Stories by David L. Phillips

Expert Voices

After Syria strikes, time to renew diplomacy

building rubble in Damascus
Wreckage of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound north of Damascus, a target of the missile strikes. Photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

In response to the recent chlorine bomb attacks in Douma, President Trump ordered missile strikes on three facilities used by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime to produce and store chemical weapons. Rather than destroy Syria’s extensive chemical weapons infrastructure, Trump sought to demonstrate international resolve and deter future use.

Yes, but: These were limited and surgical strikes at the insistence of cautious Pentagon planners, including Defense Secretary James Mattis. Strikes did not target Assad’s broader war-making capability or seek to advance the goal of regime change. They also avoided Russian and Iranian casualties, which could have escalated the conflict.

Expert Voices

In new incursion, Turkey orchestrates rushed extraditions from Kosovo

Students of Mehmet Akif College demonstrate against the arrest of their teachers in Pristina on March 29, 2018.
Students of Mehmet Akif College protest the Turkish arrest of their teachers in Pristina, Kosovo, on March 29, 2018. Photo: Armend Nimani/AFP via Getty Images

In the latest example of Turkey's brazen expansionism into Kosovo, it secured the extradition of six Turkish teachers it has accused of belonging to the Gulen movement, which President Erdogan blames for the failed 2016 coup. Kosovo's Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, has since fired his interior minister and intelligence chief for deporting the Turkish nationals without his knowledge.

Why it matters: Transparency and the rule of law are necessary for Kosovo to gain greater global recognition. But Turkey continues to treat Kosovo like a vassal state, impinging on its sovereignty while expanding its cultural and commercial influence inside its neighbor's borders.

Expert Voices

Russian obstruction on Syria at UN Security Council demands response

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein speaking during a press conference at the UN Offices in Geneva.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images

Russia used a procedural vote on Monday to prevent UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein from presenting on human rights conditions in Syria to the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Why it matters: To date, Russia has vetoed nine resolutions aimed at intensifying pressure on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, moves that not only counter U.S. interests but undermine the international system.