Landis in the News 2019

PBS Newshour
Intensified offensive in Idlib province puts Syrian civilians on the run
December 24, 2019

One of the problems with Idlib is, it’s the largest collection of al-Qaida-affiliated fighters in — left in the world.

And there are about 30,000 militants. This is why the international community is not coming to the defense of these rebels, because they don’t — they’re torn. We saw that America just destroyed caliph Baghdadi, who was in Idlib province. Many ISIS members have taken refuge there.

Al Arabiya
Interview with Dr. Landis
November 29, 2019

Dr. Landis’ interview starts at 33:00 minutes.

Lobe Log
Q&A: Syria, The U.S., And The Incoherence Of Donald Trump’s Incoherence
November 7, 2019

To get some perspective on what has been a rapidly developing situation, LobeLog spoke with Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and expert on Syria.

“In many ways, our foreign policy in the Middle East has become dissociated from the broader national interest and certainly from public opinion. This is a problem for any elected official, because we’ve spent—as Trump continually reminds us—six or seven trillion dollars in the Middle East for nothing, or what seems to be nothing to the American public. Politicians can’t really explain what that money has bought us. With a foreign policy establishment that has become very anti-Iran and very pro-Israel, and is willing to spend trillions of dollars to pursue these policies, the American people feel like they’ve been abandoned by Washington,” Landis said.

How much did Turkey know about Baghdadi’s location in Syria?
November 4, 2019

“It seems clear that Huras al-Din knew of Baghdadi’s presence and was receiving money from ISIS,” Landis said, referring to al-Qaeda’s unofficial affiliate in Idlib. Recently uncovered ISIS documents purportedly show that the group paid at least $67,000 in protection money to Huras al-Din.

Landis added that while we can’t know for sure if HTS leader Julani knew about Baghdadi’s presence “he does claim to control the Idlib enclave and HTS is the dominant force there.”

If U.S. Takes Syrian Oil, It May Violate International Laws Against Pillage
October 31, 2019

The U.S. has not declared war on the Assad regime, but University of Oklahoma Middle East scholar Joshua Landis told NPR that the occupation of the Deir el-Zour oil fields by U.S. forces is really all about keeping the government that owns that oil from having it. “The main reason for America to retain that oil is to deny it to Assad,” Landis says. “This is not about ISIS — this is about greater policy in Syria, to hurt the Assad regime and to gain and retain leverage on the part of America.”

U.S. Celebration of ISIS Raid May Be Short-lived as Turmoil Brews
October 31, 2019

This articles features a tweet from Dr. Landis. “US policy is real in melt down phase,” he tweeted.

The New Yorker
Trump’s Baffling Plan to Pillage Syria’s Oil
October 30, 2019

Most of all, the new policy—which may keep some five hundred American troops in Syria—wasn’t well thought out, U.S. officials and Middle East experts told me. Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, described it as “cockamamie.”

Fact Check: President Trump’s Plans For Syrian Oil
October 28, 2019

That would be a costly undertaking, according to Joshua Landis, who directs the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “This whole oil region needs to be rebuilt,” Landis said. “So if America is going to get in the business of retaining these oil fields, it will have to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, in theory, to make them exploitable.”

The Arab Weekly
Sochi deal keeps US troops, Kurds out of oil-rich area
October 26, 2019

“Putin’s offer to use his diplomatic skills to defuse escalating tensions in the Middle East could not come at a better time — particularly because the American foreign policy process is in shambles,” University of Oklahoma Professor Joshua Landis said.

The Future of U.S. Troops in Syria
October 26, 2019

Joshua Landis at the University of Oklahoma said that ISIS started with these refineries that were sort of the size of container-sized trucks. The U.S. found those, bombed those. Then they started selling the crude oil to people who were building big stills and boiling the oil. And those got bombed. And then ultimately, he said it evolved from there.

Trump Considering Keeping U.S. Troops in Syria To Safeguard Oil Fields From ISIS
October 25, 2019

Dr. Landis says that “the main reason for America to retain that oil is to deny it to Assad. This is not about ISIS. This is about greater policy in Syria to hurt the Assad regime and to gain and retain leverage on the part of America.”

We Can’t Keep the Oil
October 25, 2019

As Joshua Landis, editor of the Syria Comment website, notes, the Russians and Turks will in effect control the oil.

The Guam Daily Post
Who gains in the battle for Syria’s northeast?
October 17, 2019

“Damascus needs the Kurds. The Kurds and Damascus have two things in common: enmity for Turkey and a desire not to see Sunni rebel militias ruling the northeast of Syria,” said Joshua Landis, head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “But they don’t agree on anything when it comes to ruling northeast Syria.”

Hidden Forces Podcast
U.S. Withdrawal and the End of the Rules-Based Global Order
October 16, 2019

Demetri Kofinas speaks with Joshua Landis, a Middle East scholar and Syria expert about the disorderly withdrawal of American forces from Syria and the larger shift in the balance of power that we are seeing as nations scramble to remake alliances in the wake of America’s absence.

El pacto entre los kurdos y El Asad revoluciona el tablero de la guerra siria
October 15, 2019

Para Joshua Landis, académico de la Universidad de Oklahoma, “el juego ha cambiado” con el pacto entre kurdos y Damasco, e incluso se han simplificado un tanto.

“Ahora que EE UU está fuera de la ecuación, hay más posibilidades de que dos actores estatales [Siria y Turquía] puedan alcanzar un acuerdo,” si bien el camino por delante es complicado, añade Landis: “El apoyo turco a la oposición siria y a milicias islamistas, así como sus aparentes ambiciones territoriales, enfurecen a Damasco. Además, hay parte de la población árabe [en territorio bajo dominio kurdo] aterrorizada por un regreso del régimen.”

Background Briefing with Ian Masters
The Kurds Desperate Deal with Assad and Russia
October 15, 2019

Ian Masters interviews Dr. Joshua Landis over recent Kurdish strategic endeavors.

France 24
Syria’s Kurds, US allies of convenience, left in the lurch
October 15, 2019

“Trump has decided that Turkey is much more important than the Kurds,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “And I ultimately don’t think that’s just Trump’s decision – America sees Turkey as much more important to its interests,” Landis said.

PBS NewsHour
What Trump’s Syria withdrawal means for the Kurds, Russia and American allies
October 14, 2019

“The notion of pulling out of Syria is, I think, well-made. And there’s no good way to pull out of Syria. The real mistake was getting into Iraq and invading Iraq and turning over the apple cart in this region to begin with. But Americans don’t see any benefit coming out of these wars.”

With U.S. letdown, Syrian Kurdish leaders lose bargaining chip
October 14, 2019

Despite oil trade and shared enmity towards Turkey, Damascus and the Kurds “don’t agree on anything when it comes to ruling northeast Syria,” said Joshua Landis, head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “Where they are going to have big differences is over language, the schooling, the military autonomy, all the mechanisms of self-rule.”

Washington Times
Trump’s bid to end ‘forever wars’ undercut by Saudi troop deployment
October 14, 2019

“President Trump is making our policy in the Middle East a policy of countering Iran,” said Joshua Landis, who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“He does want to get us out of these ‘forever wars.’ You could see it with his push for talks in Afghanistan and now the pullback in Syria. He campaigned on it, and he wants to pump it now for domestic political purposes.”

US troops ‘leave’ Kobani as Turkish incursion advances and Kurds make deal with Damascus
October 14, 2019

With the Syrian Army on the move, pressure is mounting on Turkey, according to Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“The Syrian government is going to try to go across and get the oilfields, the gas fields that are so crucial for Syria’s economic wellbeing,” he said, adding that they also want to take control over prime agricultural land and the Tabqa Dam, which the Americans and the Kurds have held. Landis fears that without enough diplomatic effort, an all-out war could break out between Turkey and Syria.

Erdogan Risks Syria Becoming Turkey’s ‘Vietnam’
October 12, 2019

“The US government has great hopes for the constitutional committee, which it believes can move Syria toward elections, overseen by the United Nations, that will replace President Assad,” Joshua Landis, a prominent Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, told WhoWhatWhy. Speaking shortly before Trump decided to pull US troops back, Landis added that this is a key reason why the US is keeping a force in northern Syria in the first place.

TRT World
Trump’s Syria U-Turn
October 10, 2019

Dr. Landis’ video interview begins at minute 16:02.

VOA News
Diplomacy Aims to Unite Kurds, Damascus Against Turkish Advance into Syria
October 10, 2019

Joshua Landis, who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, tells VOA that he “doubts the US government will allow the Syrian military to move north of the Euphrates River even if its YPG (Kurdish allies) asks for this.” “The US,” he says, “is an ally of Turkey and an enemy of (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad and Iran.”

U.S. Pulls Troops From Northern Syria Ahead Of Turkish Operation
October 8, 2019

Podcast interview with Dr. Joshua Landis, who is introduced at minute 16:34.

Australian Broadcasting Company (Podcast)
Turkey expected to invade Syria following US withdrawal
October 8, 2019

The US President’s decision to effectively give Turkey the green light to invade northern Syria has been met with contempt by America’s global partners and even prominent Republicans.

Dr. Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies from the University of Oklahoma, shares his expertise on the issue in this podcast.

Turkey: Military preparations for Syria incursion ‘complete’
October 8, 2019

Joshua Landis, a Syria analyst from the University of Oklahoma, said Trump’s move was the latest to throw American foreign policy into disarray.

“This shows a real collapse of the foreign policy process in the White House … People are guessing what America will do next. This is clearly not good,” he said.

The Organization for World Peace
One Step Closer To Peace In Syria: Constitutional Committee Formed
October 3, 2019

Joshua Landis, head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said in an interview with Aljazeera that he fears that if only Syrians decide the future of Syria without any people immersed from the international community, things might remain the same.

The Stock Podcast
Saudi Oil, Iran, and the Abqaiq Attack
September 28, 2019

The event was the single largest loss of Saudi oil production in history. Immediately after the attack, Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi’s claimed responsibility. However, Prof. Landis is convinced that Iran is ultimately responsible, and the country with the most to gain from an attack on Saudi oil infrastructure. In this interview, Prof. Landis also provides an explanation as to the strategic significance of Saudi oil and the Persian Gulf to the broader geopolitical interests of the US.

Al Jazeera
UN’s Guterres announces Syria constitutional committee formation
September 23, 2019

Joshua Landis, head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Al Jazeera it was “hard to hold up much hope” for the committee’s viability.

“The Syrian government has put its foot down and said that only Syrians are going to decide the future of Syria… It has won the war so it’s unlikely to allow for outside powers and the UN to change the constitution very much,” Landis said.

Le Figaro
L’Iran peut-il à son tour exercer une «pression maximale» sur les États-Unis et leurs alliés?
September 18, 2019

«L’Arabie saoudite soutiendrait une guerre entre les États-Unis et l’Iran si elle peut se cacher derrière Washington, mais pas une guerre où elle doit se placer en avant, car elle perdrait», analyse sur Twitter Joshua Landis, professeur associé à l’Université d’Oklahoma et spécialiste du Moyen-Orient.

The Week
Trump was actually smart to outsource U.S. military action in Iran to Saudi Arabia, Middle East expert argues
September 17, 2019

Trump’s tweet has some strategic merit, argues Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma. Landis isn’t arguing that Iran wasn’t behind the attack — in fact, Iran has a clear motive — but he notes that the Saudis have been more cautious in assigning blame to Iran than the Trump administration has, and Trump was more cautious than Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump also appears less than eager to get into another war in the Middle East — for good reason.

BPR Business & Politics
Dem Tulsi Gabbard: Trump acting like Saudi Arabia’s b***h
September 17, 2019

But according to Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma, Trump isn’t trying to “pimp” out the American people — he’s trying to deescalate tension by putting the onus of a potential war on Saudi Arabia.

“Trump is actually smart to kick the ball to the Saudis,” he tweeted over the weekend. “Everyone is saying, ‘What? Let the Saudis decide US foreign policy!’ But this is right out of Obama’s playbook when he sent the decision to bomb Syria to Congress, knowing they would not support it. KSA will not support war.”

The Times
Syria: Assad holds rich cousin so he can pay Putin’s war loans
August 31, 2019

Joshua Landis, an American academic with contacts close to the regime, said he understood that the row was largely about money.

KCBS Radio, The Crisis Next Door
Syria Turns on Turkey
August 30, 2019   On The Crisis Next Door, Jason Brooks talks about the latest developments in Syria with Professor Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.   Voice of America
Syria Fighter Jets Target Turkish Convoy in Syrian Territory
August 19, 2019

Joshua Landis, who heads the Department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma, tells VOA that Khan Sheikhoun is “extremely important to the Syrian government” because “it sits astride the main highway linking Damascus to the north of the country.” He says it is vital to the reconstruction of the country and viability of Syria’s northern capital, Aleppo.

The Arab Weekly
US-Turkey ‘safe zone’ augurs fracturing of Syria into foreign areas of influence
August 17, 2019

“Syria is unlikely to be unified for a long time,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“Turkey has territorial ambitions in Syria. Many influential groups in US foreign policy circles are also saying that the US should remain in north Syria for the long haul, which is not promising,” Landis said via e-mail.

New Delhi Times
Pentagon: Da’esh Slight Comeback Causing Stir in Region
August 9, 2019

Joshua Landis, who heads the Department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says Islamic State “remains a problem, despite the destruction of its caliphate.” He says that the group’s ideology remains strong among “the women and family members of IS fighters that have been placed in the al Hol camp,” and that many IS fighters “continue to carry out guerrilla attacks.” Al Hol is a Kurdish-run camp for those displaced from former Islamic State-controlled areas, including wives and children of former fighters.

Aljazeera YouTube
Can the U.S. and Turkey bridge their differences over Syria’s Kurds?
August 7, 2019

Dr. Landis’ interview begins at minute 5:09.

The Jerusalem Post
Civilian Tragedy in Idlib As Regional Players Continue To Fight It Out
August 2, 2019

However, noted Josh Landis, University of Oklahoma professor and director of the Center of Middle East Studies, following an eight-year-long battle against an array of rebel groups ranging from ISIS Islamists to Sunni opposition forces, the Assad regime has retaken an estimated 70 percent of Syrian territory and is determined to take reunify the country.

“Russia has consolidated a ‘row’ of states in the Middle East: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran – at least what they are trying to do and the USA is jockeying over power [there] with Russia and Iran in a continuation of the Cold War game,” Landis told The Media Line. “Russia sees the north of the Middle East as a part of its sphere of influence, so does Iran. There are more Shi’ite [Muslims] in the north.”

Voice of America
Syrian Refugees in Border Camp Face Humanitarian Crisis
July 25, 2019

Joshua Landis, who heads the Department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told VOA that the “Rukban camp has been a problem for years, with 50,000 people stuck in the middle of the desert.”

He said the Syrian government “originally refused to provide food and other supplies to the refugees there because it fell within an American no-fly zone and housed families of rebel fighters who were being trained and paid for by the U.S. to fight the Syrian government.”

Abdel-Basset al-Sarout: Controversial singer of Syria’s war
June 12, 2019

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said that al-Sarout’s participation in the rebellion was not marked by sectarian ideas at first.

“His revolutionary fervor passed through an initial period of youthful innocence and revolt in the name of dignity and freedom that was hardly marked by religion,” said Landis. “But a growing sense of despair and abandonment awakened in him a deep sense of sectarian anger, followed by a turn toward the Salafi-Jihadist ideology embraced by such groups as al-Qaeda and ISIS.”

My Search for a Tablecloth in Damascus Shows the Ravages of Syria’s Eight-Year War
May 29, 2019

“The loss of this traditional Syria is akin to losing one’s parents,” says Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Landis, whom I first met in Damascus in 2005 while he was on a fellowship, runs an influential Syria commentary forum.

“Syria was the memory and essence of the Middle East, and now it is largely gone,” says Landis, who’s married to a Syrian. “Syrians are in mourning and feel a terrible need to commemorate their sense of loss—not just for the many who have died, but also for the places and things that gave a particular texture to life.”

Sputnik International
Trump’s Iran Strategy Prompts Split in US Congress and White House
May 24, 2019

Joshua Landis, an American academic and the head of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, noted that the Democrats’ efforts to resist the Trump administration’s policy that could drag the US into a war with Iran are “weak.”

Voice of America
Could Blacklisting Muslim Brotherhood Complicate US Diplomacy in Middle East?
May 13, 2019

“For America to write off this important part of politics in the Middle East is really to hobble any kind of intellectual debate and the freedom of American diplomats to operate in this region,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Why Turkey is building a wall around Syria’s Afrin
May 13, 2019

Professor Joshua Landis, head of the Middle East Studies Department at the University of Oklahoma, said Turkey’s wall serves several purposes.

“The cement wall around Afrin represents a visual reminder of Turkish control,” he said. “It is meant to indicate to both inhabitants of Afrin and the world that the border is permanent; Ankara is serious about staying in north Syria. On a more practical level, the wall provides security against insurgents and those who seek to return Afrin to Kurdish control and expel the Turks and Arab militias.”

Turkey-backed FSA launches operation on Syria’s Tal Rifaat region
May 4, 2019

“In gaining Russian partnership to patrol Tal Rifaat, Turkey is using its regional leverage against the Kurds of northern Syria,” Professor Joshua Landis, a noted Syria expert and head of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Ahval.

“Russia is in effect punishing the YPG for its cooperation with the United States east of the Euphrates,” he said. “We don’t know what Russia has asked Turkey for in exchange for its Tal Rifaat cooperation.”

MPN News
US State Department Offers $4.5m Grant to “Investigate” Civilian Casualties in Syria and Iraq
May 1, 2019

The article features a Tweet from Dr. Landis, discussing U.S. presence in Syria.

Voice of America
Soleimani: Mastermind of Iran’s Mideast Expansion
April 12, 2019

“Soleimani does carry a lot of weight in the Iranian government,” said Joshua Landis, director of Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

“When Bashar [al-Assad of Syria] traveled to Iran earlier this year, Soleimani met with him rather than the foreign minister. It was a photo op, meant to boost moral inside Iran at a time of economic stress and sanctions. But it underlined the accomplishment of Soleimani in helping to win the war in Syria,” he added.

Global Finance
Rebuilding Syria
April 9, 2019

According to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, there is still a strong desire outside the region to see Assad pushed from office. “The Western international community is determined to keep Syria poor, in hopes of gaining leverage to use against Assad,” Landis says. “Western governments and UN agencies continue to propose a ‘political solution’ for Syria.”

Asia Times
Syria leases Mediterranean port to Iran
April 5, 2019

For Tehran, which is suffering under crippling US sanctions, a long-sought Mediterranean foothold is a potential game-changer. “Everyone wants a Silk Road nowadays, and ports are a good place to start,” said Oklahoma University Professor Joshua Landis, speaking to Asia Times.

“Iran dreams of building a strong regional economy based on trade, highways and pipelines that cross from Iran to the Mediterranean. Helping to build up Syrian ports is only one element in a much larger vision of prosperity and shared interests. Most important will be the day that Iran can sell its oil and gas to Europe by transporting across Iraq and Syria,” said Landis.

Suriye’yi bekleyen ikinci savaş
March 24, 2019

Oklahoma Üniversitesi’nden Joshua Landis ise, yolsuzluktan ekonomi politikasına ve Suriye’ye yönelik yaptırımlara kadar birçok konunun ilişkili olduğuna dikkat çekerek, “Suriye’de durum daha da kötüleşecek” diye konuştu.

Joshua Landis ise, yolsuzluğun birçok Ortadoğu ülkesi gibi Suriye’nin de on yıllardır çözemediği bir sorun olduğuna dikkat çekti.

Suriye’deki sistemi “bütün bölgede olduğu gibi yönetim güvenlik ve istikrar sağlar, halk politik haklarından vazgeçer, soru sormaz” şeklinde tanımlayan Landis’e göre, Suriye’ye yönelik yaptırımların da etkisiyle “her işin masa altında halledildiği yolsuzluk üzerine kurulu, şeffaflığın olmadığı bir sistem inşa edildi.”

Anatomy of a ‘caliphate’: The rise and fall of ISIL
March 23, 2019

According to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, “hit-and-run” attacks executed by ISIL sleeper cells are going to persist in both Iraq and Syria.

As such, “ISIL is far from being destroyed as a terrorist organization,” Landis adds.

Sputnik International Radio
Academic: Many People Hope to Profit from Close Saudi Arabia-US Relations
March 21, 2019

Radio Sputnik has discussed the issue of US-Saudi Arabia nuclear deals with Joshua Landis, an American academic who specializes in the Middle East and the head of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Turkey and Russia strike jihadist weapons, boost cooperation in Syria
March 14, 2019

In a tweet on Wednesday, Joshua Landis, director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma, described the bombing as an “effort to pre-empt attacks on Hmeimim airbase & solidify cooperation on Idlib deal.”

Oklahoma Channel 9 News
Turkey Cries Terrorism After First Lady’s Visit To Tulsa
March 13, 2019

OU professor of International Studies Joshua Landis said the visit opened “an ongoing wound” between the US and Turkey. He added it didn’t do anything to improve a relationship which has “soured” in recent years as the US has continued to back Kurdish forces in the region, which Erdogan also views as a terrorist organization. He added the First Lady and her staff likely walked into a situation they didn’t realize was so sensitive.

France 24
Eight years on, Assad clings on but beleaguered
March 13, 2019

Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma, painted a grim picture. “The Syrian map is one of division and despair,” he said. “Over 30 percent of the country is occupied by foreign governments who have built and funded local militaries.”

Aljazeera Podcast
Syria In or Out
March 1, 2019

Australian Radio Interview – Rear Vision
Is the war over in Syria?
March 1, 2019

VOA News
Syrian Kurds Seek Other Means of Trying IS Militants
Feb 26, 2019

For the SDF, however, to appropriately address the issue of IS foreign fighters, some experts like Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, offers a different approach.

“The SDF could make a deal with the Syrian government to try the ISIS members for killing Syrians, just as the SDF has done by turning them over to the Iraqi government, which will try them for killing Iraqis,” he told VOA.

Ahval Podcast
No actor involved in Syrian conflict supports the Turkish version of the buffer zone
Feb 16, 2019

Podcast interview with Dr. Joshua Landis, Director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies.

Syria: Civilians face familiar threats in rebel-held areas
Feb 16, 2019

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said that Turkey’s influence over Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham has waned.

“Turkey is supposed to control Idlib, but it does not. HTS has defied Turkish requests all along,” he said. He added that the fear that the Syrian government might still invade Idlib is possibly causing the group to opt for desperate measures.

“At any moment Syria could decide to invade forcing the HTS fighters to flee,” he said. “No doubt, many are looking to feather their nests or stash away money to ensure they can smuggle themselves out of Syria to some safer place.”

Sochi talks highlight Russia’s upper hand in Syria
Feb 16, 2019

Professor Joshua Landis, a noted Syria expert and Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, pointed out that the three powers welcome the announced U.S. withdrawal from Syria “but beyond that, their disagreements over how to settle the disputed territories of north Syria were glaring,”

“Turkey is still pressing to control a buffer zone inside the length of its Syria border,” he said. “Neither Russia or Iran agree with this, not to mention the Syrian government or the YPG.”

“Syria, Iran and Russia insist that HTS must be removed from Idlib and the province restored to Syrian sovereignty. They insist Turkey has not fulfilled its side of the Sochi agreement to bring the terrorist group to heel.”

What next as battle against ISIL nears an end?
Feb 13, 2019

Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said once the battle against ISIL was won, historical rivalries among the Arabs and Kurds would resurface.

“The Jazeera region of Syria is framed with minorities, ethnic and religious,” he said. “It has always presented a difficult challenge for rulers whether Ottoman franchises or Damascene. Today the situation is even more challenging because there has been so much violence, destruction and impoverishment. And Arabs and Kurds are bound to compete and come to blows over political and economic power.”

Sputnik International
Islam vs Societal Ethics: Scholars on How Public Perception Affects Religion
Feb 13, 2019

For his part, Joshua Landis, an American academic who specializes in the Middle East, presumed that public opinion could have been shaped by the long string of revolutions in the MENA region.

“Middle Eastern societies are going through a period of crisis and revolution,” Landis noted. “The Iranian revolution was the first Islamist revolution. It turned out a secular, pro-Western government. The Arab uprisings of 2011 are in some ways a continuation of this upheaval. Many secular, military leaders have fallen as a result or, in the case of Syria, almost fallen.”

Military Times
ISIS car bomb targets US troops in Syria one week after four Americans were killed in Manbij
Jan 22, 2019

“The argument that ISIS is going to come back if America leaves Syria seems spurious to me,” Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Military Times in September.

Landis suggested that the U.S. should get out of Syria and “allow the country to knit itself back together.”

“What America is doing today, which is dividing Syria without spending significant money to rebuild, is going to open the doors for al-Qaida or ISIS to come back,” Landis said. “We’re just keeping this hollowed-out region, hollowed out.”

Turkey ready to take over Syria’s Manbij, Erdogan tells Trump
Jan 21, 2019

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Al Jazeera that Erdogan did not want to talk to the security and foreign policy teams around Trump, as these officials want US troops to stay in Syria.

“Erdogan knows that Trump wants to leave Syria, so he only wants to talk to the US president, not his team,” Landis told Al Jazeera.

“People around Trump believe troops should stay in northern Syria to continue with the fight against ISIL, roll back Iran, and protect the Kurdish fighters there,” he added.

Kurdistan 24
U.S. reaffirms commitment to protecting Kurdish allies
Jan 21, 2019

On Saturday, following a two-day visit to Ankara, US Senator Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina) called for a major delay in the pace of the US withdrawal, warning that an unplanned, uncoordinated departure of US forces could lead to a “nightmare” for Turkey, which could face “chaos” on its southern border.

The following day, on Sunday, Erdogan and Trump had another phone conversation. Prof. Joshua Landis, who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, suggested to the Qatari news channel, Al-Jazeera, that Erdogan was reaching out to Trump, in the belief that Trump was more sympathetic to his views than Trump’s advisers.

The National Interest
Will the ISIS Attack Accelerate Trump’s Syria Pullout?
Jan 16, 2019

“The danger to U.S. troops is much higher in Manbij, where Turkey and the U.S. faced off and Turkey demanded that the YPG, or Kurdish forces, not be present. This required the U.S. to go out on patrols, which puts them at great risk. If the U.S. decides to police a buffer zone between Turkey and the Kurdish parts of Syria, more Americans will be killed,” said Oklahoma University Professor Joshua Landis, who heads their Center for Middle East Studies.

The kind of policing mission Landis describes makes the deaths of U.S. troops “probably inevitable,” in his words, and creates increasing liabilities on the ground.

RT News
Leaving Syria?
Jan 16, 2019

Dr. Landis’s interview begins at 1:23 minutes.

What’s the U.S. Plan for Iran?
Jan 14, 2019

Dr. Landis’s interview begins at 3:05 minutes.

The Arab Weekly
Ankara might not have free hand in Syria after U.S. exit
Jan 13, 2019

The development could reinforce efforts by the Assad government to regain international acceptance after almost eight years of war, said Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. The “YPG will patch up relations with Damascus as soon as US troops pull,” Landis wrote on Twitter.

If Damascus teams up with the Kurds to fight ISIS in eastern Syria, the United States will face a dilemma, Landis wrote.

“If Assad and the YPG begin to cooperate on counterterrorism, Washington will have to follow. This, I believe, is what really infuriates the Bolton crowd. US policy has been to turn out Assad, not to reopen relations with him,” he said.

Chaotic Haggling Follows Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Plan
Jan 11, 2019

“The real danger of a Syria withdrawal for the Bolton crowd is that it will force the US to reopen relations with the Assad government, especially on counter-terrorism & ISIS,” tweeted Joshua Landis, a prominent Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “It would be final blow to Washington’s anti-Syria & anti-Iran policy. It will be a blow to Israel. For it would mean that the world will slowly accept Iran’s new security architecture for the northern Middle East as the best form of counter-terrorism and security.”

Jihadi takeover of Idlib could spell trouble for Syrian Kurds
Jan 10, 2019

Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Al Jazeera that the al-Qaeda-affiliated militia was stronger and better led, while Turkey-sponsored NFL collapsed.

“HTS’s conquest of Atareb and Darat Izza dashes any notion that the National Liberation Front that was cobbled together by Turkey to act as a new Syrian national army is actually a cohesive or effective fighting force,” Al Jazeera quoted Landis as saying.

VOA News
Pompeo Meets Top Iraqi Officials During Unannounced Visit to Baghdad
Jan 9, 2019

Joshua Landis, who heads the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma, tells VOA that Secretary Pompeo is facing a strategic dilemma in Iraq: “America’s position in Iraq, like its position in Syria, is on thin ice, because Iran — in Iraq — has really won the day and ultimately we’ve seen that the rise of sectarian sensibilities and sectarian animosities in the larger Middle East has undermined America’s position and strengthened Iran’s position, because Iran is (a majority) Shi’ite country…and the U.S. is seen to be a pro-Saudi, pro-Sunni, pro-Gulf country,” said Landis.

Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen
Vielleicht ist der Rückzug die beste Antwort
Jan 6, 2019

SRF News: Wie ernst ist es Trump mit seinen Abzugsplänen wirklich?

Joshua Landis: Es scheint ihm damit sehr ernst zu sein. Bolton und Aussenminister Mike Pompeo hatten Trump offenbar empfohlen, eine Anti-Iran Politik zu betreiben, mit dem Bekenntnis, lange in Syrien präsent zu bleiben. Und Trump lehnte es ab, das Dokument zu unterzeichnen.

Und jetzt müssen die beiden just jene Politik den Türken und den Israeli verkaufen, die sie gar nicht unterstützen. Wie macht man das?

Joshua Landis: Es zeigt, wie gross das Chaos im Weissen Haus ist. Trump hat Nationale Sicherheitsberater eingestellt, deren Ansichten sehr viel militaristischer sind als seine eigenen. Im Wahlkampf versprach Trump, er würde die USA aus ihren stupiden Kriegen herausholen, und er verurteilte die Nahost-Politik seiner Vorgänger Obama und Bush. Jetzt kehrt er zu seinen ursprünglichen Versprechen zurück, weil er schon den Wahlkampf für seine Wiederwahl in zwei Jahren betreibt. Das hat seine Berater überrascht: Sie dachten, sie könnten ihre eigene Nahost-Politik machen und Trump würde ihnen einfach folgen.

Manbij residents in limbo amid U.S. withdrawal uncertainty
Jan 5, 2019

Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was unlikely to give the Kurds complete autonomy, it might be open to some cultural concessions.

“For Kurds, there are bad choices all around,” he said. “But now, the Syrian government is entering America’s shoes. The Kurds may not be happy with this but that’s what they are likely to get.”

Landis said the people of Manbij had “kept their heads down” and refrained from expressing outright loyalty to either side in the war. They might now be better off sticking to the same playbook.

Vice News
How Trump’s Sudden Withdrawal From Syria Is Bringing the Kurds and Assad Together
Jan 4, 2019

Among all the bad options for the Kurds, Assad’s return to the northeast region, where Mabij is located, appears to be the least catastrophic outcome — even considering their decades-long abuse at the hands of his family’s rule.

“There is a deal to be made,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma. “The Syrian government needs the Kurds to help police the north and the Kurds needs the Syrian military to protect them against the Turks.”

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