U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi during a welcome ceremony at the Ministry of Defense, Baghdad, Iraq, April 18, 2016 (AP photo).
On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to deploy an additional 250 special operations forces to Syria. The increase will bring the total number of U.S. ground troops there to 300, and comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement that 200 more troops are also being sent to Iraq. Both deployments are part of the continuing U.S. war against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), but as the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria has continued to rise, it has raised fears that the United States is being sucked into another military quagmire in the [...]
A Russian soldier on guard in front of a Russian ground attack jet parked at Hemeimeem air base, Syria, March 4, 2016 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).
The words “cease-fire monitoring” are unlikely to create ripples of excitement in a group of military officers or civilian security specialists. Ambitious soldiers hanker after kinetic action, not observing static peace lines. Professional peacemakers associate tending to cease-fires with an outdated, Cold War-era approach to conflict management. This is unfortunate. Making simple cease-fires work is hard, and it seems that neither big powers nor international organizations are much good at it. Over the past week, the cessation of hostilities in Syria has lurched toward collapse, as violence escalated around Aleppo. It may be remarkable that the lull in fighting, which [...]
Iraqi security forces arrest a suspected ISIS fighter during an operation to regain control of Hit, Iraq, April 13, 2016 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).
When the leaders of the self-styled Islamic State (ISIS) take stock of their movement, they must like some of what they see. Affiliates of the group are cropping up across the Islamic world, and the organization has proved adept at recruiting or inspiring alienated young Muslims—many with criminal backgrounds—to commit murder in Europe and North America. But there are also things that must concern the group’s leaders. In the past few months, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have taken back 40 percent of the territory the Islamic State had conquered over the past two years. American airstrikes have killed 25,000 of [...]
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