This Week in Geopolitics, February 2018

An Eventful Week in the Syrian War

February 26, 2018

Turkey’s invasion of Afrin in northern Syria has redrawn the established lines of battle. Turkey proposed cooperation with the United States in Afrin and Manbij, both of which are held by Syrian Kurds—whom the US has been supporting and the Turks consider hostile. Though no formal agreement has been reached, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the US would work with Turkey to coordinate their actions in Syria. Then, the Syrian Kurds apparently invited pro-regime forces into Afrin to help...

The EMP Threat: How It Works and What It Means for the Korean Crisis

February 19, 2018

Over the past year, North Korean state media have repeatedly featured warnings of a potential high-altitude electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack against the United States.

A Short History of the Islamic State

February 12, 2018

In June 2014, a man named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, dressed entirely in black, stood at the pulpit in the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The mosque he chose was deliberate: It was built in the 12th century by a Turkic ruler famous for fighting Christian crusaders. The name he chose was deliberate: It was a nod to Abu Bakr, the first caliph, or religious and civil leader of the Muslim world. The garb he chose was deliberate: It harkened back to the caliphs of yore and thus to...

Iran’s Protests Are Over, but Uncertainty Lingers

February 5, 2018

On Dec. 28, 2017, Iran’s second most populous city, Mashhad, situated in the northeast near the border with Turkmenistan, was the site of protests that would soon expand to dozens of towns, villages, and urban centers throughout the country. On the first day, three cities held demonstrations. (Some reports say it was five.) On the second day, an additional nine cities saw protests. By the sixth day, they had spread to all corners of the country.