WASHINGTON -- In his chilling account of the Romanov dynasty, the British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore quoted Peter Stolypin, who was interior minister for Nicholas II, the last of the tsars: "In Russia, nothing is more dangerous than the appearance of weakness."
Montefiore explained that in the 300-plus years of Romanov rule, power had ...Read more
RIYADH -- Hearing the emphatic modernization message of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a visitor can't help wondering: Is this for real? Are the young leader's proposals for change supported by the religious leadership and the public in this traditionally very conservative country?
Making reliable forecasts about Saudi Arabia is ...Read more
RIYADH -- In a wide-ranging late-night interview at his palace here, Saudi Arabia's young crown prince Mohammed bin Salman described a new wave of reforms as part of the "shock" therapy needed to modernize the kingdom's cultural and political life.
"MBS," as the headstrong 32-year-old crown prince is known, began the conversation just before ...Read more
MUNICH -- The abiding image from last weekend's security conference here was of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu theatrically brandishing a piece of an Iranian drone shot down over Israel a week before -- and starkly warning Tehran: "Do not test Israel's resolve."
Are Israel and Iran heading toward war, in their new jockeying for influence ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Every good spy story needs a shadowy operative who does the dirty work for the boss, and thanks to the indictment issued Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller, we now have a nominee for that role in the Russia investigation. He's a billionaire oligarch named Yevgeniy Prigozhin, and based on Russian and other accounts, he sounds ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- How bizarre that the biggest obstacle to finishing the war against the Islamic State and beginning the stabilization of Syria is America's supposed friend and NATO ally, Turkey.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the latest attempt to mollify an angry Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a three-hour meeting in Ankara ...Read more
RAQQA, Syria -- Hell descended on this city twice: first when it was captured by the Islamic State in 2014 and made their capital, and then when it was liberated last year by U.S.-backed forces in a campaign that flattened much of the center of the city.
Photos and videos show the damage here, but they don't prepare you for the intensity of the...Read more
SHADDADI, Syria -- This week's fatal collision between U.S. and Russian proxy forces in Syria has many ominous portents. But to hear the Syrian Kurdish commander who was overseeing the battle describe it, this is above all a tale of Russian bad faith, which U.S. officials see as a chronic problem in resolving the Syrian war.
Gen. Hassan, the ...Read more
AMMAN, Jordan -- For decades, ground zero in Jordan's alliance with America has been the headquarters of the General Intelligence Department, with its forbidding black flag fluttering in the breeze at the end of an entry road with the unlikely name, "Street of the People."
The GID embodied Jordan's role as America's special Arab friend. ...Read more
TEL AVIV -- If the Trump administration is really thinking about trying to give North Korea a "bloody nose" with a limited military attack, it should look carefully at Israel's experience -- which shows the possible benefits of a quick strike, but also the difficulty of keeping a lid on a conflict once it starts.
Discussions with Israelis at a ...Read more
REHELIM, West Bank -- Vered Ben-Saadon says she and her husband felt a sense of biblical mission to cultivate "part of the land of Israel" when they founded their winery here at a settlement about 30 miles north of Jerusalem. And she appears to have no intention of leaving, regardless of what peace negotiators may say.
"The two-state solution ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Richard Helms, the godfather of modern CIA directors, prided himself on keeping his mouth shut in public. He was delighted that his 1979 biography had the starchy title "The Man Who Kept the Secrets."
But that was then. In today's media-driven world, former intelligence chiefs appear so regularly on cable television they probably ...Read more
TAMPA, Fla. -- Talking with Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of American troops in the Middle East, is a paradoxical reminder of the limits of U.S. military power to determine political outcomes. American bombs helped destroy the Islamic State in Syria, but they can't stitch the rag doll of the Syrian nation back together.
Syria's plight ...Read more