Having already coaxed the Syrian regime into attending peace talks in Moscow at the end of January, the Kremlin finds itself unable to convince any significant opposition leader to participate.
By agreeing to the Moscow talks, the Syrian regime is portraying itself as more flexible than the opposition, at a time when the international community has lost patience with the intransigence on both sides.
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.
On Christmas Day, the largest Sunni Islamist rebel groups in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate announced that they have united under a joint command. Whatever strategic choices they make, Syria’s bitterly divided rebels will need all the unity they can get to deal with the challenges ahead.
A military confrontation is building up between two powerful jihadist factions, the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, in southern and southwestern Syria and as the balance shifts, the Islamic State stands poised to grow in new regions.
The resettlement of Syrian refugees is a task best carried out on the basis of need and ability, not by sectarian or ethnic preference.
As the wealthiest members of the international community fail to address the Syrian refugee issue, the number of Syrians in need of resettlement will only keep growing.
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.