Middle East update: March 1 2018

SYRIA So far Russia’s plan to open a five hour ceasefire window every day in Eastern Ghouta to allow civilians to leave and humanitarian aid to come in has been a gigantic bust. I know, I was shocked too. The United Nations says the windows aren’t nearly long enough to actually accomplish either of those… Continue reading Middle East update: March 1 2018

Middle East update: December 6 2017

ISRAEL-PALESTINE Donald Trump made it official on Wednesday: he does, in fact, wear adult diapers the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and he has ordered the State Department to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. In making this announcement, he actually tried to suggest that he was advancing the Israel-Palestine peace… Continue reading Middle East update: December 6 2017

Middle East update: September 19-20 2017

IRAQ UPDATE: Some time after I posted this Reuters began reporting that the Iraqis have begun their offensive to liberate Hawijah from ISIS. Disputes with the Kurds, exacerbated by their upcoming independence referendum, were thought to be delaying that offensive indefinitely, but I guess everybody was able to get on the same page enough to get… Continue reading Middle East update: September 19-20 2017

Middle East update: August 2 2017

IRAQ The main issue in Mosul and the rest of Ninewa province continues to be security. ISIS no longer controls any part of Mosul but it still has cells throughout the province, and of course there are other criminal matters (reprisal killings, for example) that require a stable police force of some kind. But Baghdad… Continue reading Middle East update: August 2 2017

Middle East update: July 10 2017

IRAQ Though I am reticent about these kinds of claims, I think it’s safe to say at this point that the Battle for Mosul is over. A day after flying into the city in anticipation of declaring victory over ISIS, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday declared victory over ISIS. The anti-ISIS coalition agrees… Continue reading Middle East update: July 10 2017

Middle East update: June 26 2017

IRAQ The commander of Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service, Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, says the full liberation of Mosul will be over “in a few days,” and given that “few” is a pretty vague term, I guess he’s probably right. The Iraqis estimate that about 350 ISIS militants remain in the Old City, and Assadi… Continue reading Middle East update: June 26 2017

Middle East update: June 22 2017

SYRIA With my focus heavily on the Saudi story yesterday, I feel like I gave short shrift to this Washington Post piece on the Trump administration’s thinking with respect to the next (post-Raqqa) phase of its Syria operations. It’s not that the piece breaks much new ground in terms of what’s happening in Syria–it’s been obvious… Continue reading Middle East update: June 22 2017