Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon are finding ways to get by. But many refugees are not able to fully use their skills, and that is a lost opportunity both for the Syrians and the host countries.
Washington's strategy in Syria has been to impose costs on the Syrian government by diplomatic ostracism and economic sanctions. This punitive approach is morally satisfying and politically expedient, but as a practical matter it just helps perpetuate the conflict and sustain Assad's dependency on Iran.
Relying on Turkey to shoulder the burden of countering the Islamic State will provide the terrorist group with an opportunity to revive itself at a critical stage in the fight. Turkey's main focus is on the Kurds and Erdogan's opposition. Eradicating the Islamic State is a secondary priority that has often been ignored.
Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon could better contribute to local economies if they were trained for middle-skill jobs and were able to relocate to areas with manufacturing firms that need trained workers.
Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan have generously received the majority of Syrian refugees. Many are working, but their sheer numbers have strained local labor markets, public services, and social harmony. Which policies might help create new economic opportunities for both the refugees and host-nation workers?
Over 5 million Syrian refugees entered Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan due to the civil war. This has placed a severe strain on the host countries' labor markets, public services, and social cohesion. The future prosperity and stability of the region rests on creating mutually beneficial economic opportunities for Syrian refugees and host-country workers.
The shifting alignments in the Middle East have intensified since the murder of the Saudi journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul. Turkey has drifted away from NATO and toward Iran and Russia. Like Tehran and Moscow, Ankara is now more anti-Western than at any point in recent memory. What does this mean for the United States?
Russian media have employed propaganda strategies to undermine Turkey's political and security cooperation with the United States and Europe. Russian media have also contributed to anti-American discourse in Turkey and have reinforced the Turkish government's propaganda pursuits.
Israel and Turkey have mutual economic interests, such as trade, tourism, and energy. The two countries have usually been able to separate these interests from their political differences, but current relations remain contentious. Israel and Turkey differ on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the future of Syria.
Turkey wants to take credit for the demise of the Islamic State, insisting that Turkey's actions in northern Syria have helped lay the groundwork for a sustainable peace. But the evidence clearly suggests otherwise.
Turkish President Erdoğan is attempting to cement his political legitimacy among Syrian Sunnis by portraying himself as their savior. If the United States withdraws from Syria after the mission to defeat ISIS is complete, it will essentially be ceding the advantage to Erdoğan, who can continue pushing his agenda.
Erdogan's tolerance of ISIS fighters in Turkey amounts to tacit approval. The danger posed by ISIS using Turkey as a staging ground could become more formidable than the threat currently posed by Kurdish terrorism. Tolerating ISIS to fight the Kurds is therefore a dangerous and myopic policy.
President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has exacerbated tensions between Turkey and Israel. Economic interests had provided incentives for thawing relations in June 2016, but separating economic interests from political differences is harder today given the mistrust between Ankara and Jerusalem.
Treating migration from Libya as a border security issue has reduced migration across the Mediterranean. But efforts to keep migrants in Libya are fraught with risks, exacerbate a massive human rights problem, and do not address Libya's long-term economic and political stabilization.
From Vietnam in the 1960s to the Afghanistan of this decade, James Dobbins has been on the frontlines of American diplomacy, working to advance U.S. national interests in some of the world's most difficult and troubled situations. His new book provides a thoughtful insider's account.
RAND's James Dobbins spent five decades on the frontlines of U.S. diplomacy. Now he takes readers behind the scenes of the Vietnam peace talks, the Cold War, German reunification, the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, and more.
While Turkish President Erdoğan and U.S. President Trump emphasized the positive aspects of bilateral relations after their meeting, there remain points of contention. The stakes at this meeting and its outcome are high for both Turkey and the United States, and could mark a major milestone in the relationship.
Russia's use of subversive actions, such as information and cyber operations, threatens U.S. interests in Europe. Addressing this hybrid threat will take time and effort. And any U.S. response must be developed alongside efforts to bolster conventional deterrence.