Recent moves by Bashar al-Assad in the security sphere show the embattled Syrian president still has cards to play to preserve his power, despite having sacrificed much influence to Iran and Russia to secure his regime’s survival in the civil war.
The Islamic State (ISIS) is a much more potent force in Syria than it was mere months ago. It is moving around more freely, carrying out lethal attacks against its various enemies, and entering villages to warn locals against cooperating with the Kurds, the Syrian regime, or the international coalition.
Uighur transnational jihadists fighting in Syria have served as a force multiplier for insurgents there. Without a substantial intervention by the United States, Uighur fighters could gain ground in Idlib, the only Syrian province that still has a large local and foreign jihadist presence.
Despite the situation in Deir ez-Zor regarding the lingering threat of ISIS and challenges of rebuilding after so much destruction,