Making Sense of Obama’s Foreign Policy

What might have sounded like a conspiracy theory not too long ago now dawns upon us like an ugly truth.

Drone attacks and clandestine operations authorized by President Obama have so far contributed, albeit to varying degrees, to the destabilization of Pakistan, Yemen and Libya. The same effect has also been achieved in Syria and Iraq but mostly through inaction.

Except for the West Bank and Gaza, the U.S. is responsible for drone attacks that took place in all these locations. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain active in all of them.

Except for the West Bank and Gaza, the U.S. is responsible for drone attacks that took place in all these locations. Despite some losses, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain active in all of them, and has reportedly grown belligerent and popular.

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Al-Qaeda Resurgent!

As the world watches on, Al-Qaeda is gradually building a state for herself in Syria and Iraq.

November 10, 2013 | Gaziantep, Turkey

Having made its operational debut in Syria during the Summer of 2013, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a known Al-Qaeda affiliate comprised mostly of foreign Jihadists, is now actively implementing a fast-track plan for taking over governance of all areas in that country liberated from the rule of the Assad regime, taking advantage of the fractious nature of the rebel movement and the lack of international support to moderate groups. While the plan seems to be running into some trouble in the Kurdish majority areas in the Northeast where hardened PKK fighters have left their positions in Turkey and rushed to support their co-nationals, the takeover process seems to be proceeding at a deliberate pace elsewhere in the country and is picking up speed from day-to-day. The internal differences pitting ISIS against Jabhat Al-Nusra (JAN), another Al-Qaeda affiliate operating in Syria supported mostly by local recruits, and the leader of Al-Qaeda itself, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, does not seem to be having much impact operationally at this stage, although this could change in the future. Continue reading

Why nonviolence failed in Syria

NOW Lebanon | A longer version is available here.

Many people in Syria and across the world continue to wonder why the Syrian uprising took such a violent turn, despite the bravery and selflessness of so many of the early protest leaders. Indeed, the development seems to have come as a result of a sophisticated strategy implemented by the Assad regime from the outset. Understanding this strategy, rather than lamenting the situation, as so many nonviolence advocates and theoreticians continue to do, might help prevent its replication elsewhere.    Continue reading

Syria 2013: Rise of the Warlords

Syrian Revolution Digest

Prepared for a briefing that took place in Washington on January 15, 2013.


The regime is continuing its policy of holding on to big cities and main roads while surrendering the surrounding countryside to rebels. However, it seems inevitable now that the regime might be forced to relinquish its control over the north and northeast soon, a process that could begin within the next 2 to 3 months. This move will include Aleppo City, and the provinces of Deir Ezzor, Raqqa and Hassakeh. Continue reading

The Creation of An Unbridgeable Divide

openDemocracy | 24 January 2013

Syria’s civil war is now strongly characterised by militias identifying along sectarian lines. The growing divide between Sunnis and Alawites has profound implications for Syria, and the Middle East. Continue reading

The Shredded Tapestry: The State of Syria Today

Written on: September 1, 2012
Updated and finalized on: September 11, 2012

The Shredded Tapestry: The State of Syria Today

 A Trip Report (Turkey, August 10-30)


The trip was arranged for the purpose of helping an independent American film company do a documentary on the Syrian Revolution. Khawla Yusuf and I were invited as advisers and interview subjects. But while the film crew made their rounds, Khawla and I had ample time and opportunity to meet with important activists and conduct our own interviews. Continue reading

Top Five Myths Guiding American Foreign Policy in the Broader Middle East & North Africa Region

January 2010 

Despite occasional calibrations reflecting changes in administration, America’s policy towards the Broader Middle East and North Africa region remains highly influenced by a set of misperceptions and ideological stances more related to America’s internal politics than regional realities. This situation has constantly undermined America’s efforts and, occasionally, desire at playing a positive role in the region, and served to transform her into a convenient scapegoat upon which ruling regimes heap blame for all regional woes.

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The Global Middle Class & Global Power Politics

Few observations tweeted on June 2, 2009 regarding a favorite topic of mine: the slow and necessary emergence of a global middle class. 

  1. An empowered and well-informed Global Middle Class can help open up the decision-making processes within the power elites.
  1. An empowered well-informed Global Middle Class can help check conflicts of interests between power elites through the democratic processes.
  1. The continuing prevalence of violent conflicts today results in part from the unawareness of the Global Middle Class of its own existence.  Continue reading