Developments in eastern Syria indicate we are entering a new phase in the country’s conflict.
Recent developments in the eastern half of Syria suggest we are entering a new phase in the country’s conflict. As the regime of President Bashar al-Assad consolidates itself militarily in western Syria, and as the Islamic State faces an imminent offensive in Raqqa, attention is now shifting to the long and contentious border area with Iraq.
That’s not surprising. Syria’s east always had vital importance for the Assad regimes, abutting two of the country’s main regional rivals, Iraq and Turkey. It is also home to a large Kurdish community that has long had an uneasy relationship with Damascus. In a recent Carnegie paper on developments in Hasakeh governorate in the northeast, Kheder Khaddour underlined that for the Syrian regime a security imperative traditionally prevailed in the region, to the extent that Syrian intelligence officers were often promoted according to how they managed the situation there.