Dr. Jonathan Spyer
Expert on Syria, Iraq, radical Islamic groups, and KurdsEmail: email@example.com
Dr. Jonathan Spyer is one of the very few Western/Israeli experts to have traveled extensively in Syria, Iraq and the Kurdish areas during the recent years of conflict. He is the author of Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars (Routledge, December 2017), and The Transforming Fire: the Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2010). He is a regular contributor to Jane’s Intelligence Review, has published in leading journals and media outlets including Middle East Quarterly, Times (of London), Foreign Policy, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Haaretz, Atlantic, Australian, National Post, Globe and Mail, Jerusalem Report, Jerusalem Post and others; and has appeared on CNN, al-Jazeera, Fox, BBC, Sky, and other outlets. He holds a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics and an MA in Middle East politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Expert on Syria, Iraq, radical Islamic groups, and Kurds
Current Trends in Syria and the Israeli national interest
The most significant political process underway concerning Syria is the attempt by several Arab states to secure the diplomatic rehabilitation of the Assad regime and the normalization of relations with Syria. This comes even as the government has yet to assert its authority over the entirety of its territory.
The Situation in Iraq: Policy Implications for the West
A key aspect of the ongoing political crisis in Iraq is the anger directed at foreign meddling, and specifically, at the role played by Iran and its proxies. The IRGC Qods Force has penetrated deep into Iraqi power structures over the last 15 years. Weakening and possibly reducing this Iranian grip, through an appeal to Iraqi nationalism, will not solve Iraq's profound problems. Among other challenges, the Islamic State still has influence in some Sunni areas. Nevertheless, countering Iran's power is still an achievable goal, worth pursuing.
Armed Opposition Groups in Iran
Armed opposition groups emerging from the Kurdish, Baloch and Ahvazi Arab minorities have stepped-up attacks on regime assets in Iran. Tehran is responding by acting against these opponents, in Pakistan and Iraq and further afield. But these insurgencies are not capable by themselves of calling the regime’s viability into question, because of their relatively narrow bases of support.
The Rise of Iraq’s Shia Militias: An Emergent Threat to Israel
The Iraqi Shi'ite militias form a single, numerous and increasingly able component of the military and paramilitary assets available to Iran in its efforts. They substantially increase the scope for Iranian disruption in the region, and may significantly increase Iranian capabilities in the event of a war on Israel’s northern front
On Developing a Coherent US Regional Strategy Towards Iran, and Iran’s Likely Response
The US can and should develop a coherent region-wide strategy, involving US allies including Israel, to impede Iran’s ability to continue developing in ways detrimental to the region’s security. However, Iran is proficient in the practice of using proxies and paramilitary methods, as well as in the combination of paramilitary and political struggle. Its response to a US-led strategy to contain and roll back their influence is likely to focus on these areas.
Israel at 70 in a Transformed Middle East: Threats and Opportunities
None of the new threats in the region constitutes a threat to the viability or continued existence of the State of Israel. Israel at 70 appears well equipped to navigate the instabilities, and even to benefit from them in certain areas.
Latest Killings in Iran May Indicate a Notable Shift in Israeli Strategy
A notable change of the rules of engagement has taken place, in which the totality of Iranian actions will now be opposed, also on Iranian soil. The strike on the UAV fleet at Kermanshah and the assassination of Colonel Khodai in Tehran were the first manifestations of this new approach.
The Significance of Events in Yemen for the Mideast Strategic Equation
The US decision to withdraw support from the battle against the Houtis in Yemen signals a change of direction away from staunch backing of Western allies in the contest with Iran, and towards an attempt at “balancing” between rival regional powers, along the lines attempted by the Obama Administration.
The Murder of Sheikh Bashir Faisal al-Huwaidi in Raqqa
The killing of prominent Arab tribal leader Sheikh Bashir Faisal al-Huwaidi has serious implications for the US and Kurdish administered part of Syria, in which Raqqa is located. That administration of Syria has many enemies and remains fragile.
The Future of Eastern Syria and the Israeli Interest
JISS fellow Dr. Jonathan Spyer travelled in late July to the SDF enclave in eastern Syria. He reports that maintenance of this enclave is critical to keeping a substantial physical obstacle to the Iranian goal of a contiguous corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.
Is southern Syria heading for ‘Lebanonization’?
The likely emergent picture in Syria, as in Lebanon, is the ongoing consolidation of another IRGC project, in the framework of a weakened and truncated Arab state, along with an ongoing Israeli effort to deter the masters of this project from acts of aggression.
Under fire but unfazed, Israel plays the waiting game with Iran
Does Israel require that all presence of the Iranians be removed from Syria, down to the last proxy fighter? If so, then conflict between Tehran and Jerusalem is a near inevitability, since there is no chance of Iran acquiescing to this except by coercion. On the other hand, if the Israeli intention is to prevent the Iranians from transferring certain weapons systems into Syria — advanced anti-aircraft systems, ballistic missiles, drones — then conflagration may not be so imminent.
The Arrest of Saleh Muslim: Escalation in Kurdish-Turkish Tensions
How the arrest of this Kurdish leader is handled will indicate the extent to which the Syrian Kurds’ central role in the fight against the Islamic State has accrued some broader political legitimacy for their leadership. This, in turn, has implications for the troubled relationship between the West and Turkey.
New joint ventures hint at ‘burgeoning relationship’ between Israel and India.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer: No other burgeoning relationship, whether Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore or Japan, has the dimensions, depth and shared interests as India does for Israel.
“There’s no panic or despair. But a deep sense of betrayal”
Turkey’s Syria offensive could displace over a million Kurds, top analyst Jonathan Spyer warns. Believes Kurds will reject Israeli offer of humanitarian aid.
Experts Divided Over US Decision on Golan Heights.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer: Israel's de facto control of the Golan is not in doubt, and there is no likelihood in the foreseeable future of any serious attempt by any force to change this situation.
Russia and Israel step back from brink after Syria downs military plane.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer: Russia will not stand in the way of Israeli operations to stop Iranian expansion, knowing how existential they are seen in Jerusalem.
on the nexus between Syria, Iran, Russia and Israel
Dr Jonathan Spyer discusses how the interests of Russia, Iran and Israel are influencing the situation in Syria as the civil war draws to an end.
Suspected Israeli strikes hit Iran-linked targets in Syria, escalating regional tensions.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer of JISS: With Israel determined to prevent the “consolidation and entrenchment” of Iranian influence in Syria, “the chances of confrontation between Israel and Iran are quite significant.”
'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED' IN SYRIA WOULD BE BLESSING FOR ASSAD, TROUBLE FOR ISRAEL.
Dr. J. Spyer: Jerusalem remains concerned that the US and its partners are turning a blind eye to Iran's attempts to entrench itself in the country.