The Kurds’ precarious balancing act in Syria

The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) utility to the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has bolstered its military capability and territorial position in Syria – despite Turkey's opposition. But if the eventual defeat of ISIS results in a scaling back of US involvement in Syria, the PYD will be weakened and will probably seek a more durable alliance with President Bashar al-Assad's regime and its ally, Russia.

The battle for Mosul

Iraqi government and allied forces are poised to decisively retake Mosul from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, within the next few months. But the presence of ISIS in Syria will still pose the risk of the group's resurgence in Iraq.

Conflict and impasse in South Sudan

President Salva Kiir and exiled first vice president Riek Machar, the two key political figures in South Sudan, remain at odds, and there is little sign of a political solution to the country's civil war.

China–North Korea relations

The US has urged China to pressure North Korea into curtailing its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes. But major change in Beijing's behaviour is unlikely before the 19th Party Congress next autumn.

The Trump–Russia connection

Alleged coordination between the President's campaign team and Russia could undermine Trump’s policy priorities, or spark the biggest White House scandal for 30 years.

TLAMs in Syria

The United States' Tomahawk cruise-missile strikes on the Syrian regime's Shayrat Air Base in retaliation for the regime's sarin attack are unlikely to advance peace in Syria.

Shia militias in Iraq

Shia militias, some backed by Iran, are now playing an essential role in ejecting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, from Iraq.

US–Israel relations under Trump

President Trump has backpedalled on his disruptive pre-inauguration support for expanding West Bank settlements, a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement. Nevertheless, at least in the short term, Israel is likely to face less US resistance in pursuing aggressive policies than it did from the Obama administration, especially in regards to the Palestinians.