Op-Ed

Why is the US pulling out of Syria?

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.

Op-Ed

Will the midterm elections affect Trump’s Middle East strategy?

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.

Op-Ed

A confrontation in Idlib remains inevitable

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.

Op-Ed

Trump’s secret cabal on Iran at the State Department

No one excels more than a Washingtonian at coming up with fancy words that turn a dull bureaucratic day job into a stimulating venture and might occasionally trigger a global panic. Announcing the “Iran Action Group” (IAG) at the US Department of State on August 16 was one of these moments meant to bewilder watchers of the American bureaucracy under President Donald Trump. Click here to read my latest op-ed.

Op-Ed

What will Trump and Putin agree on at the Helsinki summit?

 

But despite these fears, no real breakthrough in US-Russian relations should be expected until Special Counsel Robert Mueller finalizes his investigation. Lifting US sanctions on Russia, recognizing its annexation of Crimea, and pulling US troops out of Eastern Europe are all off the table for the Helsinki summit; Trump’s hands are tied by US domestic politics. The only issue on which he can concede to lure in the Russian president is the Syrian war. Trump will give up Syria to Putin the way Gorbachev left Iraq to Bush in 1990. Click here to read my latest op-ed. 

Op-Ed

In southern Syria, the US faces a Russia-Israel challenge

Both Washington and Moscow are pressuring their Syrian allies not to escalate. The Syrian regime deployment is meant to strengthen the Russian negotiation position and is restricted to the Jordanian border area only at this point, which means the Russian-Israeli agreement is yet to fully materialize No matter what scenarios might unfold, the US has two options to become relevant once again in southwest Syria: to confront or engage Moscow. Otherwise, the US might become a bargaining chip in a looming deal between the rest of the parties involved. Click here to read my latest op-ed.

Op-Ed

Five trends to watch in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections

After five years of delay, Lebanese go to the polls May 6 to elect a new parliament for the first time since 2009. The ultimate objective of this popular vote is to readjust the power representation of the same ruling class and set its rules of engagement for the next four years. The 2018 general elections will be held for the first time under the proportional rather than the majoritarian system, with a revised gerrymandering of 15 districts (as opposed to 26 in 2009). It is safe to argue that the winners of nearly 70% of the seats have been predetermined due to the confessional nature of the political system. The electoral law reflects the current political landscape in Lebanon, where alliances are volatile and no single coalition alone can rule the country. Moreover, these legislative elections are held against the background of two significant developments: the repercussions of the 2016 presidential deal that elected Gen. Michel Aoun, and the volatile situation in Syria next door. Please click here to read my analysis ahead of the May 6 Lebanese elections.

Op-Ed

Jordan, Israel hedge their bets in southwest Syria

Southwest Syria could be the next confrontation zone in Syria’s multiple regional wars. The US-Russian cease-fire agreement is collapsing, except in the buffer zone on the Iraqi-Jordanian border. The Syrian regime and its allies are making their way through to the Nassib border crossing and the Golan Heights. These new dynamics are altering the calculations of Jordan and Israel, while further weakening the armed opposition on the southern front. Click here to read my latest op-ed on how Jordan and Israel are hedging their bets in southwest Syria.