject to discuss, let alone research. Some troubling relationships do exist, but the number of charities involved is small relative to the vast number of organisations doing good work.
Although the sums
The recent UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria was arguably a vital step towards the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to 5.6 million Syrians deemed in “acute need”. Yet shortly after the resolution was unanimously adopted, the Syrian Government
As we witness the slaughter of civilians in yet another part of Syria – most recently, the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta – the country appears to enter the endgame of the confrontation between the regime and an array of rebel groups.
But new battles await. Syria is increasingly
A little over a year ago, after the fall of eastern Aleppo in Syria, I asked “What exactly did the defence of East Aleppo achieve?”:
Surely it was apparent from the time the encirclement was completed and the attempt to break the siege failed that only one outcome was possible: the defeat
Last month, France hosted the launch of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. The effort is aimed at holding to account individuals and groups in the Syrian Government responsible for chemical weapons attacks, and to deter any possible further use of
The downing of a Russian Su-25 aircraft this week marks the second aircraft lost to MANPADS surface-to-air missiles in six weeks. At the end of December, militants shot down a Syrian L-39 aircraft near Hama.
Russia’s response has been swift and severe, conducting multiple
With the change of administration in Washington came new clarity about US policy on Syria. The admirable, short-term aim was to defeat ISIS.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the organisation that would produce this outcome on the ground, was founded in late 2015 (the '
Politicians have a track record of declaring military victory before it is achieved. Think the 'Mission Accomplished' banner unfurled behind George W. Bush aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on 1 May 2003, after which the war in Iraq continued for another eight years, claiming
Russian President Vladimir Putin was reported this week to have ordered Russian military chiefs to redeploy ‘most’ of Russia’s Syria contingent back home. Exactly what constitutes ‘most', though, is anyone’s guess.
There are reports that Russia
Having vanquished Syria’s rebels militarily, Russia now faces the challenge of reconstructing a durable Syrian state. To convert military victory into a lasting political settlement that benefits it and its allies in Syria, Bashar Assad’s government and Iran, Moscow has moved quickly to
I have written recently about the recklessness of Kurdish leaders in staging their independence referendum. Rather than advance the Kurdish cause, it has probably set it back years, if not decades. Despite its laudable efforts against Islamic State, the Kurdish Regional Government has
Tensions between the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are once again threatening to boil over. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered the military to 'impose security' in and around the oilfields and airport in the province of Kirkuk, a region the Kurds took back from Islamic