President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah offers an opportunity to engage in a much needed dialogue about the future of the conflict in Syria and to hear what a strong ally and friend has to say about stability in the region.
Overall, divisions in Al Qaeda's ranks are good news for the United States. While the split will not end the jihadists' terrorist campaigns, it will preoccupy Al Qaeda's leaders and create uncertainty in its ranks.
Over the past month, al Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made a concerted effort to seize the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. The attacks have received a lot of attention, but ISIS does not represent a majority of Iraqi Sunni in Anbar. Many Sunni Anbari leaders continue to reject al Qaeda.
With little chance of a negotiated end to the fighting, the war in Syria is likely to drag on. And even if somehow the bloodshed were to end relatively soon, the war will leave a legacy of odium and thousands of fighters that will threaten the region and beyond far into the future.
The American investment in Syria thus far can be accurately described as timid and minimal. The United States can do more to assist the rebels without directly using American military power or sliding into a strategy of escalation.
Other than as a geographic expression, Syria has ceased to exist, writes Brian Michael Jenkins. With Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah support, Bashar Assad's forces, at the moment, appear to have gained the initiative over a fragmented rebel movement.
If Syrian acceptance of the Russia-backed plan that is supposed to see it give up its chemical weapons turns out to be a stalling tactic — as many believe it is — support for strikes from allies like Norway will be all the more important to the White House, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.
The lethality of the munitions used in Syria point directly to an actor with significant capacities and long experience using chemical weaponry and artillery, writes James T. Quinlivan. And that fingers the notoriously abusive Assad regime, not the outmatched, outgunned and frantically improvising rebels.
The deal the United States and Russia struck to get rid of Syria's chemical weaponry is neither a sign of a sea change in relations nor a victory for one party over the other, writes Olga Oliker. It is, however, something of a testament to diplomacy on both sides.
President Obama made a strong case that the U.S. should take the lead in punishing the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons and actively enforce the near-global ban on these weapons. Now, the possibility of a diplomatic solution to this problem offers an opportunity to improve the request for the authorization of force currently before Congress.
Iran has a strategic interest in opposing chemical weapons due to its own horrific experience during the 1980–1988 war with Iraq. But it also has compelling reasons to continue supporting Damascus. The Syrian regime is Iran's closest ally in the Middle East and the geographic link to its Hezbollah partners in Lebanon.
The international community has once again defined a global standard of “the wicked” against whom sovereign states have a duty to fight, writes Paul D. Miller. Instead of pirates and cannibals, it is war criminals and genocidaires. This appears to be the implicit argument for military action against Syria.
If you want to understand the Obama administration's objectives in Syria, don't just listen to what officials say — watch what they bomb, writes Seth G. Jones. There are at least four sets of potential political objectives. Each is linked to a different set of targets.
Like the measured attacks that may soon strike Syrian targets, America's first military attacks on Serbia, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistan were not aimed at regime change. Their purpose was to retaliate for attacks or coerce changes in policy.
Those arguing for US-led airstrikes based on the premise of preventing a precedent with Iran would only make it easier for Iran and Syria to paint military action against the brutal Assad regime as an Israeli-inspired scheme rather than a regionally and internationally supported option, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.
Syria is Iran's only real state ally in the Middle East. But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's behavior puts Iranian leaders, especially the newly elected President Hassan Rowhani, in a quandary.
It was a year ago that President Obama declared the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government to be a red line that would bring a swift and sure U.S. response. Not acting threatens the credibility not just of Obama's red-line threat, but of all U.S. threats going forward, writes Julie Taylor.
An autonomous Kurdish region that remains an integral part of Syria, even one dominated by the PYD (the Democratic Union, the largest and best organized Kurdish opposition party), would be far less dangerous than one dominated by forces affiliated with al Qaeda. And that should be welcome news to more than just Turkey.
The escalating war in Syria presents a growing threat to the Middle East and the West more broadly. Led by groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (the Victory Front), an al-Qaeda-affiliated organization, Syria is becoming a training ground for foreign fighters and a microcosm of sectarian conflict.
If Hezbollah's participation in the Syrian civil war begins to clearly tip the balance in favor of the Assad regime, the U.S. could face pressure to adjust its position and support efforts to minimize Hezbollah's position in Lebanon.