Conflict update: April 28 2017

NORTH KOREA This is kind of late-breaking so I don’t have much detail, but North Korea tested a ballistic missile of some kind early Saturday morning (local time). The test appears to have failed, but failure is just another step toward success, or something. This is definitely a new provocative step by Pyongyang, but as provocations… Continue reading Conflict update: April 28 2017

Conflict update: April 24 2017

SYRIA Bashar al-Assad’s next big target in Syria is retaking Idlib province, into which he and Moscow have cleverly funneled most of the northern rebel forces and a disturbing number of displaced civilians. The Century Foundation’s Sam Heller makes a reasonable suggestion as to what role the West should play when the Idlib fight begins… Continue reading Conflict update: April 24 2017

Conflict update: April 1-2 2017

EGYPT Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is in Washington right now, preparing for his big meeting tomorrow with fellow authoritarian personality Donald Trump. Because I did a TV spot for Alhurra about this earlier today and it’s therefore fresh in my brain, here are a few things they might get to talking about tomorrow. These… Continue reading Conflict update: April 1-2 2017

Conflict update: March 24 2017

TRUMP UPDATE Donald Trump had a not so very great day on the health care reform front, but he does seem to finally be circling around a potential deputy for Rex Tillerson at the State Department–or, in other words, a deputy for Jared Kushner’s deputy: John J. Sullivan, a prominent Republican lawyer who served in… Continue reading Conflict update: March 24 2017

More sectarian fun

At LobeLog, Georgetown’s Shireen Hunter took a deeper dive into the Saudi Grand Mufti’s declaration that Iranians are not Muslim. Of course, there’s no deep theology behind the mufti’s pronouncement; it’s simple anti-Shiʿa bigotry: This belief is neither new nor limited to the Saudis or the Wahhabis. However, as far as I can recall, no… Continue reading More sectarian fun

So what’s Putin’s deal, anyway?

The question at the heart of Russia’s ramped up involvement in Syria is simple: why? What does Russian President Vladimir Putin have to gain from throwing more weight behind Syrian dictator Mayor of Damascus Bashar al-Assad at a time when Assad’s position has never been more tenuous? Why not accept that Assad can’t come out… Continue reading So what’s Putin’s deal, anyway?

Is Russia on the verge of a new Chechen conflict?

A group of Chechen insurgents seized control of buildings in the Chechen capital city of Grozny on Wednesday night, then engaged in a gun battle with police that appears to have killed at least 19, 9 fighters and 10 police officers (nobody with the Chechen Republic seems prepared to say whether there were any civilian… Continue reading Is Russia on the verge of a new Chechen conflict?