Since December 2017, at least three North Caucasian battalions in Syria have returned to their bases. While details are murky, recent developments and statements indicate that this could be the beginning of a partial Russian drawdown in Syria.
As another major player in the Middle East, Russia has a constant interest in U.S. activity in the region. Moscow understands that the Trump administration’s policies are still developing, and carefully watched his Middle East tour.
This essay examines the effects of the Saudi-Iran rivalry on Sunni-Shia relations in Pakistan. The essay shows that this rivalry, which has sectarian undertones and is partly responsible for the continuing Syrian civil war, has not only complicated Pakistan's relations with Riyadh and Tehran but has exacerbated Sunni-Shia tensions domestically. Pakistan's predicament has become even more complicated in light of the recent Trump-led Arab Islamic American Summit.
Whenever power is contested in a country—any country—the political fight over who will ascend to the helm provides opportunities for foreign powers to intervene, and in some cases, influence the outcome of the political process.
Al-Qaeda’s central leadership is growing increasingly exasperated at its former Syrian affiliate and is now actively seeking to build a rival movement more loyal to al-Qaeda’s transnational brand and strategic vision.
The three questions that need to be answered to clear up the murky relationship between Iran and the Taliban are: why the change in Iran’s policy; when did this policy change occur; and what is the level of support afforded to the Taliban?
To prevent the Turkey-U.S. alliance from sliding into the abyss, Trump has to offer Erdogan something. He might not accommodate Turkey’s demands on the Y.P.G., Fethullah Gulen or Reza Zarrab, but there are things that he can do to mitigate some of Ankara’s concerns.
At times, the usually reserved Jordanian diplomacy was taken off-guard, forced to recalibrate, and even walk back on certain positions as the country tries coping with Trump’s sudden swerves on Syria, Israel-Palestine, and the war on ISIS.