May 26, 2016

About Jonathan Spyer

Dr. Jonathan Spyer is Director of the Rubin Center (formerly the GLORIA Center), IDC Herzliya, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2010) and a columnist at the Jerusalem Post newspaper. Spyer holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Master’s Degree in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. His reporting on the war in Syria and Iraq has been published in a number of major news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Times, Weekly Standard and many others. His blog can be followed at:

Black Banner at the Gates of Europe

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond speaks during a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta at the Pentagon, July 18, 2012. The two defense leaders discussed issues of mutual concern. (Source: United States Department of Defense)

The Islamic State Comes to Libya At a meeting of G5 world leaders in Hanover, Germany this week, a proposal was raised for US warships to join vessels of EU navies off the coast of Libya.  Their mission would be to help slow the flow of migrants from Africa. They would also be responsible for guarding the southern tip of Europe from seaborne terror attacks.  Such a notion, unimaginable a few years ago, is now very much on the range of possibilities. British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond … [Read more...]

The Changing ISIS Threat

isis in anbar

Islamic State loses ground in Iraq and Syria, advances in Libya The reconquest by the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of the town of Qaryatayn from Islamic State this month is the latest indication of the declining fortunes of the extremist organisation in Iraq and Syria, following the loss of Palmyra in late March. Facing determined enemies on three fronts, the Sunni jihadis would appear to be adopting a policy of tactical retreat to preserve their forces for the vital battles … [Read more...]

Ready for the Storm: Israel and the Syrian War

IDF soldiers prepare near Israeli-Syrian border

War in Syria – and Israeli efforts to ensure it does not spread to the Golan, West Bank – set to continue The fragile cease-fire declared in Syria on February 27 between regime and rebel forces is in the process of crumbling. Assad’s forces have launched an offensive across southern Aleppo province. Fighting is also taking place in Homs and northwest Hama provinces and east of Damascus. There are reports of regime forces massing for an assault on rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo … [Read more...]

Towards a Coherent Western Policy on Syria

Rebel fighters prepare to launch an anti-tank missile towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Maaret al-Naaman village, in Idlib April 30, 2014.

The following article was published by the Centre for the New Middle East at the Henry Jackson Society Towards a Coherent Western Policy on the Syrian War Key points: Syria today is divided into areas of control.  The Russian intervention means that the Assad regime can no longer be defeated militarily, except by a direct western military intervention against Assad which clearly will not happen. Western policy on Syria has been characterized by hesitation and by an inability to … [Read more...]

Interview with Eve Harow: Reporting on the Syrian War and the Current Situation in the Middle East

CBN interview1

Click here to access the interview … [Read more...]

War and Madness: A Retrospective of Five Years of Reporting on the War in Syria

Jonathan Spyer (right) with YPG fighter.

The cold numbers are the first thing that hit you. Figures telling of a human catastrophe on a scale hard to compute. Suffering on a level to which any rational response seems inadequate – 470,000 people killed, according to the latest estimates; 11.5 percent of the population injured; 45 percent of a country of 22 million made homeless; 4 million refugees and 6.36 million internally displaced persons. Life expectancy is down from 70.5 years in 2010 to an estimated 55.4 years in 2015. Welcome … [Read more...]

Assessing the Syrian Ceasefire


Jerusalem Post, 13/3 The cease-fire that came into effect in Syria on February 27 is a partial success. Humanitarian convoys have begun to get through to some of the areas besieged by government forces. The death toll is sharply down. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the civilian death toll in Syria fell by 90 percent last week. This was accompanied by an 80% decline in deaths among combatants on all sides. “Proximity” talks between the sides are set to commence in … [Read more...]

ISIS Losing Ground: Interview on CBN

CBN interview1

  … [Read more...]

How Israel Navigated Through the Hurricane of the Syrian Civil War

Israeli soldiers in an abandoned military outpost overlooking the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria on Tal Hazika near Alonei Habshan.

The Tower Magazine, 4/3/16 The Syrian civil war is a disaster of historic proportions that shows no sign of ending anytime soon. The latest figures suggest that it has killed nearly half a million people, making it the greatest catastrophe to hit the Levant since 1945, dwarfing earlier crises in terms of its human cost. But throughout all this carnage, only one country that borders Syria has managed to remain largely immune to the side effects of the war. That country is Israel. With constant … [Read more...]

The Syrian Cauldron

Vladimir Putin meeting with Hassan Rouhani, 13 September 2013
(Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office,

Jerusalem Post, 19/2 Over the ruined landscape of northern Syria, a number of core factors which today define the strategic reality of the Middle East are colliding.  Close observation of that blighted area therefore offers clues as to the current state of play more broadly in the region – who is on the way up, who on the way down, and what might this imply for Israel in the short to medium term. Let’s identify the factors interacting discernibly in the north Syrian maelstrom: Firstly and … [Read more...]