April 20, 2014

About Jonathan Spyer

Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2010) and a columnist at the Jerusalem Post newspaper. Spyer holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Masters' Degree in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. His blog can be followed at: http://jonathanspyer.com/.

The Peace Process Is Dead. Let It Lie Down.

2014 Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks

The April 29th deadline has not yet been reached, but it may be said with confidence that the initiative by Secretary of State John Kerry to revive the ‘peace process’ between Israelis and Palestinians has already reached its final destination: failure.  The failure of this initiative was obvious from the beginning.  To everyone except, apparently, Kerry himself.  This reality lent an element of low farce to the entire proceedings.  By now, it should really be obvious to any serious … [Read more...]

Assad’s Boasts vs. Syrian Reality

A Shaam News Network image shows damage in Qusayr, near the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs.

Syrian President Bashar Assad this week said that he expects that in the course of 2014, major military operations in Syria will end.  Following this, all that will remain will be the need to deal with the ongoing problem of ‘terrorists.’ The bullish confidence of the Syrian leader followed  recent remarks by Hizballah General-Secretary Hassan Nasrallah, who said in a speech that the danger that the Syrian regime could fall has now been averted. What do such statements reflect?  Is the … [Read more...]

War Across the Borders

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

It has become a commonplace to claim that the unrest in the Arab world is challenging the state borders laid down in the Arab world following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. This claim, however, is only very partially valid. It holds true in a specific section of the Middle East, namely the contiguous land area stretching from Iran’s western borders to the Mediterranean Sea, and taking in the states currently known as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In this area, a single sectarian … [Read more...]

New Sunni Insurgency in Iraq

Car bombing in Iraq, 2005

Largely ignored by the global media, Iraq today stands on the brink of a renewed Sunni insurgency.  The emergent insurgency in Iraq is following the same sectarian pattern as the civil war in Syria and the growing violence in Lebanon. It also involves many of the same local and regional players. The rising violence in Iraq is not, however, simply the result of a spillover from the Syrian war. It derives also from internal Iraqi dynamics. But these are themselves in significant ways comparable … [Read more...]

Israel-Syria Border Escalation

Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.

This week’s events on the Israel-Syrian border are testimony to the extent to  which the effective disintegration of the Syrian state is producing a new  security reality in the North. Once, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s  regime sought to conduct its business via Israel’s border with Lebanon. The  Syrians would seek to place pressure on Israel by supporting paramilitary  proxies in Lebanon, which would launch attacks on Israeli forces and  communities. At the same time, the … [Read more...]

Shifting Mideast Sands Reveal New Alliances

Egyptian General Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi

A number of events in recent weeks cast light on the current intersecting lines of conflict in the Middle East. They reflect a region in flux, in which new bonds are being formed, and old ones torn asunder. But amid the confusion, a new topography is emerging. This was the month in which a long-existent split in the Sunni Arab world turned into a gaping fissure. On March 5th, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they were withdrawing their ambassadors from the … [Read more...]

Not Quiet on the Northern Front

Golan ceasefire line crossing, 2012.

The disintegration of the Syrian state into warring enclaves is bringing with  it new challenges and threats for Israel. Alarm bells have now been sounded on  Israel’’ shared northern border with Syria. “For the moment, they [Jihadis] are not fighting us, but we know their  ideology. . . . It could be that, in the coming months, we could find ourselves  dragged into confrontation with them,” said a top-level Israel Defense Forces  officer. In addition to the Jihadi threat, the … [Read more...]

Kurdistan Emerges

The Kurdish flag.

In late February, The Jerusalem Post spoke to prominent Kurdish leader Zubeyir Aydar in the Brussels offices of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK). Aydar’s official title is vice-president of the Koma Civakên Kurdistan (KCK) (Group of Communities in Kurdistan. He is one of the top figures in the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), second only to movement leader Cemil Bayik, and is the head of the movement’s European operations. The PKK has been engaged in an insurgency against Turkey … [Read more...]

The End of the “Wrong Side of History”

Russian President Vladimir Putin

President Barack Obama, in criticizing Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s conquest of the Crimean Peninsula, described Putin as standing on the "wrong side of history."  This curious and arresting phrase has become a common usage among western liberals.   It is testimony to their self-confidence, and to their belief that they have accurately read the deeper currents and inevitable direction of human affairs.  These, in the view of the president and his supporters, point … [Read more...]

Holding Back al-Qaeda

Golan Heights

Will Israel be dragged into the Syrian conflict? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit this week to an IDF field hospital where wounded Syrians are receiving treatment served to showcase the Israeli humanitarian effort to respond to the crisis facing Syrian civilians caught up in the ongoing conflict.  Recent reports suggest that the Israeli focus on events in southern Syria goes beyond purely humanitarian concerns. Increasing attention is being paid by Israeli planners to the buildup … [Read more...]