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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The United States should remain engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and President Abbas’s visit to Europe on January 22 may have provided the Trump Administration with a diplomatic lifeline. Click here to read my latest analysis on the US role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
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.
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.