As Syria’s crisis descends into an increasingly bloody civil war, emerging fault lines have been reinforced both within the country and across the region. Once a close partner to the Syrian government, neighboring Turkey has now become a wary adversary. Meanwhile, bitter divisions at the U.N. Security Council have all but paralyzed the international community. And even if an intervention were to be approved, it would face serious obstacles. This World Politics Review special report examines Syria’s downward spiral. Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber?Try our subscription […]

In “The Imperial Presidency: Drone Power and Congressional Oversight,” Michael Cohen argues persuasively that the U.S. Congress has abdicated its constitutional and statutory responsibility to reign in the executive branch in matters of national security policy. Then again, few who have been paying attention this past decade — some would say, the past several decades — need much convincing on that point. Yet, while I agree with Cohen that we desperately need Congress to do its job here as a matter of principle, it’s far from clear that it would change our policy. Cohen cites the extraordinary decision to kill […]

With his grip over Syria apparently loosening, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has abandoned the border area between Syria and Turkey, allowing Kurdish militants to take control of several towns in northern Syria. The development heightens the possibility of involvement by Iraqi Kurds as well as by Turkey, introducing new tensions to the Syrian conflict. “Syria is fragmenting, and for the first time in recent history Kurds are taking matters into their own hands,” said Hugh Pope, Turkey and Cyprus project director for the International Crisis Group. Pope explained that it is still unclear whether Syrian Kurds will unite to push […]

Last week, after the United Nations Security Council again deadlocked on the Syrian issue, calls were heard for Western and Middle Eastern powers to pursue a Kosovo-style intervention that would bypass the council altogether to bring about regime change in Damascus. At the beginning of this week, a spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Jihad Makdissi, declared that while the Syrian government would never unleash its previously unconfirmed stockpiles of chemical weapons to suppress the rebellion, it might use them in the event that “Syria faces external aggression.” Just as Syria’s downing of a Turkish RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft in late-June […]

The recent national elections in Libya have drawn attention to the country’s postconflict transition. But overshadowed by the international community’s ongoing failure to contain the crisis in Syria, the positive international role in Libya has gone largely overlooked. The success of Libya’s elections for a National Congress is in part due to the deep engagement of the international community, led by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Bucking the trend of many recent postwar interventions, however, this assistance has not come in the form of a large-scale operation. As such, it may present a new model for postconflict […]

Since the wave of uprisings started rolling across the Middle East some 19 months ago, Israel has looked like the relatively quiet eye of a giant, fast-moving storm. The region’s raging winds of revolution have not battered Israel’s territory with great intensity, but as they whip furiously from one country to another, they are transforming the landscape, demolishing long-standing structures, igniting fires and creating a new level of anxious uncertainty. Israel rightly sees itself as a strong country, but one facing numerous enemies and a growing list of threats. That perception could have major implications. Israel continues to possess on […]

In Lebanon, Summer Resort an Unlikely Refuge for Syrians

Bhamdoun is a summer resort east of Beirut, which is usually popular with Saudi, Kuwaiti, Qatari and Emirati tourists in search of relaxation and the cool mountain air. But this summer, it is serving as a refuge for middle and upper class Syrian families. World News Videos by NewsLook

Much digital ink has been spilled over how cyber and unmanned technologies are changing the nature of war, allowing it to be fought more secretly, more subversively and with greater discretion. But the single biggest shift in the sociology of war in the past quarter-century has been not in the way it is fought, but in the relationship between its grim realities and the perceptions of those on the home front. Indeed, it is precisely the increasing visibility of ordinary warfare due to communications technology that is driving U.S. efforts to redefine the rules of engagement. And ironically, this is […]

In the traumatic months after the attacks of Sept. 11, the United States struggled to understand the new world it faced and to redirect its security strategy away from “rogue states” relying on conventional military power to the shadowy and ambiguous terrorist threat. Some components of the new strategy, such as augmented homeland security and increased assistance to partner states, were obvious and fell easily into place. How to use U.S. military power in an offensive way against terrorism was not so clear. The initial reaction of the Bush administration reflected the old saw that when all one has is […]

On Sept. 30, 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki was riding in a convoy in northern Yemen’s al-Jawf province with several other suspected members of the terrorist group al-Qaida. Awlaki, a Yemeni cleric, had long been on a so-called kill list of terrorist leaders targeted by the U.S. government for elimination. On that day, two Predator drones operating in the skies above fired seven Hellfire missiles, killing Awlaki and, among others, a colleague named Samir Khan. In itself, the killing was simply another skirmish in the 10-year U.S.-led war on terror, which since Sept. 11, 2001, has stretched from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the […]

After key security aides of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were killed in a bombing attack last week, media coverage became saturated with pronouncements of Assad’s “imminent” fall and reports of contingency planning for the collapse of his regime. Trend Lines spoke with Andrew J. Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at WINEP, about the risks, the opportunities and the unknowns of a post-Assad Syria. According to White, the strategic opportunities include “detaching Syria from Iran’s list of allies, getting Syria out of the terrorism business and breaking Syria’s […]

Thanks to the Obama administration’s aggressive use of classified leaks to the press, we are encouraged to believe that President Barack Obama has engineered a revolutionary shift in both America’s geopolitical priorities and our military means of pursuing those ends. As re-election sales jobs go, it presses lukewarm-button issues, but it does so ably. But since foreign policy has never been the president’s focus, we should in turn recognize these maneuvers for what they truly are: an accommodation with inescapable domestic realities, one that at best postpones and at worst sabotages America’s needed geostrategic adjustment to a world co-managed with […]

On Nov. 3, 2002, America began its campaign of targeted killings in nonbattlefield settings. After a year-long manhunt, a fusion of human intelligence assets and signals intercepts pinpointed Abu Ali al-Harithi, an operational planner in the al-Qaida cell that had bombed the USS Cole in 2002, driving in a Toyota SUV in Yemen, near the border with Saudi Arabia. A CIA-controlled Predator drone climbed into position, maneuvered its nose downward and fired a single Hellfire missile, which destroyed the SUV and killed al-Harithi, along with four other Yemenis and Ahmed Hijazi, a naturalized U.S. citizen and ringleader of an alleged […]

On July 7-8, Muslim Fulani herdsmen reportedly attacked Christian Berom farmers in Plateau state in Nigeria’s ethnically and religiously diverse Middle Belt. The violence claimed more than 100 lives, including those of two elected officials, and displaced an estimated 5,500 persons. On July 17, an apparent reprisal targeted a Muslim school in the state capital, Jos. The cycle of Muslim-Christian violence (.pdf) in Plateau dates back to 1994. And though Nigerian authorities have depicted the conflict as primarily local, it aggravates the tone of Muslim-Christian relations across the country and embarrasses the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, which is attempting […]

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