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.

Op-Ed

Tillerson sacking: New dynamics in the Trump Administration

The firing of Tillerson shows that the State Department remains under siege by the White House until further notice. One cannot talk about “Tillersonism” or pin down a list of achievements that are specifically credited to the 69th secretary of state. His legacy is one of challenging the president’s unconventional stances and subsequently paying the political price. Click here to read my latest op-ed.

Op-Ed

Untying the knot of the Israeli attack on Syria

Recent developments in Syria remind us how convoluted the country’s multi-party conflict is. The Syrian regime used Russian made S-200 anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down an American made F-16I retaliating to the intrusion of an Iranian made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Most importantly, however, these developments gave Israel a reality check that it has no allies in this tug of war next door. Click here to read my latest Op-Ed about the Israeli strike in Syria.

Op-Ed

Lebanon gears up for a ‘realignment’ election

 

Political tensions are running high in Lebanon ahead of the anticipated legislative elections in May. The excessive and precarious pandering to voters seems to be the prelude to a post-election realignment of the political system. Now that the Syrian-Saudi influence is no longer present, the post Taif Agreement era needs to be revised, which is a delicate issue stirring tensions among Lebanese leaders. As external pressure might not always be handy to subdue political infighting, the Lebanese Constitution should include the necessary mechanisms to resolve these differences. Recent tensions are a setback and showed that Lebanon is not quite ready yet for self-governance. Click here to read my latest analysis on Lebanon.

 

 

 

Op-Ed

The U.S. Declares Strategic Bankruptcy in Syria

The Trump administration’s attempt to pin down a U.S. strategy in Syria showcases a lack of strategic vision. Capitol Hill had been demanding clarity. Instead, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s speech at the Hoover Institution on Jan. 17 offered no new path for a disoriented U.S. policy. The speech showcased five flawed justifications and conceptions for maintaining open-ended U.S. involvement in Syria. Click here to read my latest on the US strategy in Syria.

Op-Ed

Lebanon’s energy promise could be regional game changer

Three interconnected developments that occurred in December 2017 will have a lasting impact on Lebanon. The Lebanese government made two long overdue decisions: launching the energy exploration process and setting the parliamentary elections date for next May. The third development is a breakthrough that has regional implications: a United Nations-sponsored meeting was held between Lebanon and Israel to discuss for the first time the demarcation of their maritime border. Click here to read my latest piece on energy exploration in Lebanon.