In the past three years, Russian influence in Syria has swelled dramatically and Moscow has acquired a new hand to play in regional politics.
Syria is clearly an area where Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is dangerously exposed, at a time when he is already facing growing internal pressure.
Instead of focusing on the institutions of a future Syria, the al-Qaeda aligned Nusra Front is trying to implement a more broadly based Islamic rule of law.
A civil war has erupted within global jihadism and it seems to pass the point of no return. Senior militants and clerics are now lining up to isolate and undermine the Syrian-Iraqi faction known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
A statement released by the top leadership of al-Qaeda asserts that there is no organizational link between the group and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The alliance between Syria’s Arab nationalist and pacifist opposition and its most hardline Kurdish guerrilla movement is possibly nearing a divorce.
The Islamic Front has presented unified positions on a number of issues, but in one case the Islamic Front has had trouble reconciling its stated ideological agenda with political reality—namely, the Kurdish question.
Viewing Lebanon as a transit point for the struggle in Syria and considering its state institutions as legitimate targets may, in due course, fuel the rise of the much-feared Islamic State of Lebanon.
The Hatay region, located on the coast north of Latakia, was originally a part of Syria, but Turkey annexed the region in 1939. While Hatay has made a forceful comeback in Syrian media, nothing suggests that the new rhetoric is indicative of a deeper change in the view that has quietly guided Syrian policy ever since 1939.
The Umma Initiative, launched by Saudi Salafi preacher Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Moheisini, calls for an immediate ceasefire between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other rebels, and the election of a joint arbitration court from a list of ten independent religious scholars.
Most of Syria’s large rebel groups have explicitly distanced themselves from the Geneva talks.
A recent statement authored by a self-described “group of sons of the Muslim Brotherhood” criticizes the organization's leadership handling of politics over the past three years, revealing real grievances
President Bashar al-Assad sent a delegation to Geneva II composed largely of veteran diplomats, politicians, and media specialists. According to the Syrian president, they are going to the talks in order to discuss the best way to “fight terrorism” in Syria.
Much hinges on how Russia and Iran are approached by the Friends of Syria group, which will have to rethink their approach to opposition representation at negotiations and, more importantly, how a transitional process in Syria will unfold in practice.
The United States and Russia should present Syrians of all persuasions with a practical template against which to measure both the regime’s and the opposition’s willingness to find a genuine political solution.
The United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria had a weak mandate, followed passive rules of engagement, and operated within a political six-point plan that was challenging to translate to field realities.
Syrian Kurds fear that the Kurdish issue will be ignored in the Geneva II Syrian peace conference, despite the fact that Kurds control a significant part of northern Syria, including many oil-producing areas.
The Islamic Front argues for social and educational work to help develop the public’s Islamic consciousness, but it rejects the idea that Syrians could ever be allowed to vote on whether to have sharia law, or Islamic law, or to what degree.
On political matters, just as in religious affairs, the Islamic Front has staked out a hawkish position. Its officials say that they are firmly opposed to any peace deal with the regime and seem unwilling to hold talks even on minor matters.
Any attempt to describe the Islamic Front’s ideology is complicated by the fact that even some of its members seem puzzled by it. The member factions still serve under different leaderships, and there is no guarantee that they will be able to coordinate their policies or keep disagreements under control.