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The Intelligence Review | volume 2 | issue 4 |

This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a student-run initiative supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Four CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. Topics in this volume include the possibility of a war with North Korea, and the rise of far-right militancy in the United States. The volume also includes an assessment of the impact of the Islamic State in the relations between Russia and the United States, and a discussion of Turkish politics and its effect on NATO's cohesion.

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The second scenario is that free elections are not held and the Assad regime remains in power with the help of Russia. In this scenario, it is likely that the US would continue to “secretly” support opposition groups, providing financial and possibly even military aid. Essentially, this scenario cannot be classified as a “resolution”, because it would constitute a continuation of the Civil War minus ISIS. This scenario would increase tensions between the US and Russia to Cold War levels and turn Syria into one of history’s longest proxy wars between the two powers. Based on the level of UN involvement in Syria, there is a low level of confidence that this scenario will occur. The Trump Administration, or more accurately, former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has publicly articulated his intent to remove Assad from power. Evidence of this could be seen when WikiLeaks documents revealed that the US State Department had financially supported Syrian opposition groups (Whitlock 2011). Tillerson’s successor, Mike Pompeo, is in agreement with that line of policy. Based on the recent history of US foreign policy, a continuation of this stance makes sense for the Trump administration. Additionally, an opposition leader in the Syrian government would be sympathetic towards the US, thus gaining Washington another ally in the region. With ISIS becoming less powerful every week, the need for a political resolution in Syria becomes more prevalent. The US should begin to adamantly talk about free elections in Syria, in an effort to create the atmosphere needed for them to occur. Ideally, multilateral resolution talks between the UN, the US, Russia, and Syria should have already begun to increase the chances of a peaceful and favorable solution to the Syrian Civil War. Conclusion Despite the façade of cooperation and agreeance, the relationship between the US and Russia has not improved in recent weeks. With the US supporting the opposition and Russia supporting the Assad regime in Syria, the common enemy found in ISIS is not enough to maintain good relations. As the Cruise missile strike on the Syrian airbase proved, this disagreement can be highly detrimental to US-Russian interactions in Syria. However, the G-20 summit in Germany and the Vietnam Summit have shown that ISIS has also forced dialogue and cooperation between Washington and Moscow. A political resolution to the Syrian Conflict is necessary, and the Trump Administration should begin pushing for free elections. Therefore, based on evidence in this analysis, it can be stated with high confidence that Sunni armed extremism has complicated US-Russian relations, while simultaneously forcing dialogue. 42

References Cited Anonymous (2013) “Guide to the Syrian Rebels” BBC, 13 December. Anonymous (2017a) “G-20: Trump and Putin Hold First Face-to-Face Talks”, BBC, 7 July. Anonymous (2017b) “Russia Preparing to Withdraw Military Contingent from Syriasecurity chief”, Russia Today, 30 November. Anonymous (2017c) “US and Russia Agree New Ceasefire Deal”, Al Jazeera, 8 July. Anonymous (2018) “Syria: Timeline of the Civil War and US Response” ABC Australia, 22 February. Dugulin, R. (2016) “The Emerging Islamic State Threat in the North Caucasus”. International Policy Digest, 04 April. Erickson, A. and Vitkovskaya, J. (2017) “How the Diplomatic Fight Between Russia and US Unfolded”, The Washington Post, 5 September. Finnegan, C. (2017) “A Look at the Factions Battling in Syria’s Civil War”, ABC News, 11 April. Graham-Harrison, E. (2017) “A Visual Guide to the US Missile Strikes on a Syrian Airbase”, The Guardian, 7 April. Merica, D. (2017) “Trump, Putin Shake Hands, Chat Multiple Times at Asia-Pacific Summit”, CNN, 11 November. Nichols, M. (2017) “US Priority on Syria no Longer Focused on ‘Getting Assad Out’: Haley”, Reuters, 30 March. Stent, A. (2014) The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. Rohde, D. and Mohammed, A. (2014) “Special Report: How the US made its Putin problem worse”, Reuters, 18 April. US Department of State (2017) “Joint Statement by the President of the United States and the President of the Russian Federation”, Washington, DC, United States. Vincent-Caro, C. J. (2017) “Moscow’s Historical Relationship with Damascus: Why it Matters Now”, The Huffington Post (no date provided). Whitlock, C. (2011) “US Secretly Backed Syrian Opposition Groups, Cables Released by WikiLeaks Show”, The Washington Post, 17 April. 43

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