Despite significant involvement in Syria, Russia's ability to influence the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is more limited than it may appear.
Iran has signed a historic agreement regarding its nuclear program which will have subsequent effects on its regional clients, particularly Syria.
As violence continues in Yemen, old regional and geographical fault lines are opening up again, undermining Yemen’s unity without offering any realistic alternative to the current borders.
A wide coalition of Syrian rebel groups have announced that they will boycott political talks proposed by the United Nations. Aron Lund interviews Subhi al-Refai on these developments.
Kerry's recent comments about negotiating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sparked controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. But what did he actually say?
Assad seems to be giving up on the reintegration of rebel-held Syria into the state apparatus. Thus, entrenching himself among the militias and what remains of his army, he has precious little left to offer anyone else—no carrot, only stick.
Kurdish-Arab clashes in Syria’s civil war have a history of flaring up violently and then dying down with little fanfare, including in Hasakah. But if the fighting continues, it may have a serious impact on the military balance in the city and the surrounding countryside.
The chances of success for the much-discussed Russian initiative to end the war in Syria seem slim at best—because Moscow has called a peace meeting with only one of the warring parties in attendance.
In recent months, there has been a flurry of diplomatic movement in the Syrian conflict, as Russia and Iran, the two main allies of Bashar al-Assad, are trying to seize the initiative and pave the way for a new political deal.
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.
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.
Leaving Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul in rebel hands could fatally undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s already weak legitimacy as a national leader. But even if the army were to recapture all or most of the rebel-held cities, the Mosul debacle has already dealt a tremendous blow not only to Maliki but to the Iraqi state as well.
If the Syrian regime recaptures Old Homs, it will further cement Bashar al-Assad’s grip on an area of Syria he truly cannot afford to relinquish.
Competing regional agendas continue to drive the two leading Kurdish actors in the region apart and because of this, they cannot agree on a joint policy to aid the Syrian Kurds.
Until Iran and all the other governments currently fanning the flames of war in Syria have accepted that no peace plan can work without a critical mass of armed actors on both sides, Syria’s slow collapse into Somalia-style anarchy will continue.
Syria’s oil and gas resources are too small to be considered a prize in the struggle over the country’s destiny, but energy issues still play an important part in the conflict.
Iran’s approach to power and ideology remains unchanged, and this directly affects its Syria policy. The Rouhani government sees its alliance with Assad in terms of a regional balance of power as well as geopolitics.
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.
Isolating Iran from the Syria peace talks is no longer a realistic option.