Key Points

Ahead of his November 13 meeting with Erdogan, Trump should not fall for the Turkish president’s public relations stunts. Instead, Trump should demand tougher action against the full range of jihadist networks active within and around Turkish borders, beyond just the Islamic State. Trump should also hold the Turkish government accountable for the war crimes committed by its Islamist proxies in northeast Syria. By aggravating instability in Syria, Erdogan threatens to reverse the gains that the U.S. and its allies have made against the Islamic State.

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The alternative to taking meaningful steps to reestablish the credibility of America’s will to use force is to simply sit back, absorb Iran’s provocations, and wait until the regime caves to the steadily mounting pressure of U.S. sanctions. In the face of Iran’s escalation campaign and Trump’s own aversion to risking new military conflicts, that in fact seems to be the default policy that the administration has actually settled on. It’s by no means impossible for it to eventually work—Iran’s economy is being absolutely hammered. But the big question is how long it will take and what amount of damage an increasingly desperate Iranian regime, unconstrained by the fear of U.S. military retaliation, is capable of inflicting in the meantime on the interests of the United States and its friends and allies. If the brazen attack on Abqaiq is any indication, the answer may be a great deal of damage indeed.

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The Islamic State has yet to name Baghdadi’s replacement or confirm his death.

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Deeping relations between Doha and Ankara will not bode well for Washington. The Turkish-Qatari axis will promote Hamas and other extremist groups throughout the region, and push policies that will further wreak havoc in an already volatile part of the world. Both countries pick and choose how they align with U.S. interests, and often undermine Washington’s policies in the Middle East. Thus, neither country deserves to be named a U.S. ally. The sooner Washington sees this, the better it will be for our security and regional interests.

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The one thing we do know: Trump keeps giving this rogue NATO member a free pass.

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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