In late June 2013, the Syrian government renewed its campaign in the central Syrian province of Homs, indicating that it failed to achieve its operational and strategic objectives after defeating the rebels in al-Qusayr.
In the early part of 2012, ISW, AEI, and the Brookings Institution undertook a war game designed to simulate a worsening of the Syrian conflict and the spillover effects of that crisis on neighboring countries. What was postulated as a hypothetical situation in fact hewed quite closely to the way in which events eventually unfolded.
A map showing areas of operation and safe havens for Al Qaeda and its associated movements.
The conflict in Syria has exacerbated traditional communal tensions in Lebanon, with violent clashes becoming increasingly widespread in parts of the country.
Across the Mediterranean and Pacific worlds, Iran is striving to strengthen and extend its influence. From Libya to Sri Lanka and beyond, the regime is building networks of trade, power, and control. Collisions with other world powers have generated political friction and strategic setbacks. However, the nation remains committed to expanding its regional significance. Iran's ambitions are serious.
On the heels of its success in al-Qusayr, the Syrian government launched a new offensive against rebel-held areas in Aleppo province, marked by the deployment of thousands of Lebanese Hezbollah militants on June 2.
With the help of thousands of fighters from Hezbollah, Iran, and Iraq, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has achieved one of his most important military victories in the past two years by forcing the withdrawal of opposition forces from the town of al-Qusayr. Al-Qusayr now also cuts off access to cross-border weapons supplies to the rebels from Lebanon and provides an important staging ground for future efforts by the regime to retake the north and east.
Al Qaeda in Iraq launched a concentrated wave of car-bomb and other attacks specifically against civilian Shi'a targets in and around Baghdad. Shi'a militias are mobilizing and have begun a round of sectarian killings.
The political participation of the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq is critical to the security and stability of the state. At present, they are functionally excluded from government. Without effective political representation, the Sunni in Iraq are left with few alternatives to address their grievances against the Maliki government.
Recent violence against Sunni communities in Syria’s coastal region raises new concern over sectarianism in Syria. It also suggests to some that Assad will move to form an Alawi state.