As fighting rages on in Syria, world leaders in Vienna on Tuesday pledged to turn the limited “cessation of hostilities” into a nationwide ceasefire heralding progress toward full peace and a political end to the war. Yet the question remains, as it has for years: If diplomacy fails, then what?
The 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement explains little about the contemporary Middle East’s problems, writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook. Assuming it does is bad history and leads to bad assumptions for U.S. foreign policy.
In a comprehensive interview with Jeffrey Goldberg for the Atlantic, Philip Gordon discusses President Obama’s strategy in the Middle East, the so-called “Washington Playbook,” the Syria “redline,” and more. He argues the next administration will have to deal extensively with the Middle East whether it wants to or not.
Bernie Sanders recently spoke at some length about Israel, with the New York Daily News. Elliott Abrams analyzed the interview in The Weekly Standard, finding no hostility to the Jewish State—but confusion and misinformation.
The entire world was surprised when, at the end of September 2015, Vladimir Putin suddenly started moving Russian aircraft, tanks and troops into Syria. At the time, President Obama predicted the Russian intervention would fail.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s surprise announcement that he is pulling Russian forces out of Syria will be greeted skeptically by many, and for good reason. Mr. Putin may be showing himself to be a canny strategist. But watch out for all the ways his plan could still go wrong.
Writing in Financial Times, Philip Gordon argues that the ceasefire in Syria is the most propitious development in the country since the war began five years ago. It's maintenance should be prioritized even over other longstanding goals such as the immediate removal of Assad or the marginalization of Russia and Iran.
The United Nations Security Council approved this resolution on December 18, 2015. The document provides a timeline for a ceasefire and a Syrian-led political transition. It also discusses how the UN will monitor political negotiations, provide humanitarian assistance, and fight terrorist groups in the region.
Writing in the Washington Post, Philip Gordon, James Dobbins, and Jeff Martini argue that the best path to peace in Syria starts with a ceasefire based on agreed zones of control, with political negotiations to follow.
The Center for Preventive Action's annual Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) evaluates ongoing and potential conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring in the coming year and their impact on U.S. interests. The PPS aims to help the U.S. policymaking community prioritize competing conflict prevention and mitigation demands.
Turkey has chosen not to play a constructive role in combating extremism and resolving the Syrian conflict, argues CFR’s Steven A. Cook. Instead, Ankara has gone after securing its own interests, that of securing the power of the ruling party and undermining Syria’s Kurds.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »