At least since 2014 the presence of Iranian forces in the Syrian war has certainly ensured both political stability and military success on the ground for Assad’s regime. Some Syrian sources maintain that since December 2013 Iran's engagement in the Syrian conflict has cost at least 6 billion US dollars a year, while other Western sources think the financial support provided has been twice as much.

Published in Middle East

Optimists see hopeful signs that the Middle East may be exiting from a dark tunnel of violence, civil war, sectarian strife, and debilitating regional rivalries.The Islamic State (IS) is on the cusp of territorial defeat in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia may be groping for an exit from its devastating military intervention in Yemen. Gulf states are embarking on economic and social reform aimed at preparing for the end of oil.

Published in Middle East

Despite the opposition of the central government in Baghdad, Kurdish political parties agreed to hold a referendum in the region on September 25th, 2017. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said that the referendum includes disputed areas, such as oil-rich province of Kirkuk, which is claimed by the Kurds and Baghdad.

Published in Middle East

Authors: Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., Grace Wakim & Ardian Shajkovci, Ph.D.

Allah Akbar (meaning God is Greatest) is a colloquial expression commonly used by Muslims, especially in the Arab world, to praise God and express commitment to the religion of Islam. Muslims often use the term to express emotions, such as gratitude, fear, and joy.

Published in Middle East

F
or someone who has made no secret of his enmity towards Islam, it was surprising enough that the first international event to tempt President Donald Trump to leave US soil ended up being the Arab Islamic American Summit in Saudi Arabia.

Published in Middle East

U
.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in the Russian capital Moscow on Wednesday, April 12 for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. On the top of their agenda will be bilateral relations as well as the situation in Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East as well as North Korea. The two permanent UN Security Council members may, as counter-intuitive as it may seem for those who limit their analysis to propaganda, both benefit from a well-managed policy of tensions.

Published in Russia

Authors: Asaad H. Almohammad, Ph.D. & Anne Speckhard, Ph.D.

T
here is a recurring scene of cheerful crowds in Iraqi towns and city that have been liberated from ISIS; older women, men, and young adults exhaling cigarette smoke and grinning as they relish in this recent regained symbol of liberty and freedom. There was a moment circulated on social media of an older woman cursing ISIS on camera after her town was liberated by Kurdish-led forces. She didn’t hold back! One grievance that she ranted about more than any was ISIS’ ban of cigarettes and smoking.

Published in Intelligence

T
he Iraqi forces reached the eastern bank of the Tigris River on January 8, 2016 as the Mosul offensive entered in the second phase on December 29, 2016. Just a week earlier, the French President Francois Holland said on January 2, 2017 in Baghdad that it would likely take weeks to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State. Whenever the liberation comes to life, it would hardly mean a foreseeable end to violent extremism and sectarian hostility in Iraq.

Published in Middle East
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