kurds

Kolbars carrying smuggled goods return from Iraq down the Kuh-e Takht mountain in Iran on Dec. 12, 2018. (Sergio Colombo and Andrea Prada Bianchi for Foreign Policy)

For Kurdish Smugglers, Iran Sanctions Are Starting to Bite

The kolbars brave subfreezing temperatures and border guards’ bullets to carry heavy loads over the mountains in an unemployment-plagued region that Iran’s government has all but forgotten.

Members of the mostly Kurdish People’s Protection Units, part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, gather in the Syrian town of Shadadi on Sept. 11, 2018. (Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

Kurdish Commander Laments American Betrayal, Urges U.S. to ‘Be Loyal’

Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Syria leaves U.S. ally at the mercy of old enemies.

Prime Minister-elect Adel Abdul Mahdi addresses the Iraqi parliament during a vote on the new government in Baghdad on Oct. 24, 2018. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Will Iraq’s Old Divisions Undermine Its New Prime Minister?

In his first hundred days on the job, Adel Abdul Mahdi has hit entrenched political roadblocks to choosing cabinet ministers and changing a system of political patronage.

Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, delivers a speech in Paris on Dec. 21, 2018. (Stephane De Sakuyin/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian Kurdish Leader Asks U.S. to Save Her People From ‘Catastrophe’

As Assad consolidates power, Kurds want autonomy in northeastern Syria.

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters gather behind a sandbagged barricade northwest of Manbij in northern Syria on Jan. 15. (Nazeer al-Khatib/ AFP/Getty Images)

Trump Is Making the Mess in Syria Even Messier

He inherited the conflict. It’s up to him to resolve it responsibly.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the funeral ceremony for Turkish soldier Musa Ozalkan on Jan. 23, 2018 at Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque in Ankara.

Don’t Blame Everything on Erdogan

The Turkish government doesn’t have a soft spot for the Islamic State, and Ankara stands to lose more than anyone if the terrorist group makes a comeback.

Members of a Turkey-backed Syrian militia near the Northern Syrian city of Manbij, on Dec. 30. (Anas Alkharboutli/Picture Alliance/ Getty Images)

The United States Can’t Rely on Turkey to Defeat ISIS

Erdogan wants to confront the Kurds, not the Islamic State. Outsourcing the battle to Ankara will endanger America.

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters train in a camp in the Aleppo countryside, northern Syria, on Dec. 16. (Aref Tammawi/AFP/Getty Images)

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2019

As U.S. leadership fades, authoritarian leaders are competing to see how much they can get away with.

Herto Hamrash Minut, 74, sits outside his house on Sinjar Mountain, where he lives with his two wives and 12 children. Four years ago, he was kidnapped and tortured by the Islamic State for eight months. (Sam Mednick for Foreign Policy)

ISIS May Be Gone, But Iraq’s Yazidis Are Still Suffering

The defeat of the Islamic State has created a power vacuum in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, leaving the Yazidi minority at the mercy of competing militias.

U.S. forces, accompanied by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), drive armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah on April 28, 2017. (Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S.-Turkish Ties May Be Cut for Good in Syria

The two countries are trying to work together in Manbij, and it isn’t going well.

Massoud Barzani, a leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party, in Iraq's Nineveh province in Nov. 2015. (Reza/Getty Images)

This Is Where Iran Defeats the United States

Iraq’s Kurdish kingmakers used to side with Washington. Now, Tehran seems like a more attractive partner.

A pedestrian lights a cigarette as he walks past banners with portraits of Turrkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and the leader of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli in Istanbul on June 19.

Get Ready for a More Aggressive Turkey

Erdogan’s new partner in parliament — the ultranationalist MHP — will make Ankara a more belligerent and intransigent ally.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walks down the stairs in between soldiers, wearing traditional army uniforms from the Ottoman Empire, as he arrives for a welcoming ceremony for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in Ankara, January 12, 2015.

Don’t Turn The Turkish Army Into A Political Tool

Turkey has a history of coups. Whoever wins the election must prevent politicization of the military.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (L) attend the funeral of a soldier killed in a helicopter crash at Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque in Ankara, on June 1, 2017.

Turkey’s Wag-the-Dog Election

Erdogan is fighting a military battle to win a political one.

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