Key Points

Trump is still unsure if he wants to leave Iraq. If he does, he’ll validate Soleimani’s strategy and breathe new life into his shadow armies. If he denies Iran that territory and holds the regime accountable for the actions of its proxies, he will have done something that no other president has done since the rise of the Islamic Republic in 1979. He’ll have changed the rules of the game.

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Monday’s official meeting between the Turkish and Syrian spy chiefs indicates that Erdogan is coming close to recognizing the Assad regime in return for Moscow’s further cooperation in Libya and Syria. Putin’s remarkable ability to reverse Erdogan’s Syria ambitions and force an official meeting between Turkish and Syrian intelligence officials is yet another reminder that Russia is keen and able to fill the vacuum left by the partial U.S. withdrawal from Syria and the Middle East.

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The Moscow talks show that 2020 will continue the trend of deepened cooperation between Erdogan and Putin. Turkey purchased the S-400 missile defense system from Russia last summer, much to the chagrin of the international community, as well as negotiated a ceasefire following Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria this past October. Their partnership in this new arena demonstrates that despite being on opposite sides of the fighting in Syria and Libya, the Turkish and Russian presidents have an uncanny ability to cut deals. However, it is unclear whether these bargains can hold, and thereby remedy Erdogan’s troubles at home and abroad.

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What Caesar deserves is not just a law, but a sustained American commitment to human rights in Syria.

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Alireza Nader is a senior fellow at the FDD. A fluent Persian speaker, he has conducted research and taught courses for U.S. Special Forces and the U.S. Department of Defence.

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EVENT: Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate

October 21, 2019 | 12:00

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

October 10, 2019 | 12:00