The Revolutionary Command Council has arrived in a time of crisis for Syria’s rebels. If it survives its formative period without major splits, it may well establish itself as the new political framework for most of the Syrian opposition.
The refugee influx, fighting along the Lebanese-Syrian border, and the intervention of Lebanese Shia and Sunni Islamists on opposite sides in Syria’s civil war have all contributed greatly to the withering of Lebanon’s already precarious stability.
By arguing against Iraqis being drawn into cross-border sectarian struggles, Muqtada al-Sadr has positioned himself as an important voice of reason within the Shia community that dominates Iraq.
Ahrar al-Sham has long been seen as one of the “swing voters” of the Syrian insurgency, and it may turn out to be pivotal in the current struggle for northwestern Syria.
U.S. fighter jets, bombers, and drones have recently struck several targets in the Sarmada region of Idlib Province in northwest Syria, near the Turkish border. The targets of the attack have proven to be both disputed and controversial.
With the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front consolidating its control over key regions in Idlib, the group now appears to be the single strongest faction in northwestern Syria, shifting the power on the ground.
By seizing Sanaa and its security apparatus, the Iran-linked Houthis have imposed a new political reality in Yemen. But to secure their influence, they will eventually need to seek accommodation with Saudi Arabia.
Most Islamic State fighters on the ground are local Syrians and Iraqis. Many of them are conservative and religious, but the vast majority are not ideological Salafi-jihadis.
The outcome of the battle for Kobane will have significant implications for the fight against the Islamic State and developments in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq moving forward.
The contribution of Gulf Arab countries in the fight against the Islamic State should not be overstated and should be caveated with an awareness of the risks and costs—for both the Gulf regimes at home and U.S. interests in the region.
The “Khorasan Group,” a network affiliated with al-Qaeda, has been a target of recent U.S. bombing in Syria. The sudden flurry of revelations about the group in the past two weeks smacks of strategic leaks and political spin.
In the struggle against the Islamic State, Egypt needs sound political and economic policies that will quench the spread of violence and extremism within the country itself.
Ever since the Islamic State captured vast territories in northern Iraq in mid-June, no group has been more deeply affected by this jihadi civil war than the Nusra Front, which broke off from the Islamic State in April 2013 and has since emerged as Syria’s only official al-Qaeda franchise.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s four-pronged strategy against the Islamic State is fraught with trade-offs, risks, and hidden costs that need to be addressed.
Obama’s strategy is a positive step forward after years of relative inaction on part of the United States, but it is far from comprehensive.
The killing of Ahrar al-Sham’s leadership will have major ripple effects in the opposition.
Since the militarization of the Syrian uprising, Raqqa has been a strategically vital region for all armed groups. Now under the control of ISIS, Raqqa has become a hub where ISIS militants are gathered and dispatched to other battlegrounds across the country.
As the armed conflict between jihadists groups and the Syrian Kurdish militia moves into Arab-majority territories, both sides have increasingly relied on support from local Arab tribes to tip the balance.
Divisions over the formation of the Syrian Islamic Council suggest that the Syrian opposition will have to wait to see the emergence of a unified Sunni religious authority within its ranks. However, these divisions are revealing of fault lines that may play a major role in Syria’s future.
The establishment of the Syrian Islamic Council may be an important step toward the goal of consolidating a moderate Islamic axis within the opposition in the face of the large Salafi military factions.