Stories by Adham Sahloul

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.

Expert Voices

U.S.–Turkey ties slide further amid advanced weapons impasse

Unloading of a Russian military cargo plane in Ankara, Turkey
A Russian cargo aircraft delivering S-400 components to Murted Air Base in Ankara, Turkey. Photo: Rasit Aydogan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The U.S. removed Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program on Wednesday, escalating a months-long standoff over Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems.

Why it matters: Turkey is a strategic U.S. ally in the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia and an important partner in American relations with the Muslim world. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to move forward with the S-400 purchase risks undermining NATO military coordination and exposing U.S. and broader NATO alliance capabilities to Russian intelligence.