Key Points

For now, however, all eyes are on Trump and Mohammed bin Salman. Trump must rescue U.S. shale oil from the Saudis—and make sure that any deal to cut back production and stabilize prices will truly stick.

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In February 2019, Ayman al Zawahiri criticized Turkey as a “secular” regime, warning its Syrian affiliates not to trust or rely on Turkey as well as the “secular Turkish checkpoints” present in Idlib. These statements from al-Zawahiri undoubtedly fueled the suspicion and mistrust of al-Qaeda commanders in groups such as Hurras al-Din, thus providing an ideological basis on which these groups will continue to resist Ankara’s influence in Idlib as well as the implementation of any Russo-Turkish agreements. Whatever the future of Turkey’s involvement in Idlib may look like, Ankara will have eventually be forced to deal with the al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists in one fashion or another.

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Over the course of the nine-year civil war in Syria, a long list of state and non-state actors have taken advantage of the flow of displaced persons to advance policies, extract concessions from counterparts, and impose costs on adversaries. This process has exacted an untold level of physical and mental suffering on the Syrian people. The growing risk of a coronavirus pandemic, however, is slowly forcing decision-makers to factor in the potential costs they are likely to incur as a result of an outbreak in the territories they control. The realization that what afflicts Syria’s vulnerable populations is not something that can be contained or ignored has been made clear, as the COVID-19 disease is now poised to afflict others in the region and beyond. These circumstances should be a wake-up call for regional and global actors to take urgent and concerted action to bring an end to the suffering in Syria that has gone on for too long. 

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For now, the Trump administration should send a clear message to the Kremlin that the United States can and will defend itself – even in the midst of a pandemic.

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If Pompeo believes that Europe, for its own internal politics, must see a vote to extend the arms embargo fail before agreeing to snapback, then he should schedule that vote and proceed to snapback without delay. The United Kingdom, having just lost a British soldier to an Iranian proxy attack in Iraq, may be willing to act sooner than later. We must not waste another moment to save the United States—and the world—from what Trump rightly calls the worst deal ever made.

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EVENT: The Dragons and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West

March 10, 2020 | 11:30

EVENT: Instruments of American Power: Implementing Foreign Policies and Protecting Against Global Threats

October 10, 2019 | 12:00