By Barbara Slavin When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to the White House next week, he is likely to find common ground with its new occupant on at least one topic: Iran. Tough rhetoric by the Trump administration, coupled with new sanctions over missile tests and Iran’s inclusion in a controversial travel ban, signals […]
“VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussion and opinion on these policies.” — VOA Charter
By Barbara Slavin Turkey is accustomed to political violence. Coups and assassinations were common in the 1970s and 80s; in the 90s, a war broke out between Kurdish separatists and government forces that devastated southeastern Turkey and led to terrorism in major Turkish cities. But there is something particularly depressing and ominous about the spate […]
Neither Russia nor Turkey has any interest in blowing this out of proportion. Rapprochement between the two countries has been coming along nicely after relations hit rock bottom following Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian fighter jet more than a year ago, and both sides have more to gain by having the relationship staying on track…
If there is a lesson for the West from the post-Cold War era of liberal interventionism, it is this: Either intervene decisively and be invested for the long term — or stay out.
By Barbara Slavin Students of the Middle East learn quickly that in that chronically unstable part of the world, things can always get worse and frequently do. This Christmas season, as millions around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the prospects for peace on earth in the region of his birth are non-existent […]
In a sitting room off a large marble foyer, I asked Assad what it felt like to be branded a war criminal. “There’s nothing personal about it—I am just a headline,” he said.
By Barbara Slavin In these nail-biting days until U.S. presidential elections next week, it is easy to fall into despair about the state of American democracy. Following disclosure that the FBI is taking a renewed look at emails possibly connected to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private server, polls have narrowed, suggesting a still-plausible path to victory […]
The operation to retake Mosul from Islamic State forces is proof of the quote “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”
Just ten days into the Mosul offensive, military planners are accelerating their timeline to try to take the Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS’ self-proclaimed capital, because they’re seeing lots of traffic going from Mosul to Raqqa.
Complicating matters are the various alliances and interests of U.S.-led coalition partners that intersect and overlap with one another. For example, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would be helpful in any coalition move on Raqqa. But Turkey sees the SDF in alliance with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the United States classifies as a terrorist organization.
Meanwhile, Turkey wants a role in the Mosul operation to protect the rights of ethnic Turks there. Iraq’s prime minister has ruled that out.
About 30,000 Iraqi troops along with about 3,000 Kurdish peshmerga forces are on the front lines of the Mosul offensive. The U.S. has as many as 200 special operations troops on the ground embedded in an advise and assist role and is leading the coalition air support.
Perhaps the most critical job the U.S. has is keeping the disparate factions focused on the mission and avoiding diplomatic distractions.
Turkey’s growing instability is imperiling American operations. During the failed coup, Incirlik’s external power was cut off for a week, halting anti-ISIS operations from the air base for several days, limiting them for several more, and increasing the loads on other regional bases. This is unacceptable.
One can make a coherent case for intervening in Syria, based on the worthy goal of reducing human suffering. But we should reject the idea that the United States should intervene because its own security, prosperity, or reputation is on the line. It’s not.
We can’t keep responding to attacks the same way and expecting a different result. There is a better way to counter terrorism, and a more effective model that we can adopt, but first government officials must abandon failing strategies.
By Barbara Slavin The Washington foreign policy establishment is salivating at the thought of a Hillary Clinton presidency, which promises to be more interventionist than Barack Obama’s administration and more open to elite views than a Donald Trump White House would be. Think tanks are churning out papers on a variety of topics and pushing them […]
After more than five years of conflict in Syria, retreating without having found a solution is not an option. Although the new map of players complicates things, there is no doubt that they must all participate in a peace deal; otherwise, any agreement will prove ephemeral.
The drone threat is expanding….Numerous public reports have revealed the use of drones by narco-terrorists to target border agents, drones used to sneak weapons into prisons and drones being used for artillery spotting by ISIS militants.
These maps purport to show the borders laid out in Turkey’s National Pact, a document Erdogan suggested the prime minister of Iraq should read to understand Turkey’s interest in Mosul. Signed…after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I, the National Pact identified those parts of the empire the government was prepared to fight for.