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 …

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 …

President Trump wants a bigger military 

Brian M Downing  The Trump administration is looking for a steep increase in military spending. It also wants significant cuts in social spending and the State Department budget to help pay for it. More guns, less butter. Less diplomacy too. The budget will be contested in Congress; the cuts and boosts might well be 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 …

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 …

The Islamic State looks ahead – and to the wasteland

Brian M Downing  ISIL continues to demonstrate not only its brutality but also its determination and effectiveness. Their Salafist-apocalyptic creed supersedes the tribal antagonisms and ill-regard for leaders that weaken other armies of the region, make them less stable, and force them to rely on foreign militaries. Despite a string Read More …