Stories by Adham Sahloul

Expert Voices

Years of muddled U.S. strategy worsened fallout in Syria

black smoke rising over a town
The Syrian town of Ras al-Ain during the Turkish offensive, Oct. 17. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images

The turmoil let loose in Syria this week stems in part from the absence of a clear U.S. strategy to counter terrorism and negotiate a diplomatic solution to the country's bloody civil war.

The big picture: President Trump’s hamfisted statesmanship and disregard for national security expertise notwithstanding, America's Syria policy from the Obama administration onward has instilled doubts among Middle Eastern and European allies, leading even NATO member Turkey to decisively cross the U.S.

Expert Voices

Safe zone in northern Syria depends on U.S.-Turkey balancing act

soldiers on foot patrolling a town, with tanks in the background
U.S. and SDF forces on patrol in Al-Darbasiyah, in northeastern Syria. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

The provisional agreement the U.S. and Turkey announced last week regarding security in northern Syria marks a positive step for the two NATO allies, whose priorities in the Syrian conflict have often diverged.

Why it matters: The proposed safe zone and guarantees to pull the U.S.–backed, Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces could help assuage Turkish concerns about a Kurdish insurgency while preserving the counter-ISIS campaign and critical stabilization efforts in northeastern Syria.

Expert Voices

Idlib airstrikes by Russia and Assad test U.S. resolve in Syria

rubble of a building hit by an airstrike, with people standing in the background
Buildings destroyed by a reported regime airstrike on the town of Ariha, in the south of Syria's Idlib province, on July 24. Photo: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images

A renewed onslaught by the Syrian and Russian governments against opposition-held areas of Idlib reflects both the conflict's ongoing toll and the loss of American influence over events on the ground.

The big picture: The State Department condemned this week's attacks, which have killed at least 36 civilians, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for "an immediate ceasefire" and "return to the political process." Since April, airstrikes across Syria's northwest attributed to Russia and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have killed at least 606 civilians, including 157 children, and displaced up to 300,000 people.