Middle East News Update

A New Zealand trainer from Task Force Taji provides instruction to Iraqi soldiers. (U.S. Army Photo by SPC Craig Jensen, 1 Dec 2016).
A New Zealand trainer from Task Force Taji provides instruction to Iraqi soldiers. (U.S. Army Photo by SPC Craig Jensen, 1 Dec 2016).

Middle East News Update – Obama’s Syrian legacy, seige of Aleppo, using hybrid warfare against Russia, research into Arab politics, U.S. support to Kurds could be better, and more.

Obama’s Syrian Legacy. A former NATO supreme allied commander – retired Admiral James Stavridis – has said that President Obama will regret not doing more to assist the Syrian rebels that fought against the Assad regime. He specifically mentioned the tragedy of Alleppo. Read more in “Ex-NATO supreme commander: Obama will look back in ‘shame’ on Syria”The Hill Defense Blog, December 14, 2016.

U.S. Support to Kurds Questioned. While the United States has been providing training, advise, and assistance to the Kurds and their Peshmerga fighting forces once U.S. agency thinks more can be done. The Defense Department’s Inspector General (IG) has released a report that found some limitations to the program. Read “IG report: U.S. support to Kurds could be better”Military Times, December 21, 2016.

Seige of Aleppo. The four year battle for Aleppo is nearing its final stages. The Syrian regime forces – backed by Russian military air power (and Russian SOF on the ground), as well as proxy forces of Iran – have the rebel forces on the ropes. The humanitarian disaster experience in Aleppo is significant and the fall of the city may in some ways alleviate the plight of the non-combatants. Peter Apps writing for Arab News provides his perspective in “Analysis: The lessons of Aleppo’s long, pointless siege”, December 14, 2016.

Siege of Eastern Ghouta, Syria. While Aleppo dominates the news about the conflict in Syria another rebel enclave is under attack. This one in the eastern outskirts of Damascus. Read about the rise and fall of Syria’s rebel enclave in “Into the Tunnels”, The Century Foundation, December 21, 2016.

Beyond the Arab Uprisings. The Century Foundation (TCF) is conducting a research project on “Arab Politics beyond the Uprisings”. It will result in a series of publications in 2017.

Using Hybrid War against Moscow. Max Boot, a defense commentator and author, has wrote that it is time for Obama to give Russia a taste of his own medicine – with the use of hybrid warfare. Russia’s aggression in Syria (as well as Eastern Europe) shows its ability to attain its national objectives with operations within the “Gray Zone”. Boot advocates the revival of “the political warfare skills it once possessed . . .” Read more in “How to Wage Hybrid War on the Kremlin”Foreign Policy, December 13, 2016.

Photo credit: U.S. Army by Specialist Craig Jensen, December 1, 2016.

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