Middle East Notes and Comment: The U.S. Should Get Ready for Syria’s Return from War

New Analysis

Even though the Syria crisis is not of the United States’ making and the Trump administration is hostile to open-ended engagements in the Middle East, it’s still in the U.S. interest to save Syria from further catastrophe.

Read Jon Alterman's full piece on Defense One.


In a new commentary, Will Todman explored how changing economic conditions, increasing mobility, new technologies, and shifting gender roles contributed to a gradual rise of individualism in Tunisia. The research for the commentary was based on the Ties that Bind study and was the fourth and final installment in a series focusing on Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE.

Babel: Translating the Middle East

Babel returned from its winter hiatus with a six-part miniseries, China in the Middle East. Over the course of the series, Jon interviewed prominent experts to discuss how China thinks about the Middle East, and how the Middle East thinks about China. The sixth part will be available Tuesday wherever you listen to podcasts.


On February 24th, the Middle East Program will host keynote speaker General Joseph L. Votel for a conference on "After Suleimani: Crisis, Opportunity, and the Future of the Gulf," followed by a Q&A moderated by Jon. The conference will also include a panel with the Hon. John McLaughlin and the Hon. Christine Wormuth. A second panel will feature Amb. Anne Patterson and Amb. Douglas Silliman.

On March 2nd, the Middle East Program and the Humanitarian Agenda are co-hosting keynote speaker the Rt. Hon. David Miliband of the IRC for a conversation on "Nine Years into the Syrian Conflict."

In the News

"President Erdogan can choose to escalate or to retreat to Damascus. Retreat is impossible given the importance that the Turkish president grants to Idlib," said Will Todman to L'Orient le Jour. (02/02/20).

After the release of President Trump's Middle East peace proposal, Jon said to Reuters that both the U.S. and Israeli presidents were looking to shift focus away from their own domestic woes and to "demonstrate that there are important things that need to be done." (01/27/20).

On Plugged In, Jon spoke about the impact of General Suleimani's death, the nuclear deal, and how other powers factor in: "American allies in the region are hoping the U.S. stays put, and the Iranians—as they were before the death of Qasim Suleimani—are focused on pushing the Americans out." (01/15/20).