Bottom Line Up Front On January 13th, the Turkish military sent reinforcements to the border region with Syria. The move comes as the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has consolidated control over sections of Idlib Province. The HTS defeat of Turkish-backed rebels threatens the cease-fire brokered by Moscow ...

The 19 December announcement by President Trump to withdraw ground troops from Syria was surprising to everyone but should have come as a shock to no one. Here's why: First, ISIS may not be destroyed, but one is hard pressed to suggest that it remains an existential threat to the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 19, 2018, President Trump unexpectedly announced a full withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Syria within the next 30 days. This pronouncement is at odds with the administration’s current strategy, as well as counsel of top military leadership. The Defense Department has strongly ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. will likely maintain an enduring military presence in Syria for years, in an extremely complex operating environment. Washington sees its force posture as necessary to check the expansion of Iranian influence, yet others, like Turkey, Russia, and the Assad regime, view the situation ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At some point today, the U.S. government is expected to release its assessment on the murder of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. President Trump has already minimized the assessment, questioning ‘will anybody really know?’ when asked about the Khashoggi murder ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The most significant U.S. sanctions on Iran—aimed at Tehran’s core energy and banking sectors—went back into effect on Monday November 5. The goal of the re-imposition of sanctions is multifold: to deny the Iranian government the revenue it needs to develop strategic weapons or other ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 19, Saudi Arabia once again changed its official response to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi from a denial to an implausible cover story. The manner in which other countries react to the official version of events from Riyadh is extremely important; Saudi citizens ...

Bottom Line Up Front As the details continue to emerge, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi appears to be a political assassination, potentially orchestrated by the Saudi government. There are reports, given credence by President Trump, that the royal family will seek to blame ‘rogue elements’ for Khashoggi’s murder, however implausible ...

Bottom Line Up Front The disappearance and likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is the latest episode in an on-again, off-again struggle between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been pushing to move his country back into position as the ...

Bottom Line Up Front: On September 7, the leaders of Russia, Turkey, and Iran are scheduled to meet in Tehran to discuss the Syrian civil war and the pending campaign to retake Idlib. Turkish President Recep Erdogan hopes the summit can forestall an all-out regime offensive in Idlib, where Turkey ...

Iran hasn’t been the only target of U.S. sanctions in the past week.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered retaliatory sanctions again two unnamed U.S. officials after the U.S. ordered sanctions against two Turkish ministers last week.  That action came in response to Turkey’s refusal to release North Carolina pastor ...

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is in Washington for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  On the Agenda are a number of important strategic issues among the NATO allies, including U.S. support of the Syrian Kurdish YPG - a group deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, as well ...

Bottom Line: The U.S. teamed with Kurdish forces to oust ISIS from its self-declared caliphate in Syria in Iraq, but now Washington’s continued support for Kurdish militias in Syria has strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey, which remains immersed in a longstanding feud with its sizable, domestic Kurdish minority. ...

Turkey has had considerable military success in its two-month old campaign against the Syrian Kurdish militia in the northwest Syrian border province of Afrin, but final victory may be difficult given realities in Syria. The U.S., now working better with Turkey on Syria since a January low point, could help ...

Bottom Line: Although the U.S. and Turkey engage in robust cooperation on the political, military, and economic fronts, Ankara has experienced significant changes under the leadership of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which threaten the foundations of this relationship. Ties between the U.S. and Turkey have become increasingly strained in ...

The Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has exacerbated existing tensions between Turkey and Israel, only 18 months after the two countries reconciled. Bucking years of precedent by the international community, President Donald Trump’s announcement provoked wide criticism and prompted an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Istanbul. Turkish ...

Limited visa services will resume between the United States and Turkey after they were halted last month following the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee in Istanbul. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a statement on Monday saying it has received “high-level assurances" from Turkey that no other employees are ...

On Sunday, the U.S. embassy announced the suspension of Turkish visa applications for the U.S., stating that “recent events…have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission facilities and personnel.” In retaliation, the Turkish government suspended its own ...

On Sunday, the U.S. embassy announced the suspension of Turkish visa applications for the U.S., stating that “recent events…have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission facilities and personnel.” In retaliation, the Turkish government suspended its own ...

Relations between Turkey and the United States have hit a new low point with tit-for-tat visa suspensions after the arrest of a U.S. embassy employee. "The last time bilateral ties between the two countries hit a crisis point like this would be late 1970s, in the aftermath of the Cyprus ...

Today, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq is holding a historic referendum on Kurdish independence. Kurds are widely expected to overwhelmingly vote Yes, a result that threatens once again to undermine the fragile Iraqi state – split between Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish regions – and is causing consternation throughout ...

Syria's Kurds – led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military arm the YPG – have received much attention for their role as the cornerstone of U.S.-allied local forces fighting ISIS. However, as their battlefield successes continue, the PYD is building a miniature independent state in northern Syria ...

  Syria’s Kurds are best known for the role that their military arm, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), currently play as the military backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – allies of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition in Syria who provide the majority of ground troops in the campaign. These ...

As the ISIS “Caliphate” in Syria and Iraq faces annihilation in coming weeks, the U.S.  must rethink relations with its highly problematic but effective ally in the ISIS fight – the Syrian Kurdish PYD – which controls the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) –a joint Kurdish-Sunni Arab militia that has ...

President Donald Trump and the Emir of Kuwait – one of two Gulf countries that has not cut ties with Qatar – said in a joint news conference at the White House on Thursday that the boycott of Qatar by its Arab neighbors will soon be resolved. Trump even announced ...

Qatar announced on Thursday it is restoring full diplomatic ties with Iran. “The state of Qatar expressed its aspirations to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields,” the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that Qatar’s ambassador will return to Iran after a ...

  Relations between Turkey and the European Union – already fraught – have deteriorated swiftly over the last few months. In June, the refusal of Turkish officials to allow German parliamentarians to visit their troops stationed at the Incirlik air base in southeastern Turkey, who are part of the fight ...

Turkey’s relations with the EU and place within NATO have come under increased scrutiny over the past year, especially during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's campaign to win a constitutional referendum this April, which many saw as a power grab. Now, a row over the access of German parliamentarians to ...

In the run up to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's campaign to win a constitutional referendum this April, rhetorical vitriol between Turkey and EU countries reached historic highs, including accusations that Dutch and German politicians were “Nazi remnants.”. Now, a row over the access of German parliamentarians to Turkey's critical ...

The Iraq-Syria border has emerged in recent months as the hottest piece of real estate in the multi-sided struggle between the Islamic State (ISIS), anti-ISIS fighters, and Iran’s militia proxies. Why is this? I’ve stood on the Iraq-Syrian border many times and it is not much to look at. Empty ...

The Fund For Peace’s 2017 Fragile States Index paints an alarming, but justified, picture of Turkey: it is declining dramatically in most areas measured by the index. Turkey saw drops in security, fractionalized elites, group grievances, human rights, and refugees and internally displaced persons. Only the last, refugees and IDPs, ...

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington last week to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump. Despite budding tensions over the Trump administration’s decision to arm the Kurdish YPG (Peoples’ Protection Units) militia in Syria, which Erdogan considers to be a terrorist organization, the meeting largely went off without a ...

Turks went to the polls on Sunday and voted “Yes” in Turkey’s constitutional referendum by a margin of just over 51 percent to nearly 49 percent.   Turkey’s three largest cities, Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, all voted “No.” Major opposition parties have contested the validity of the results, citing concerns that ...

Turkey has a checkered history with democracy. Since adopting a multiparty parliamentary system, the country has suffered periodic military coups – including a failed putsch last July – designed to reassert the control of traditionalist military and political elites. Now, Turkey faces a new attempt to consolidate power, but not ...

Speaking at a rally in Istanbul on March 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan further escalated his ongoing fight with Europe: “Have you [Europeans] not burned and destroyed my mosques? You are fascists, fascists!” Erdogan’s creation of alt-facts, wholesale targeting of all Europeans as “fascists,” and bare knuckles fight with European countries, initially appear ...

Speaking at a rally in Istanbul on March 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan further escalated his ongoing fight with Europe: “Have you [Europeans] not burned and destroyed my mosques? You are fascists, fascists!” Erdogan’s creation of alt-facts, wholesale targeting of all Europeans as “fascists,” and bare knuckles fight with ...

On April 16, Turkey will hold a constitutional referendum, which if passed, promises to transform the country’s governing system. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stands to gain expansive new executive powers - powers that critics say will create a de facto dictatorship in Turkey. For his part, Erdogan has branded ...

Before the civil war, few outside the Middle East had ever heard of Syria’s Kurds. Syria has by far the smallest Kurdish population of the four countries with Kurdish minorities. However, the Syrian Kurds have risen to international prominence as their most powerful political group, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), ...

Syria has by far the smallest Kurdish population of any country with major Kurdish minorities. However, in the last two years, the Kurds of Syria have risen to local, regional, and international prominence. As the civil war grinds on, Syria's main Kurdish political group, the PYD, has become America's principal ...

Relations between Turkey and Europe have been tense for decades. Turkey first applied to the European Economic Community – the European Union’s precursor – in 1987. Turkey has been an associate member since 1963, but the EU still has not offered it full membership, despite the country’s membership in NATO ...

Relations between Europe and Turkey are tense. In the past weeks, Turkey has called the Netherlands “the capital of fascism” and accused Germany of “fascist actions” reminiscent of the Nazi period, after Germany cancelled political rallies aimed at gathering support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his referendum on ...

Turkey’s damaging crisis with Europe is self-generated in large part – a tactic sometimes used by Ankara to create a problem and then hold the other party responsible. Acting the victim also deflects domestic attention from the government’s own accountability and justifies revenge. Turkey is stirring a crisis with the ...

Turkey has once again been very much on Europeans’ minds. This time, the issue has been about the Turkish referendum on April 16 over whether the country moves from its current parliamentary system to an executive presidency. The vote could be close, and the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, needs ...

The so-called “deep state” is like dark matter. There is wide belief in countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Pakistan that it exists, but no one has ever actually seen it. The term has now—rather surprisingly—become a part of the political lexicon in the United States. Among many others, President Donald ...

The term “Deep State” has achieved new popularity in recent weeks, but not in reference to opaque military elites in faraway countries. Today, the term is aimed at the U.S. government itself. In particular, the deep state has become a catchall term, which credits a shadow network of spies and ...

Despite its fearsome codename, Operation Wrath of Euphrates, the campaign by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to capture Raqqa from ISIS has progressed in fits and starts since its announcement on November 6th of last year. However, that changed this month, with the operation appearing to have accelerated and SDF ...

As Iraqi forces close in on ISIS fighters stranded in eastern Mosul - the group's last urban bastion in Iraq - U.S.-backed Syrian rebels are simultaneously closing in on Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State. Supported by coalition weapons, airstrikes, military advisers, and now several hundred U.S. Marines, the ...

On January 28, President Donald Trump signed an order for the U.S. military to review the campaign against ISIS and develop a decisive plan to defeat it within 30 days. Given the threats that ISIS poses to our homeland, our allies, and partners, we argue this is the right approach. However, destruction of the ISIS “state” in Iraq and ...

Russia, Iran and Turkey on Tuesday pledged to jointly enforce the fragile ceasefire in Syria, wrapping up two days of peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. The countries wrote in a statement that they will “seek, through concrete steps and using their influence over the parties, consolidation of the ceasefire” and ...

The December 30 ceasefire in Syria, brokered by Russia and Turkey, has for the most held throughout the country, despite violence undermining the pact.  This ceasefire is the third of its kind attempted within the space of a year. But with backing from Russia and Turkey, as well as seals ...