The Great Debate

When it comes to Vladimir Putin and Islamic State, trust but verify

By Gregory Feifer
November 18, 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles during a session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi, Russia, October 22, 2015. Putin said on Thursday he had asked his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad how he would view an armed opposition force that was genuinely ready to combat Islamic State militants. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. - RTS5OQ8

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles during a session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi, Russia, October 22, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

No one is coming to rescue Islamic State’s capital

By Aki Peritz
November 9, 2015
Militant Islamist fighters waving flags, travel in vehicles as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. The fighters held the parade to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said. Picture taken June 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR3WKTZ

Militant Islamist fighters waving flags take part in a military parade in Syria’s northern Raqqa province, June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

What a Russian ‘win’ in Syria would look like

By Josh Cohen
October 28, 2015
Russian President Putin shakes hands with Syrian President Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Syria’s one hope may be as dim as Bosnia’s once was

October 6, 2015
Damaged buildings in Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, Syria

Damaged buildings in Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Vladimir Putin’s secret weapon for a Syrian end game? Diplomacy.

By Nicolay Kozhanov
October 5, 2015
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, President Putin and French President Hollande sit together at the start of a summit on Ukraine at the Elysee Palace in Paris

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and French President Francois Hollande at a summit on Ukraine at the Elysee Palace in Paris, October 2, 2015. REUTERS/Etienne Laurent/Pool

Russia’s fight in Syria reflects the Kremlin’s fears at home

By Paul Stronski
September 29, 2015
Russian Mil Mi-26 Halo helicopter flies over the Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow

Russian Mil Mi-26 Halo helicopter flies over the Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti

Imperial overreach: How Putin’s move into Syria could bring his government down

By William E. Pomeranz
September 28, 2015
A general view shows the Temple of Bel in the historical city of Palmyra

These are the ruins of the Temple of Bel in the historical city of Palmyra, Syria, once the seat of a great empire. On August 30, 2015, Islamic State destroyed it. REUTERS/Sandra Auger

What Obama can learn from Vladimir Putin

By Josh Cohen
September 28, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Putin in Los Cabos

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

When Vladimir Putin looks in the mirror, does he see Syria’s Assad?

September 21, 2015
Election poster of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin are seen on a car at al-Qardahah town

Election poster of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) are seen on a car at al-Qardahah town near Latakia city May 26, 2014. REUTERS/Khaled al-Harir

Life is harsh under Islamic State. But what’s the alternative?

By Aki Peritz
February 9, 2015
Man walks down a street filled with abandoned vehicles and debris from damaged buildings in the northern Syrian town of Kobani

A man walks down a street in the northern Syrian town of Kobani, January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal