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.
Israel could find itself engaged in some local conflicts with Islamic extremists along the border or in a limited conflict with Assad if he decides to retaliate the next time Israel attacks targets in Syria.
The Syrian war has attracted thousands of foreign volunteers who now fight on almost every front.
The double suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed at least 23 people and throws yet more fuel on the smoldering political fires of Lebanon. But what is known about the group behind it?