Power abhors a vacuum, and in the absence of strong U.S. leadership on Syria, Russia and Iran have been more than happy to move in. It's a measure of just how much they've come to dominate the conflict that they'll be the only major foreign powers at the summit. The White House has largely washed its hands of Syria. But with Iran entrenched in Damascus, and the Islamic State biding its time in the far countryside, it's likely only a matter of time before our hands are dirtied again. When that happens we'll likely look at these negotiations as a lost opportunity.
The main takeaway from Facebook's announcement is not just that Russia-style meddling is exportable, but that it's inevitable. If Moscow authored the playbook, Tehran read it word for word, and they won't be the only country to do so. Spreading disinformation on Facebook is so easy and effective that we need to assume every foreign adversary will now do it.
For decades, Saudi Arabia has positioned itself as the leading champion of Sunni Islam. One way they've done that is by bankrolling Palestinian causes, including funding the Palestinian Authority to the tune of $20 million a month. Yet Saudi efforts in the West Bank pose a problem for President Erdogan. He's made it no secret that he wants to restore Turkey to what he views as its rightful place atop Sunni Islam. Yet so long as the Saudis are viewed as the defenders of the Palestinians, that's not a mantle he can steal. That's why Erdogan is cultivating support within East Jerusalem—and why the Palestinian Authority is pushing back.
The ceasefire shows yet again the leverage the Taliban now has thanks to its recent attacks. What’s most interesting is that the ceasefire doesn’t apply to the Islamic State. Whereas the Taliban have primarily attacked security forces, the Islamic State’s violence has much been much less selective, and has killed far more civilians. The Taliban’s strategy appears to have paid off— there’s popular support for a ceasefire with the Taliban, but not for one with the Islamic State.
We have a system that was designed in 1975 to work, and security was an afterthought. The security flaws have been known for a long time. They’ve never really been addressed because the underlying technology is so useful.
Israel and Iran were on a collision course even without the JCPOA following apart. Now that Iran is rebuilding its nuclear infrastructure, it's difficult to see how conflict can be avoided—Israel has made it clear that a nuclear Iran is not an option, and Iran is all but daring Israel to stop it.
The attack on the interior ministry is just the latest in a long string of brazen and high profile attacks in Kabul this year. This winter the Taliban carried out an ambulance bombing that killed over 100, while the Islamic State killed over ten soldiers in an attack on an Afghan army base. Afghan security forces have long struggled with how to defeat the Taliban alone. Now that the Taliban are competing with the Islamic State for resources and recruits, the challenge has grown even more daunting—the two groups are now locked in a race to see who can launch bigger and more devastating attacks.