Colonel (Ret.) Joel Rayburn knows the Middle East well. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria during the Trump administration, after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also an accomplished historian, author of Iraq After America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance (Hoover Press) and co-author of the Army War College history of the Iraq War. This conversation begins with an analysis of the situation in Daraa, a city in southern Syria where the revolution against the Assad regime began in 2011.  Russia-brokered agreements between the rebels and the regime in 2018 and 2020 have broken down, as Assad tries to establish full control and extend its longstanding strategy of forcible displacements, that is, forcing restive population groups to leave, adding to the international flow of refugees: this is a war crime.  Col. Rayburn discusses the developments in Daraa in detail and then places them in the framework of the ambitions of the various international actors: Russia, Iran, Turkey, the United States, Israel and the Europeans. He concludes with brief remarks on the prospects for the recently announced formation of a government in Lebanon.

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