Policy Analysis

Controlling the Nasib Crossing Is a Game Changer for the Syrian Regime

The imminent opening of Nasib could revitalize commercial trade activities in the Levant. However, the end of the Syrian war should not mean a return to business as usual. The Syrian regime is not taking concrete steps that reflect a tangible change of behavior. The United States and Europe can use the leverage of their sanctions on the Syrian regime to urge Moscow to pressure Assad. However, the regional dynamics might force a new reality as Syria’s neighbors are eager to restore trade and provide relief for their economies. Click here to read my latest analysis.

Policy Analysis

Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Lebanon: The Politics of their Return

Lebanon is ahead of the curve in the process of returning Syrian refugees because the question of who controls the border area has been resolved, but there are logistical and political challenges ahead. Jordan could either face a new refugee crisis or see a swift return of refugees if the outcome in southwestern Syria serves Jordanian interests. No matter what happens in the coming months, a large-scale return is unlikely in either Jordan or Lebanon. The return process will not be completed overnight and will take years. Click here to read my latest policy analysis.

Policy Analysis

The Damascus-Aleppo Highway and Stabilizing Northwest Syria

The imminent reopening of the Damascus-Aleppo M5 highway is a milestone in the 17-month Astana process that started in January 2017 and is spearheaded by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. While these influential powers are enforcing new dynamics in northwestern Syria, they are also normalizing an irregular situation that could ultimately renew confrontations between rival parties on the ground. Click here to read my latest policy analysis.
Policy Analysis

A Mysterious Strike Renews Israel-US Coordination in Syria

American and Israeli airpower cannot go far without ground support. While Israel is primarily concerned about Iran, the United States is focused on setting red lines for Russia’s role in Syria. Israel used the anger toward the Syrian regime’s Duma attack to settle scores with Russia and Iran. The White House should caution against an Israeli attempt to entangle the United States in the Syrian war for the wrong reasons. Click here to read my latest on the looming US strike on Syria.

 

Policy Analysis

Firing Tillerson Leaves US Diplomacy in Limbo

President Donald Trump’s decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson represents the climax of nearly 15 months of the president’s disparagement of the agency charting US foreign policy. While mistrust and disrespect have animated his dealings with his former chief diplomat––whose experience in world affairs was limited to the private sector ––the ouster comes at a particularly sensitive time in US foreign policy. Click here to read my latest analysis on the firing of Tillerson.

Policy Analysis

A Saudi Comeback to Lebanese Politics?

Nearly 100 days after his mysterious “captivity” in the Saudi capital, Lebanese Prime Minister  Saad Hariri visited Riyadh again on February 28. The timing could not have been more critical as Lebanon is currently gearing up for a legislative election in May and Hariri is shaping his electoral alliances across the country’s 15 electoral districts. However, the lack of clarity about what was agreed on during this visit left the door wide open for speculation about its potential impact on Hariri’s relations with Riyadh and on Saudi influence in Lebanon. Click here to read my latest analysis on Lebanon.

Policy Analysis

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 on the sacking of Tillerson and what it means for US foreign policy.

Policy Analysis

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.

Policy Analysis

Will Trump’s Jerusalem Move Unravel US-Jordanian Relations?

The US-Jordanian partnership has been strained and tested since the December 6 decision of President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and start plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Vice President Mike Pence is due in Jordan on January 21 in an attempt to contain the fallout of the past four weeks. There is anxiety in Amman that Trump might neither understand nor tolerate Jordan’s diplomatic offensive against his controversial decision, which could ultimately harm US-Jordanian relations. In fact, Jordan’s King Abdullah II is now simultaneously facing difficult relations and conflicting interests with the leaders of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Read here my latest analysis on US-Jordan relations.