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.
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.
While the US decison to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is primarily being explained away with geopolitics, it, in fact, has much more to do with US domestic politics. With this move, President Donald Trump aims to cement the gradual shift in partisan support of Israel from the Democrats to the Republicans and rally evangelical Christians around his presidency. Click here to read my latest op-ed.
The latest buzzword in Lebanon is combating corruption. Nearly every political party, most notably Hezbollah, is preaching this mantra. The Lebanese public and international donors are complaining about political corruption, as the country grapples to survive a grave economic and fiscal crisis. Yet there are questions concerning the depth and seriousness of these efforts. Click here to read my latest on Lebanon.
The Trump administration’s strategy of linking a flawed Israeli-Palestinian deal to an Arab-Israeli alliance to deter Iran might undermine these two US objectives in the Middle East and might even backfire against US allies and interests in the region. Click here to read my latest op-ed.
Over the past two decades, three high-ranking US officials have gone to Cairo to lay out their vision for the US foreign policy in the Middle East. Each time, they have criticized their predecessors and each time nothing good has come out of it. Click here to read my latest op-ed.
The Trump administration has a lot to explain in the coming weeks regarding the timeline of this withdrawal and what US allies should expect moving forward. An imminent US withdrawal without setting the necessary conditions might lead to a backlash or in the worst-case scenario – an open confrontation between Turkish and Kurdish forces. The US had no strategy of how to stay in Syria, now it is clear it has no strategy of how to leave. Click here to read my latest op-ed.
Historically, the midterm elections in the US have often changed the power dynamics between the White House and the Congress, which has prompted US administrations to modify their approach to foreign affairs. In the recent past, there have been a number of such important foreign policy developments that have taken place as a result of electoral setbacks during the midterms. Click here to read my latest op-ed.
The interest of both Moscow and Ankara remains for now to avoid a war in Idlib, but these circumstances might change. One wild card is the fallout of the October 2 killing of Saudi commentator Jamal Khashoggi, as one of its unintended consequences has been the US-Turkish rapprochement. It remains to be seen how the renewed ties with Washington will impact Ankara’s relations with Moscow. Meanwhile, Turkey is expanding its military and political role in Idlib, which will make the Syrian regime offensive an even more difficult objective to achieve. Without a long-term political settlement of the Syrian conflict, resolving the pending status of Idlib might be a military one. Click here to read my latest op-ed.
While former US allies are already building mechanisms to circumvent the need to deal with Trump, neither they, nor international institutions like the UN are likely to confront him. In the end, it is going to be up to the American voter to restrain Trump’s unilateral adventurism. Click here to read my latest op-ed.