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.
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.
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.
Even if the Syrian conflict were to be viewed solely through a security prism, the international community’s tepid response to the humanitarian crisis is counterproductive.
While the eyes of the world are glued to the U.S.-led intervention against the Islamic State, millions of Syrians suffer from a far more serious problem: they fear that they won’t be able to cook their food or keep the cold out of their homes this winter.
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 Syrian refugee crisis is a major driver of violence and political tension in Lebanon. Tolerance for the refugees is gradually turning into resentment.
While Turkey is likely to lend assistance to the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State, the recent parliamentary vote won’t trigger any military action by itself. For Turkey, the top priority is not to join the campaign but to leverage it for other purposes.
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.
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.
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.
There are no indications that Assad is ready to let anyone not under his control join the new government in his third term as president. Genuine power sharing in Syria will remain as distant as ever.
To ask whether the June 3 Syrian presidential election results will lead to any change within the government betrays a misunderstanding of the situation: what just played out in Syria was not an election—it was a demonstration of power in which the presidency was the active subject, rather than the people.
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.
A key objective for Bashar al-Assad in his third presidential term is presenting his crackdown on Syrian opposition groups as a fight against jihadism. In doing so, Assad is betting on the eventual support of the international community in this new “war on terror,” which would secure his position in power.
As fighters join Al Nusra and ISIL at an alarming rate, the Jordanian government responds with new anti-terrorism measures.