Created with Sketch.
15 minutes | 15 days ago
E44: Kremlin Intensifies War in Donbas to Undermine Ukrainian Government in Elections
The recent local elections in Ukraine were an important political battleground in Putin’s contest to restore Kremlin-friendly rule and annex territory in that country, the objective behind his 2014 invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin’s costly military operations failed to achieve their desired political outcome, resulting instead in a protracted war between Ukrainian armed forces and Russian proxies occupying eastern Ukraine and sophisticated political and information warfare aimed at shaping Kyiv’s government. The Kremlin recently sought to manipulate local elections in Ukraine to legitimize Russian proxies in Donbas, the territory they occupy in eastern Ukraine, and include its electorate within Ukraine itself. On this episode of Overwatch, ISW Russia Team member George Barros discusses the outcome of Ukraine’s recent elections; the Kremlin’s techniques to attempt to influence Ukrainian elections; and the integration of military, political, and information operations in Russia’s hybrid war against its neighbor.
17 minutes | a month ago
E43: Kremlin Exploits Crisis to Secure Greater Russian Control of Belarus
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a longstanding objective to integrate Belarus into Russian-controlled structures. The Kremlin is undermining the Belarusian president's attempts to calm protests while simultaneously using the protest movement to justify Russian involvement in Belarusian affairs. This interference may enable Putin to deploy more Russian forces on NATO's eastern flank and advance Putin’s campaign to reassert Russian control over former Soviet states. On this episode of Overwatch, Mason Clark and George Barros discuss the trajectory of the crisis and what the Kremlin seeks to gain from it.
37 minutes | 2 months ago
E42: Vicious Cycles in the Middle East and Africa Continue to Threaten US National Security Despite Efforts to Withdraw
The US is routinely confronted with crises that worsen and expand in scope over time. Modern technology and global interconnectedness have made these self-reinforcing crises increasingly common and intractable. In this episode of Overwatch, Emily Estelle discusses this phenomenon and the danger it presents to US national security.
15 minutes | 2 months ago
E41: Iraq's "October Revolution" Protests Resume as a Tense Country Looks On
Mass anti-government protests erupted in Iraq in October 2019. The protests led to the resignation of the government in what became known as the "October Revolution," but not before crackdowns by Iraqi Security Forces and Iran-backed proxies killed over 600 people. On this episode of Overwatch, Katherine Lawlor talks about the origins of the protest movement, what has changed in Iraq over the last year, and what’s next for the protest movement as a whole.
26 minutes | 2 months ago
E40: Putin’s Offset: The Power of Perception
Russian President Vladimir Putin plays a weak hand well. His center of gravity is increasingly his ability to shape others’ perception and create the image of a powerful Russia based on limited real power. He has several clear strengths, but also very real limitations. Nonetheless, he continues to achieve goals that should be beyond his capabilities. Nataliya Bugayova recently published a detailed report on how Putin has used a series of offsetting approaches to achieve his goals and how Putin has evolved these approaches since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. She joins Overwatch today to talk about her report and its findings.
38 minutes | 2 months ago
E39: US Presence in Syria Remains a Critical Component in the Fight against ISIS
The United States retains a small but highly effective force in Syria. This force has a clear mission: defeat ISIS and prevent the resurgence of extremist groups in eastern Syria. However, poor communication and muddled media coverage has contributed to a lack of clarity regarding the role and mission of US forces. In this episode of Overwatch, Jennifer Cafarella and Eva Kahan cut through the confusion to provide a clear assessment of the purpose, status, and likely future of US forces in Syria.
35 minutes | 3 months ago
E38: General Jack Keane (US Army, Retired) Reflects on the 9/11 Attacks and the Ongoing War on Terror
ISW Board Chairman General Jack Keane (US Army, Retired) is a foreign policy and national security expert who was in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. He went on to provide oversight and support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On this episode of Overwatch, General Keane (Ret.) recounts his experiences on the day of the attack and gives his perspectives on the ensuing 19 years of war.
25 minutes | 3 months ago
E37: Local Unrest Threatens to Undermine Primary US Partner Force in Northeast Syria
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the local US partner force in northeast Syria, is facing intense pressure from ISIS, the Syrian Regime, and Turkey. The SDF’s already-fraught relations with local Arab tribes have deteriorated significantly, especially in Deir ez-Zour Province. These issues came to a head in August when the assassination of several tribal sheikhs triggered a tribal backlash against the SDF. In this episode of Overwatch, Eva Kahan, John Dunford, and Jason Zhou discuss the escalating situation in Deir ez-Zour and what it means for US national security.
25 minutes | 3 months ago
E36: Russia Threatens to Turn Belarus Unrest into Major International Crisis
Belarus has been in a state of civil unrest for several weeks. As popular protests came to pose a genuine threat to President Lukashenko's regime, Russia became involved to protect its interests in the country. Since then, the situation in Belarus has become exponentially more complicated, evolving from a relatively straightforward domestic dispute between a strongman president and his disgruntled citizens into an international debacle that involves Russia, Poland, Lithuania, NATO, and the EU. In this episode of Overwatch, ISW’s Mason Clark and George Barros draw on their daily coverage of Belarus to unpack what the situation there means for US national security.
21 minutes | 3 months ago
E35: Trump Says US Forces Are Leaving Iraq Soon, Undermining Visiting Iraqi Prime Minister
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was in Washington this week for high-level bilateral meetings known as the US-Iraqi Strategic Dialogue. Kadhimi has been hard-charging toward reforms in Iraq that would combat Iranian influence and prevent the country from collapse, but these efforts will be undermined by Trump's call to leave Iraq soon. In this episode of Overwatch, Nicholas Heras and Katherine Lawlor discuss Kadhimi’s position, the future of Iraq, and whether he remains a viable US partner.
21 minutes | 4 months ago
E34: ISIS Escalates Violence in Turkish-held Parts of Northwest Syria
Claimed ISIS attacks in Turkish and opposition-controlled northwest Syria have spiked in the past two months. The United States scaled down its forces in Syria and Iraq after the defeat of the Islamic State’s contiguous territorial caliphate in 2019. US policy-makers have since focused on empowering local forces who fought in the anti-ISIS coalition, including NATO ally Turkey. However, Turkey’s commitment to this fight remains uncertain. In this episode of Overwatch, Eva Kahan, ISW’s Evans-Hanson fellow, discusses these issues and what they mean for US national security.
15 minutes | 4 months ago
E33: The Kremlin and Kyiv Agree to New Ceasefire in Ukraine
Russia is offering rare support for a new ceasefire in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas by not blaming Ukraine for recent ceasefire violations, despite derailing several similar ceasefires in the past. The ceasefire began on July 27 and represents an important new development in the now six-year-old conflict between the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed proxy forces in eastern Ukraine. In this episode of Overwatch, Mason Clark and George Barros explain the significance of the ceasefire and what Ukraine and Russia hope to achieve from it.
22 minutes | 4 months ago
E32: Al Qaeda Infighting in Syria Tests Loyalty of Foreign Fighters
Al Qaeda-linked groups Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Hurras al Din clashed in late June and early July and remain at odds as defections prompted by the former’s increasingly pro-Turkish posture continue. Al Qaeda is backing fighters from a diverse set of groups and HTS has likely secured Turkish support, making the persistence of a Salafi-jihadist haven in Syria very likely. In this episode of Overwatch, Nicholas Heras and Isabel Ivanescu discuss the causes and implications of the recent infighting.
33 minutes | 4 months ago
E31: Brawl between Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Africa May Strengthen Salafi-Jihadi Movement
The Islamic State and Al Qaeda are locked in a struggle for ideological supremacy in Africa. While this fight may seem appealing to the US, it presents some dangerous pitfalls that threaten US national security and the well-being of millions of Africans. In this episode of Overwatch, Emily Estelle, the research manager of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, explains how a fight between two US adversaries could catalyze greater challenges in the future.
25 minutes | 4 months ago
E30: Putin Rigs Constitutional Amendment to Extend His Presidency beyond 2024
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently enacted a constitutional amendment that will allow him to run for president again in 2024 and potentially remain in power until 2036. This amendment is a critical accomplishment for Putin, as term limits threatened to force him from office in 2024, but it came with a steep price in terms of legitimacy. In this episode of Overwatch, Nataliya Bugayova, Mason Clark, and George Barros discuss the nuanced steps Putin took to secure this constitutional change and what the next 16 years of his leadership could mean for the Russian people and US national security.
25 minutes | 5 months ago
E29: US Launches New Round of Sanctions Targeting Syrian Regime
The Syrian Civil War is well into its ninth year and shows little sign of ending. The US recently deployed a new wave of sanctions targeting the Syrian Regime. Meanwhile, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are actively interfering with the UN peace process by running their own competing negotiations. In this episode of Overwatch, ISW Middle East Program Manager Nicholas Heras and Syria Research Assistant John Dunford discuss these efforts and the complex webs through which they interact.
34 minutes | 5 months ago
E28: Pandemic Presents New Challenges and Opportunities for US National Security
The global health crisis caused by COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of American society and government. The pandemic has forced changes to individual lifestyles as well as the highest levels of policymaking. In this episode of Overwatch, ISW National Security Fellow Jennifer Cafarella discusses the challenges, threats, and opportunities that COVID-19 presents to US national security.
33 minutes | 5 months ago
E27: US Ally Egypt Threatens Military Move into Libya against NATO Member Turkey
Egypt is preparing a military intervention to prevent Turkish-backed forces from advancing into eastern Libya. The intervention raises the risk of direct conflict with Turkey, which could spread throughout the region. Meanwhile, Russia is positioned to benefit from rising tensions between Turkey and fellow NATO members. In this episode of Overwatch, Emily Estelle, Research Manager for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses these issues and others.
19 minutes | 5 months ago
E26: Future of US Troop Presence and Iraqi Security Uncertain as Strategic Dialogue Begins
The future of the roughly 5,000 US military personnel in Iraq is a key topic in a strategic dialogue that recently began between US and Iraqi negotiators. Iraqi opinion is split between those who oppose the continued US presence and those who believe it remains essential to Iraqi security. In the background, Iran and its Iraq-based political and militant proxies are pushing for the complete withdrawal of US forces. In this episode of Overwatch, Katherine Lawlor, Brandon Wallace, and Jason Zhou discuss the present state of affairs in Iraq and the implications of a possible US force withdrawal.
16 minutes | 5 months ago
E25: The Role of the Military in Civilian Unrest: Lessons from Iraq
The Hill recently published an op-ed by Institute for the Study of War Senior Fellow Lieutenant General Jim Dubik (US Army, Retired). Dubik is one of America's preeminent experts on military ethics. His latest op-ed draws on his experience with the US counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq and uses the lessons he learned in that conflict to critique the US government's response to recent protests inside the US. In this episode of Overwatch, ISW Editor Jacob Taylor speaks to Lt. Gen. Dubik about the purpose of his op-ed and his suggested improvements to the government's decision-making process.
Terms of Service
© Stitcher 2020