Steven Simon is John J. McCloy ’16 Visiting Professor at Amherst. He was National Security Council Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa from May 2011 to January 2013. His book The Long Goodbye: The US and the Middle East from the Islamic Revolution to the Arab Spring will be published next year. (May 2018)


Powder Keg in Syria

A Hezbollah supporter during a campaign speech by Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah near Beirut, Lebanon, April 2018
The air strike carried out against Syria on April 13 by the Unites States, Britain, and France—“Operation Desert Stormy” in Bill Maher’s memorable phrase—was carefully pegged to the alleged responsibility of the Assad regime for the chemical attack in Douma on April 7, which killed more than forty people and …

A Failure of Intelligence?

To understand why Americans did not recognize the true threat posed by the terrorists of al-Qaeda before September 11, consider the following exchanges. They are quoted from the transcripts of the testimony of Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl, the prosecution’s first witness in the trial for the bombings of two American embassies …


A New Plan for Syria

A Syrian soldier escorting men from Moadamiyeh, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, following a truce deal to relieve blockades and allow humanitarian aid to reach the area, October 29, 2013

The most realistic short-term US policy goal in Syria is to find ways to limit the areas of the country in direct conflict. This goal is not as far-fetched as it sounds, and there is already a basis for pursuing it: through a series of local cease-fires that could, if properly implemented and enforced, provide a path toward stability in several regions of the country, even as conflict continues elsewhere.