The battle for Mosul inches forward

So far, Islamic State forces have stopped short of using civilians as a buffer between its and the advancing Iraqi military

The battle for Mosul inches forwardThe campaign to liberate Mosul, Iraq, now in its 12th week, has gone about as expected – Islamic State forces are not leaving their stronghold quietly. Iraqi forces, backed by Sunni militias and Kurdish Peshmerga units, have steadily advanced into the eastern half of Mosul. At the same time, Shiite militia units have besieged the town…

The legacy of the Arab Spring is chaos and civil war

The political instability accompanying the Arab Spring has created spaces where jihadist groups can flourish

The legacy of the Arab Spring is chaos and civil warOn Dec. 17, 2010, a street vendor in Tunis named Mohamed Bouazizi immolated himself in protest of the arbitrary seizure of his vegetable stand by a local government official. That act triggered the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and a wave of public unrest throughout the Middle East that came to be called the “Arab Spring.”…

Turkey is the Middle East’s newest rogue actor

Erdogan asserts that his government has a right to a sphere of influence over the region that once made up the Ottoman Empire

Turkey is the Middle East’s newest rogue actorTurkey's rogue role in the battle for Mosul suggests it wants to permanently upset the balance of power in the region. Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan has been insisting the Turkish military should take part in the liberation of Mosul. Turkish troops are already in northern Iraq. The Turkish force in the Iraqi town of Bashiqa,…

Emboldened Putin rolling over feckless Obama

To the KGB-schooled “hard men” of the Kremlin, dealing with the Obama administration is akin to taking candy from a baby

Emboldened Putin rolling over feckless ObamaThe Syrian ceasefire has collapsed. At best it survived 48 hours. In reality it was stillborn. The UN Security Council is expected to take up a resolution in the next few days calling for a new ceasefire, but given Russia’s veto on the Security Council, the deliberations will go nowhere. Perhaps it’s time for U.S. Secretary…

Mustard gas – the original WMD – is set to stage a return

After an absence of almost a century, mustard gas is about to return to the modern battlefield

Mustard gas – the original WMD – is set to stage a returnA little more than 100 years ago, at the Second Battle of Ypres, the German Army unleashed the first large scale use of poison gas on the Western Front. Following a two-day bombardment, the German Army simultaneously released 168 tons of chlorine gas over a four-mile front. The panic that resulted opened a four-mile gap…

Mosul’s fate can only be devastatingly tragic

The liberation of Mosul is going to be the bloodiest, most bitterly-fought urban campaign since Stalingrad

Mosul’s fate can only be devastatingly tragicThe battle for Mosul will end in tragedy for hundreds of thousands of the city's inhabitants. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi recently told the UN that the campaign to liberate Mosul would begin within weeks. He predicted victory by year’s end. U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has confirmed an imminent campaign. The…

Yet another Syrian ceasefire without good prospects

Even if the U.S. succeeds in rolling back the Islamic State, one or more rebel alliances committed to Sharia law will rise up in its place

Yet another Syrian ceasefire without good prospectsU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have announced another ceasefire in the Syrian civil war. The end result is unlikely to be positive. Ostensibly, the purpose of the ceasefire is to allow aid convoys from Turkey to bring badly-needed supplies to the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo. Some 250,000 people…

Turkey incursion upends Syrian battlefield

The objective is to prevent the seizure of the portion of Aleppo province by U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces

Turkey incursion upends Syrian battlefieldTurkish military forces have crossed into Syria to oust Islamic State (IS) militants from the border area. The first objective was Jarabulus, an IS stronghold along the Turkish-Syrian border. It has been used to bring jihadists into Syria and smuggle out antiquities and oil. The Turkish intervention, dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, is being supported by U.S. and…

Turkey and Egypt: a tale of two coups

The coups may have ended differently, but both are consequential for Middle East stability

Turkey and Egypt: a tale of two coupsThe eastern Mediterranean has witnessed two coups in the last three years: Egypt’s on July 3, 2013, and Turkey’s on July 16, 2016. In both, the military opposed a president committed to the steady centralization and Islamization of the country’s government. Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) had…

Reining in Iran: Middle East politics at a crossroads

If the arc of Iran's influence grows, on the strength of new nuclear capacity, the whole dynamic in the region will change

Reining in Iran: Middle East politics at a crossroadsThe prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the steady expansion of Tehran’s influence, increasingly prompts the reorientation of Middle East politics along a Sunni-Shia axis. A recent report claimed a secret agreement allows Iran to restore “its full uranium enrichment capacity,” on the 10th anniversary of signing the nuclear agreement. The leak came from the International Atomic Energy Agency,…