American risks and rewards in the anti-Iran coalition

Brian M Downing The United States has entered into a portentous strategic partnership with Israel and a host of Sunni powers led by Saudi Arabia. The new Triple Entente was nominally formed to fight terrorism but actually to weaken Iranian-Shia influence from Lebanon and Syria to Iran. An initial move was Read More …

The American-Israeli-Saudi alliance takes on Iran across the Middle East

Brian M Downing Sectarian tensions are high, probably as high as they’ve been in many centuries. This stems in part from the Iranian Revolution of 1979 when the Sunni monarchies shuddered at Khomeini’s call for uprisings. More proximately, tensions stem from the Arab Spring when the same monarchs misinterpreted broad-based 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 …

More US troops to Syria?

Brian M Downing  President Trump ordered the Pentagon to present him with a more aggressive strategy for fighting ISIL, and the chiefs are about to offer options. One option calls for deploying more troops to Syria. The units would not be ground combat units, rather they would be primarily support troops to help 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 …

Negotiation and escalation in the Syrian civil war after Aleppo

Negotiation and escalation in the Syrian civil war after Aleppo  Brian M Downing  The war in Syria is entering its sixth year. Various rebel groups, backed by Sunni powers, had the upper hand until Hisbollah, Iran, and Russia intervened on the government side. Over the last year government forces developed a tactic Read More …

Is conflict with Iran coming, again?

Is conflict with Iran coming, again? Brian M Downing Throughout the campaign Donald Trump criticized his chief adversary for supporting the Iranian nuclear deal of 2015. The president-elect has backtracked on several matters, including prosecuting Hillary Clinton and building a physical wall along the Mexican border. Trump has not stepped Read More …

The coming ISIL dispersal – Iraq and Syria

The coming ISIL dispersal – Iraq and Syria Brian M Downing  In coming weeks, or months, ISIL’s prestigious holdings, Mosul and Raqqa, will have been retaken. ISIL will have only a handful of smaller towns and expanses of land – most of it wasteland. Several thousand ISIL fighters are in Read More …