Marc Lynch

Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, and author of the popular Middle East politics blog Abu Aardvark. His most recent book, Voices of the New Arab Public: Al-Jazeera, Iraq, and Middle East Politics Today, was published last year by Columbia University Press.

Recent Articles

Sunni World

The cheerleaders for the surge have constructed a Disney-esque fantasy of Iraq which might as well be in Orlando for all it has to do with the grim reality on the ground. And Abu Risha's assassination isn't likely to dim that fantasy.

During his visit to Iraq last week, President Bush carved out an hour to sit down with Shaykh Abd al-Sattar Abu Risha, the controversial head of the Anbar Salvation Council who had become a symbol of America's Anbar strategy. The pictures from that photo-op were likely the Shaykh's death warrant: Abu Risha was assassinated today, even as Bush prepared to use the Anbar strategy's "success" to justify our continued involvement in Iraq. David Petraeus was quick to blame al-Qaeda for the stunning murder, a leap to judgment emblematic of all which is wrong with America's current views of the Sunnis of Iraq. In reality there are a plethora of likely suspects, reflecting the reality of an intensely factionalized and divided community which little resembles the picture offered by the administration's defenders. Leaders of other tribes deeply resented Abu Risha's prominence. Leaders of the major insurgency factions had for weeks been warning against allowing people such as Abu Risha to...

Our Enemy's Enemy

Perhaps the most consistent and widely accepted argument against withdrawal from Iraq has been the risk that al-Qaeda would take advantage of the vacuum to establish a durable base for exporting global jihad. But al-Qaeda has already declared an Islamic State of Iraq -- they did so in October, in spite of the United States's presence. A closer look at the results of that declaration might help reframe the debate about the implications of an American withdrawal. Iraqi Sunni politics have been turned upside down over the last few weeks -- and al-Qaeda's declaration of an Islamic State of Iraq, rather than America's "surge" strategy, is the main reason. Indeed, events in recent weeks offer good reason to believe that al-Qaeda would fare more poorly in a post-American Iraq than surge supporters pretend. Americans, eager for good news from Iraq and seizing upon rising public Sunni opposition to al-Qaeda, risk missing its real significance. Recent coverage of Anbar province has focused upon...

Power Ploy

As Israel and Lebanon spiral into ever-bloodier war, all eyes are on Tel Aviv, Washington, Tehran, and Damascus. But as crucial as those capitals are to the rapidly evolving politics of the region, it would do Americans well to widen their view. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan -- what Matthew Yglesias dubbed the "axis of pro-American dictators" -- have been executing one of the more stunning gambits in recent Middle Eastern history: publicly aligning themselves against Hezbollah and Iran (and implicitly with Israel and the United States), even in the face of clear public opposition. Is this good news for Americans long desperate for Arab states to show their hands and support American goals? Not necessarily. The surprise is not so much in the positions of these states as in the public way in which they are expressing them. In the week of bloody Israeli military actions following Hezbollah's brazen attack on an Israeli convoy and abduction of two soldiers, these states loudly denounced...