Topic:

Syria

The Nascent Russia-Lebanon Alliance and Israel

| March 23, 2018

Though Russia has been gradually increasing its economic and military influence in Lebanon, it is unlikely that Moscow is prepared to irreparably compromise its relations with Israel. Russia faces competition from other actors in Syria, and good relations with Israel can serve its interests there.

Who Will Reconstruct Syria?

| February 25, 2018

The fighting in Syria, which began in 2011, between President Bashar Assad and the opposition forces, seems to have reached its final stages. It is almost certain that Assad will remain in power. He will be the one to lead Syria in the coming years, and he will have to deal with the reconstruction of the ravaged country. In the interests of the Syrian people as well as the West, including Israel, it is wise to support China in its efforts to lead the reconstruction.

Russia and the Israeli-Syrian-Iranian Confrontation

| February 15, 2018

On February 11, 2018, Israel conducted multiple airstrikes on Syrian-Iranian targets in Syria in response to the downing of an Israeli F-16 in Israeli territory following infiltration by an Iranian drone. Moscow’s mild reaction to these events reflects its desire to maintain cooperation with both Tehran and Jerusalem.

Why Won’t Russia Support the Investigation of Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria?

| January 31, 2018

Because of Russian antagonism, 2018 might see a termination of investigations by an internationally authorized apparatus into chemical weapons (CW) attacks in Syria. There is a tight, if indirect, connection between that termination and the existence of a residual and possibly renewed stockpile of CW in the hands of the Syrian army, which is backed by Russia (and Iran).

Breaking the Syrian Stalemate

| January 11, 2018

As the civil war in Syria winds down, ISIS is eliminated, and the chips begin to fall where they may, the aftermath appears profoundly tangled, with every imaginable interest pitted against all the others. But the situation is not unnavigable. Winners and losers are emerging, and a few wild card players are entering the fray that might disrupt the developing status quo. 

Syria’s Sunni Arabs and Israel: The War’s Silver Lining?

| December 13, 2017

The war in Syria has resulted in many changes to its society, including a perceptible shift in the Sunni Arab majority’s attitude towards Israel. However, that shift remains very limited in scope. Much still needs to be done on both sides of the border to root out the Syrian culture of anti-Semitism.

Moving Westward: The Chinese Rebuilding of Syria

| December 5, 2017

As the Syrian civil war enters its final stages, China appears determined to take on a central role in Syria’s reconstruction. One factor motivating China’s involvement is the presence of a large number of Uighur jihadists among the anti-government forces. Another is the “One Belt-One Road” initiative – a planned attempt to establish and control a modern day Silk Road connecting China, the Middle East, and Europe. The increasingly active role China is playing in Syria might mark a shift in the geostrategic reality of the region. 

Free-Riding Allies are Painful. Free-Riding Enemies are Sheer Folly

| December 3, 2017

The victors in Syria and Iraq – Russia, Iran, Syria, and Turkey – are to meet in Sochi for a conference to discuss a peaceful conclusion to the Syrian civil war. The loser in Syria and Iraq – the US – will be conspicuously absent. The Americans’ adversaries were the beneficiaries of their own campaign against ISIS. Instead of the sheer folly of watching enemies free-ride on US might, the US should have exhausted Iran and Russia in the process of defeating ISIS.

Russia’s Unlikely Withdrawal from Syria

| November 7, 2017

Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian civil war boosted the reputation of the Russian military, afforded it valuable training, and enhanced Moscow’s political clout in both the conflict zone itself and the Middle East more generally. With that said, Syria threatens to become a quagmire for Russia, and Moscow is looking for an exit. This will be difficult to pull off as Russia faces considerable geopolitical constraints.

Russia’s Air Defenses in Syria: More Politics than Punch

| October 18, 2017

As a result of Moscow’s geopolitical considerations in Syria, chief among them the desire to avoid direct confrontation with the US and Israel, Russia’s air defenses in the region have assumed the tasks of political intimidation and reassurance. The Kremlin has issued warnings to both Israel and the US-led anti-ISIS coalition not to strike forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, but Russia is unlikely to attempt to engage Israeli or coalition aerial assets unless its own forces are attacked or the assets approach Russian military installations too closely. Even then, intercepting them will be no easy task. While Russia’s modern air defenses in Syria are formidable, they are not “game-changers.”