Making sense of Netanyahu’s Iran policy  

Brian M Downing  Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly warns of Iranian dangers to his country and the region. He tried more than once to persuade the United States to destroy Iranian nuclear sites and mobilized his considerable resources to press the White House into action. Neither of the previous two presidents obliged. Read More …

The Uighur movement and world politics in coming years 

Brian M Downing  Few people had heard of the Tuareg before the wars in Libya and Mali. The Kurds were better known but the fighting in Iraq and Syria brought them to prominence. The Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic people, will make themselves better known in coming decades. Chinese policies and Read More …

Are American troops going to stay in Iraq?

Brian M Downing  In 2008, late in the Bush administration, the Iraqi government ordered the US to withdraw its troops by the end of 2011. The Obama administration was not eager to argue. Nor could it have succeeded had it tried as US troops were fiercely disliked then. Facing a resurgent al Qaeda not Read More …

Can the US and China cooperate in Afghanistan?

Brian M Downing  Concern that North Korea is endangering regional security and prosperity is bringing unexpected cooperation between the US and China. An outcome isn’t at hand, nor is an era of Sino-American partnership in world affairs. However, the two powers, though at odds on matters of trade and territoriality, share Read More …

What comes after Idlib?

Brian M Downing  The Syrian war took another turn this week as several dozen Idlib civilians were killed by noxious clouds. The victims’ symptoms point to nerve gas, possibly sarin. Subsequent autopsies support this. World opinion, generally weary of the endless conflict and the numerous atrocities, is angry. For years people Read More …

Donald Trump goes deeper into the Middle East

Brian M Downing  Candidate Trump promised a more aggressive fight with ISIL and a return to military victories. He has not thus far disappointed supporters of tougher stances in world affairs. In the last month, a few hundred marines took up positions around ISIL’s Syrian capital of Reqqa, an unspecified Read More …

Trump, Netanyahu, and the future of the two-state solution 

Brian M Downing Yesterday, in a decidedly informal press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Trump dropped American support for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He went on to say in passing that he would accept whatever solution the Israel government and Palestinian leadership arrived at. Meanwhile, expansion Read More …

Russia and China look at Afghanistan

Brian M Downing  The war in Afghanistan has dragged on for fifteen years now. The conflict has been complicated by the rise of ISIL in the region. Its Afghan franchise, ISIL-Khorasan Province, has established itself in eastern Afghanistan, where it has coalesced with and recruited from other jihadi groups, including Read More …

Can Assad retake Syria?

Brian M Downing Once Aleppo is completely taken and reasonably secure, Assad and Putin will turn their attention to the last rebel city in the west, Idlib. Their tactics of intensive airstrikes followed by ground assaults are effective, if inhumane. The rebels have no protection from Russian aircraft. Their foreign Read More …