Tag Archives: Turkey

US Policy in Syria: A Series of Grudging Half-Measures

The president of the United States is fond of talking off the top of his head.

Donald Trump sees his ability to make off the cuff statements on important matters of policy as an essential element of his appeal.

He would not want to appear overly rehearsed, or even too well-briefed. After all, he needs to be seen to speak his mind. Too much preparation, too much outside information, interferes with this formula. Continue reading

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ISIS, Insurgent and Resurgent

The Islamic State (IS) has been militarily defeated in its attempt to create a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. Its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria were wrested from the terror group after long, grinding campaigns fought by local forces with extensive international assistance.

After the rapid capture of Tal Afar and a pocket around Hawija from IS last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the war against IS was over, that it had been won. Continue reading

Fair-weather Friends

Turkey’s campaign to capture the Syrian-Kurdish district of Afrin appears to be entering its final stages. The complete encirclement of Afrin city itself by Turkish forces and their Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel allies is reported to be imminent, with just two villages yet to be taken, according to FSA sources. Continue reading

Turkey’s Limited Victory in Afrin

When Turkey began its campaign against the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria, undertaken in tandem with selected Syrian rebel groups, global condemnation followed.

Operation Olive Branch, as it is ironically called, met with fierce criticism from the beginning. Continue reading

New Rebel Coalition Joins Syria’s Splintering War

The Syrian Liberation Front (JTS), a newly formed insurgent coalition in northern Syria, was conceived in and exists for war.

Formed by an agreement between the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and the more ideologically flexible Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, JTS was bolstered by defections from other, smaller Islamist factions. Continue reading

Covering the Ground

Review – Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars by Jonathan Spyer

As the violence of the Syrian civil war increased, and as the Islamic State group (IS) crossed the Iraqi border, it was clear that the wars in these two countries would become the essential conflict of our times. Continue reading

Eastern Ghouta’s Doomed Ceasefire

In theory, in the middle of a ruinous civil war, a ceasefire is held to be a good thing. Ceasefires are meant to herald a cessation of hostilities. During the ensuing period, there ought to be a lull in violence; in this interval the dead can be buried, the wounded can be tended to, the ill given aid, and the hungry fed. Continue reading