The Century Foundation: “Turkey’s ‘Turkey First’ Syria Policy”

New paper from me for The Century Foundation, on the evolution of Turkey’s agenda in north Syria and its implications for the Syrian opposition:

“Turkey’s ‘Turkey First’ Syria Policy”

More than ever before, the Syrian opposition depends on Turkey’s support – yet Turkey has never been more preoccupied with its own security ends, not fighting the Assad regime. The opposition’s future hinges on Turkey’s strategic success or failure, but Turkey, which has burned through most of its best options and damaged its key relationships, may itself be at an impasse.

Based on my last trip to Turkey – including Istanbul, Ankara, and along the southern border – I’ve tried to lay out the Turkish outlook as I understand it, and what it means for Syrians inside Turkey and just across the border inside the Syrian north.

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War on the Rocks: “Syria: A Journey Into the Unknown”

New from colleague Michael Wahid Hanna and I for War on the Rocks about the balancing act of U.S. intervention in Syria:

“Syria: A Journey Into the Unknown”

Last week’s U.S. missile strike, as it was executed and messaged, seems to have been meant to discourage the regime from further chemical weapons use – not to commit America to an unlimited escalation, or to some vague and impracticable goal of regime change.

But Trump Administration officials have already muddied this message in the media, and there’s a serious risk that America’s allies and adversaries could get confused. There’s also a danger that some forward-leaning politicians and talking heads may retroactively cast this strike as something more expansive and get the United States in trouble.

Michael and I argue the strike may yet achieve a defined, positive good – but the United States is going to have to resist the impulse to turn it into something that it’s not.

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Foreign Affairs: “Syria Policy After the Chemical Attacks”

New from me for Foreign Affairs:

So America might intervene in Syria now?

“Syria Policy After the Chemical Attacks”

I have mixed feelings about U.S. military action in Syria. But if it’s about to happen, then any U.S. action should have clear, narrowly defined deterrence objectives, and it should be deliberately delinked from the broader Syrian war. U.S. intervention shouldn’t be aimed at a negotiated transition in Syria or any variation on regime change – goals that weren’t viable on Monday and, days later, aren’t now.

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The Century Foundation: “Four Perspectives on Syria, Round II”

New at The Century Foundation: TCF colleagues Aron Lund, Thanassis Cambanis, Michael Wahid Hanna and I return for another wide-ranging Syria roundtable.

Four Perspectives on Syria, Round II

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The Century Foundation: “Syria’s Former al-Qaeda Affiliate Is Leading Rebels on a Suicide Mission”

New from me for The Century Foundation:

Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate and a set of hardline allies have taken over the country’s rebel-held northwest, the last bastion of determined opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. They’re apparently convinced they can reverse the rebellion’s downward trajectory and kneecap “defeatists” within the opposition who might settle for anything less than toppling the regime. And they think they can rebalance the opposition’s lopsided relationships with its foreign backers, forcing countries like Turkey and the United States to engage them on their terms.

They’re wrong. And by hijacking Syria’s armed opposition and placing its core under unambiguous jihadist control, they’ve likely sealed its fate.

“Syria’s Former al-Qaeda Affiliate Is Leading Rebels on a Suicide Mission”


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الجمهورية: “دفاعاً عن العمل الصحفي في سوريا الأسد”

ترجمة لمقاتلي بموقع “الجمهورية” عن ضرورة نقل الواقع من مناطق النظام السوري رغم القيود على عمل الصحفيين والمحللين:

“دفاعاً عن العمل الصحفي في سوريا الأسد”

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Al-Jumhuriya: “The Case for Reporting from Assad’s Syria”

In a new piece for al-Jumhuriya, I argue – contra some opponents of “normalization” – that we need more journalists and analysts reporting from inside Assad’s Syria. The reality inside Damascus and other areas under regime control is an increasingly relevant part of the Syrian story, and something about which we know disconcertingly little.

Better visibility on conditions under Assad and original reporting on the human experience of Syrians in these areas is in everyone’s interest. That includes supporters of the opposition, who need to rely on independent reporting, not polemic, if they’re going to stay relevant in a shifting Syria debate.

“The Case for Reporting from Assad’s Syria”

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