Quoted in the AP on #Iraq Premier’s decision to reign in Hashd al-Shaabi

  • The Iranian regime’s objective remains to incorporate the (PMF) as an independent formation within the military structure, a la IRGC, to become an Iraqi Revolutionary Guard.
  • Some in Washington and the Arab world are welcoming this Iraqi decree with jubilation but the fact is it will not be implemented without Iranian consent. It actually preserves and legitimizes Iranian influence on the long-term. Click here to read the full article.
Policy Analysis

A US-Turkish Agreement Remains a Challenge in Northeastern Syria

US officials appear to be overselling a potential deal with Turkey on establishing a “safe zone” in northeastern Syria, one they hope could peel Ankara away from Moscow. However, this approach might accelerate the confrontation between Turkish and Kurdish forces in the absence of a clear American strategy in Syria and given the uncertainty in US-Turkish relations. Click here to read my latest analysis.


Quoted in “Arab News” on the continuing escalation in Idlib despite cease-fire claims

  • Russia and Turkey have “irreconcilable interests in Idlib, however, they chose neither to fight if off nor to strike a deal since both scenarios have a detrimental impact on their bilateral relations”.
  • The only way out of the Idlib quagmire is either the shortcut of an unwarranted military solution or the long-term arduous path of conflict resolution.
  • Idlib and the S-400 delivery have become increasingly intertwined and caught up in the US-Russian tensions and Turkey’s attempt to play both sides.
  • “Erdogan is approaching a critical moment next month where he might have to choose between coming under significant US pressure if he officially receives the S-400s and dealing with a Russian offensive in Idlib if the S-400 deal does not go through.

Click here to read the full article.

Policy Analysis

On Lebanese-Israeli Border, US And Iran Are Negotiating

On May 13, while The New York Times reported that the White House was reviewing military plans to attack Iran, a plane carrying the State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield quietly landed in Beirut on an unannounced trip. Heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran did not prevent the US official from rushing to seize a breakthrough as the Iran-backed Hezbollah finally endorsed the Lebanese government’s stance to enter direct negotiations to settle the border dispute with Israel. These negotiations are expected to begin in the coming weeks as the United States and Iran may explore direct talks for the first time since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. Click here to read my latest analysis.

Policy Analysis

Facing Pressure at Home and Abroad, Jordan’s King Shifts Strategy

As Amman prepares to weather the storm of the anticipated US peace initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jordan’s King Abdullah II is shifting his approach to domestic politics by realigning interests with the Muslim Brotherhood and clamping down on his critics. The country’s slow economic growth and persistent regional deadlock are constraining Jordan’s rentier state and the monarchy’s rule, as the kingdom continues to lose the support of its traditional allies. Click here to read my latest analysis.


Will the Trump administration abort Iran’s land bridge to the Mediterranean?

As the showdown between Washington and Tehran escalates elsewhere in the Gulf, Iran is giving high priority to secure, control and re-open al-
Bukamal border crossing, the only Syrian-Iraqi border crossing under its control, to solidify its influence in the Levant and mitigate the impact of US sanctions. The question remains, however, whether Iran will pull off this move and how the Trump administration might react? Click here to read my latest for al-Monitor.


Are Russia and Turkey making deals or parting ways in Syria?

By now it is clear that “trying to have it all” might not be the best strategy for Turkey to pursue. In the foreseeable future, it might have to decide whether its priority is a deal east or west of the Euphrates River, and most importantly whether it should give up Tel Rifaat, Manbij or Idlib and at what price. If the US doubles down on its stance on the S-400, Turkey may also be forced to choose between US sanctions that undermine the Turkish economy or a Russian offensive in Idlib that weakens Turkish influence in Syria. Click here to read my latest op-ed.

Policy Analysis

Trump versus Biden: US Politics and the Middle East

Since formally announcing his presidential bid on April 25, former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged in recent polls as the leading Democratic contender to square off with President Donald Trump. The two men are already testing their messages and setting the stage for the major themes that will dominate the 2020 presidential elections. This article explores the factors that would drive their campaigns if they emerge as the two presidential contenders, and most importantly, how they compare on major US foreign policy issues, most notably regarding the Middle East. Click here to read my latest analysis.