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  • Author: James M Dorsey, Raffaello Pantucci, Bilveer Singh, Noor Huda Ismail
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The high-profile assassination of General Qassim Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (QF), on January 3 in Baghdad marked the lowest point in US-Iran relations in recent times. It triggered a new spell of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East with far-reaching consequences for South and Southeast Asia. Soleimani’s killing has also coincided with the potential rejuvenation of the Islamic State (IS), and ongoing anti-government protests in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. Soleimani’s killing was bound to have reverberations beyond the Middle East. Muslim-majority states in South and Southeast Asia, where both Saudi Arabia and Iran have engaged in sectarian proxy wars by funding and influencing the Sunni and Shia segments of the population. While states in both regions have condemned Soleimani’s killing, they have stayed largely neutral to avoid getting sucked into rising geopolitical tensions. Against this backdrop, the March issue of the Counter Terrorists Trends and Analyses (CTTA) features three articles that explore different dimensions of Soleimani’s death and their geopolitical implications. In the first article, James M. Dorsey argues that as US-Iran tensions have eased in recent months, Iranian hardliners, emboldened by a sweeping mandate earned in recent domestic elections, remain committed to a well-honed strategy of escalating asymmetric warfare. According to the author, this raises the prospects for a full-scale war, with the United States also still pursuing a maximum pressure campaign on Iran that has to date, yet to produce tangible results. In the second article, Raffaello Pantucci reasons that despite a general consensus that the US-Iran rupture will ease pressure on transnational jihadist groups in the Middle East theatre, it remains unclear how Soleimani’s killing will shape their future behaviour. On the one hand, Iran-backed Shia militias are likely to step up their operations, which will exacerbate sectarian fault-lines in the region and feed into IS’ self-portrayal as the saviours of Sunnis. Conversely, pragmatism continues to define interactions between Tehran and Sunni jihadist groups such as the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, who appear happy to cooperate to ensure broader strategic goals. Next, Bilveer Singh examines the implications of Soleimani’s assassination for South and Southeast Asia. regions where both Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy ideological influence among the Muslim-majority states. Sunni Malaysia and Indonesia have reservations about Tehran, but domestic political pressures are likely to endear Iran to them more than the US. The impact in South Asia could be more varied, mostly affecting Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran through its Shia militant proxies can undermine US interests in Afghanistan. The QF has also recruited significant Shia militias in Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively for operations in Syria. Moreover, Pakistan has to walk a tight rope given Iran has an inside track to its significant Shia population. Besides cross and intra-regional assessments of Soleimani’s assassination within the broader US-Iran fissures, the threat landscapes in Indonesia and West Africa, both long-time hotbeds for terrorist activity in their respective regions, are also examined in this issue. Firstly, Noor Huda Ismail takes a closer look at pro-IS terrorist networks in Indonesia, a country that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. By examining the background, tactics and modus operandi of local terrorist groups, both online and offline, and comparing their legacy with those of previous militant Islamist movements, the author believes important learning lessons can be drawn to help mitigate future security threats. Finally, Atta Barkindo analyses the jihadist threat in the Sahel region, where a landscape conducive to terrorist activities provides the fertile ground for IS and Al-Qaeda to grow by linking up with local militant networks. The tactical sophistication exhibited in terrorist attacks by Sahelian jihadist groups, particularly in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, testifies to a growing footprint of global jihadism. Sahel provides an arterial life-line through the region, by facilitating the movement of goods and people between the Mediterranean and West Africa, which has been enormously beneficial to terrorist groups involved in organised criminal enterprises. Moreover, desertification and environmental degradation have also created a conducive environment for criminal activities and terrorism.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Marina Henke
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many countries serving in multilateral military coalitions are “paid” to do so, either in cash or in concessions relating to other international issues. An examination of hundreds of declassified archival sources as well as elite interviews relating to the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization operation in Afghanistan, the United Nations–African Union operation in Darfur, and the African Union operation in Somalia reveals that these payment practices follow a systematic pattern: pivotal states provide the means to cover such payments. These states reason that rewarding third parties to serve in multilateral coalitions holds important political benefits. Moreover, two distinct types of payment schemes exist: deployment subsidies and political side deals. Three types of states are most likely to receive such payments: (1) states that are inadequately resourced to deploy; (2) states that are perceived by the pivotal states as critical contributors to the coalition endeavor; and (3) opportunistic states that perceive a coalition deployment as an opportunity to negotiate a quid pro quo. These findings provide a novel perspective on what international burden sharing looks like in practice. Moreover, they raise important questions about the efficiency and effectiveness of such payment practices in multilateral military deployments.
  • Topic: Security, National Security, Regional Cooperation, International Security, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Alliance
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Kuwait, Vietnam, Korea, Somalia
  • Author: Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff, Natasha Quek, Md. Didarul Islam, Naman Rawat
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Islamic State’s (IS) territorial defeat reflects a shift in the epicentre of violence from Iraq and Syria to the peripheries (countries with an active presence of IS cells or other insurgent and terrorist threats). In the study of terrorism and insurgency, age-old threats can persist while new threats are always emerging, either due to policy shifts that give rise to new opportunities for insurgents to exploit, or due to changes in the political climate of societies. As such, the May issue deals with three key thematic challenges in a post-IS threat landscape. First, it looks at returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), who after IS’ territorial defeat have either traveled to or attempted to return to their home countries. According to the United Nations (UN) more than 40,000 FTFs from 110 countries had traveled to Iraq and Syria to join IS. The return of segments of the FTFs indicates escalation of threats in their home countries as they come armed with operational skills and could possibly regroup, establish local cells and engage in violence. In this case, a high number of FTFs travelled to Iraq and Syria from Tunisia despite the country’s peaceful transition towards a participatory democracy, in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Second, in order to deal with the shifting threat landscape, it is necessary to develop new and strengthen existing de-radicalisation programmes. De-radicalisation is a smaller part of broader counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation efforts that focus on terrorists or returning FTFs in custody. Effective de-radicalisation programmes will provide detainees with opportunities to reintegrate back into the society by rejecting violence and promoting peaceful coexistence. This issue critically evaluates de-radicalisation as a concept and specific programmes in Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, while extoling the need for holistic approaches for effective outcomes. Lastly, beyond the Islamist extremist threat emanating from IS and other affiliated or local groups, other non-Islamist threats continue to persist. This includes far-right extremists gaining traction and engaging in violence in parts of United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In addition, ethno-separatist groups (Baloch Liberation Army in Pakistan) and communist groups (The New People’s Army in Philippines and the Naxalites in India) also have a strong support structure and operational presence. According to the Global Terrorism Index, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) or Naxalites killed 205 people in 190 different incidents across 2018. This issue specifically delves into the Naxalite insurgency in India, which has evolved from a mass-mobilisation movement to a militant insurgency over the last few decades. The article advocates for institutional reforms to address various grievances to reduce the agency to violence. In the first article, Natasha Quek and Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff explore the causal factors behind Tunisia contributing one of the highest numbers of FTFs in theatres of conflict in the Middle East and beyond. The authors contend that the proliferation of Tunisian FTFs and surge in jihadist-linked violence domestically in recent years, poses a threat to long term stability, and could also fuel conflict in the wider region. Tunisia’s strong history of secularism provides an advantage, as the government can rely on a robust civil society rather than adopt a purely security-based approach. However, additional policy responses are needed to curtail jihadist activities and safeguard the country’s democratic achievements. Md. Didarul Islam then assesses various definitional aspects and theoretical models of de-radicalisation programmes. The author further provides observations on the gains, limitations and local context of de-radicalisation programmes, gleaned from four country case studies, which suggest that effective de-radicalisation of individuals necessitates a holistic approach focused on three key areas: (i) re-education or ideological interventions; (ii) vocational training or financial support; (iii) and a viable reintegration environment. Isolated approaches towards de-radicalisation that discount these variables are likely to only bring short-term success and a higher likelihood of recidivism. Lastly, Naman Rawat then examines different factors and underlying causes which have sustained the Naxalite insurgency in India for over fifty years. The author argues that since the 1960s, the lack of legitimate political institutions as well as corrupt practices of the government and bureaucracy have contributed to the Naxalites’ socio-political alienation in India. Additionally, the ineffective implementation of land reform laws, which prohibit acquisition of the tribal lands by non-Adivasis, has pushed the more extreme sections of tribal and peasant people to revolt against the government. Though the insurgency has been weakened in recent years, it is far from over.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Radicalization, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict, Radical Right
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, South Asia, Indonesia, Middle East, India, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Syria, Tunisia
  • Author: Rohan Gunaratna, Mahfuh Bin Haji Halimi, Muhammad Saiful Alam Shah Bin Sudiman, Nur Aziemah Azman, Mohammed Sinan Siyech
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The January issue focuses on an overview of the terrorist and violent extremist threats in key countries and conflict zones in the Asia-Pacific throughout 2018. The articles discuss the regional terrorism threat and responses in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, China and the Middle East. Thematically, the articles also analyse online extremism and the counter-ideology dimensions of terrorism and violent extremism in 2019. The lead article argues that global terrorist and extremist threat is likely to persist in 2019 as the Islamic State (IS) is going through a phase of readaptation and decentralisation. The group has established clandestine and underground structures to survive in Iraq and Syria. Its ideology is still intact and continues to be propagated in the cyber space. In the provinces, groups, networks and cells which have pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi are radicalising Muslims and conducting attacks. Harnessing both the physical and virtual space, IS continues to present an enduring threat worldwide. Although the apex of IS leadership and many of the directing figures are on the run and might be eliminated in 2019, the penultimate leadership enabling the fight and supporting the infrastructure will continue to operate in the shadows as they become agile and more cunning. The IS and Al-Qaeda (AQ)-centric threats are likely to remain given the lack of an effective global counter terrorism plan and strategy, the continuation of superpower and geopolitical rivalry, and the failure to resolve the underlying causes of extremism and terrorism.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Syria, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Benjamin Tua
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Efforts to portray Muslims and their faith as threatening diminish our society by stigmatizing a significant American minority. They also can facilitate costly foreign policy blunders such as the 2017 Executive Order banning entry into the US of visitors from several Middle Eastern majority-Muslim countries, an order purportedly based on terrorist activity, technical hurdles to properly document these countries’ travelers, and poor coordination with US officials. Two recent books, “Mohammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires” and “What the Qur’an Meant: And Why it Matters,” take on the task of broadening Americans’ still unacceptably low understanding of Islam. The authors – Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, and Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize winning lay scholar of American Catholicism – approach their subject in distinctly different manners. Yet, their message and conclusions are remarkably similar – namely, that ignorance of and distortions of Islam and what the Quran says both alienate vast numbers of Muslims and have led to foreign policy missteps. The books complement each other nicely.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Peace Studies, Religion, Judaism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Ukraine, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Soviet Union, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Haviland Smith
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: It is clear that there are powerful people both in the United States and in Iran who would like to force a real confrontation between our two countries. What is completely unclear is whether or not those hawks on both sides want a modified Cold War type confrontation, built perhaps on cyber warfare, or an all-out military confrontation. What this situation, with all its incredibly profound dangers and possible disastrous outcomes, has done is once again prompt the question, “what is the United States doing in the Middle East and what precisely are our goals there?”
  • Topic: Cold War, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Minorities, Ethnicity
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: James Aird
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Five months after Iraq’s May 2018 parliamentary elections, rival political blocs have broken deadlock and are set to form a new government. On October 2nd, the Iraqi parliament selected Barham Salih, a career politician from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), for the Iraqi presidency. Shortly after his election, Salih named Adil Abdul Mahdi, Iraq’s former oil minister, as prime minister. Iraqis and international observers applauded the selection of these politicians who have eschewed sectarian rhetoric as a victory for political compromise, but Salih and Abdul Mahdi face the challenge of answering popular calls for government reform after a summer marked by violent protests.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Politics, Water, Elections, Employment, Protests, State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: John Millock
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: ISIL recruited children through a variety of means, including abducting children from orphanages and hospitals, or offering to pay parents hundreds of dollars a month in exchange for each child’s attendance at military training. Additionally, child soldiers were often taken from particular ethnic groups or religious communities, such as Yazidis and Christians, as a means to terrorize these groups. Since the territorial collapse of ISIL began in 2017, many of these child soldiers have defected; some fled ISIL territory and are living anonymously in Europe while others returned to their home countries. Debates about how national legal systems should handle these former child soldiers have arisen in all of these jurisdictions. In Iraq, which has dealt with a particularly large number of former ISIL child soldiers, there have been concerns about the national justice system’s capacity to adequately address the prosecution and rehabilitation of ISIL’s former child soldiers.
  • Topic: United Nations, Law, Children, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Transitional Justice, Conflict, Criminal Justice
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Houssem Ben Lazreg, Phil Gursky
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Islamic State (IS) has demonstrated unprecedented capabilities in attracting foreign fighters, particularly from Western countries. Between 2011 and 2015, Western foreign fighters coming from North America, Europe, and Australia traveled to Iraq and Syria in order to join IS and the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra. As IS has been significantly weakened, authorities in many western countries are increasingly worried that returning fighters will come back to their home countries radicalized, battle hardened, and eager to commit terrorist attacks. This concern is clearly manifested in Phil Gursky’s book cover which features a striking image of a Belgian returnee from Syria, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who has been named by security officials as one of the architects of the attacks in Paris in 2015. ​ In Western Foreign Fighters: The Threat to Homeland and International Security, Phil Gursky, a former analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, elaborates on the phenomenon of ‘Western Foreign Fighters.’ This book aims at addressing two fundamental issues: “why people leave their homeland to join terrorist groups?” and “do they pose a threat upon their prospective return?”[1] To answer those questions, Gurski relies not only on a detailed analysis of the excerpts and statements by the fighters recently engaged in violent extremism at home and overseas, but also on accounts that delineate historical parallels and differences with previous conflicts sharing similar dynamics. ​ Gurski divides his analysis into eight substantive chapters, an appendix, a glossary and a suggested reading list, using accessible, non-academic prose. He conducts the majority of his historical analysis in chapter three. His discussion of western volunteers—mainly Canadians and Americans—and their involvement in previous conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War and the Boers Wars provides informative and engaging insights, mostly for a general readership.[2] It also sets the stage for shedding light on why Westerners join terrorist groups like IS, and what threat they pose to homeland/international security. Obviously, these issues will be of most interest to intelligence officers, policy makers, scholars, and practitioners...
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Homeland Security, Book Review
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael M. Gunter
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University
  • Abstract: Kurdish nationalism is challenged not only by the more developed counternationalisms of the states in which the Kurds live (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria) but also by the problem of Kurdish disunity and infighting.
  • Topic: History, Conflict, Kurds, Referendum, Infighting
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: Özlem Kayhan Pusane
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: Since the 1960s, Turkish policymakers have developed a distant attitude towards the Kurdish movement in Iraq and they have been concerned about the possibility of similar developments taking place in Turkey. However, in the early 1990s, and then from 2007/2008 onwards, Turkey left its distant attitude towards northern Iraq and pursued an active policy developing close relations with the Iraqi Kurds. This paper explores to what extent Turkey’s foreign policy change towards northern Iraq in these two periods constituted leader-driven change and to what extent these changes resulted from structural/environmental factors.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics, Kurds, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turgut Özal
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Lars Erslev Anderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Connections
  • Institution: Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes
  • Abstract: This article investigates the developments of al-Qaida and The Islamic State in the context of the war on terror. The Iraq war 2003–2010, including the US Counterinsurgency strategy implemented in Iraq in 2007 onwards, together with the political developments in Iraq after the US withdrawal of combat troops at the end of 2011 is seen as the breeding ground for Islamic State in Iraq and thus for establishment of the Nusra Front (al-Qaida) in Syria. The chapter argues that without political developments based on reliable states in the Arab Middle East there is no solution in sight for ending the conflicts and wars in the region.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Andrea Sjøberg Aasgaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Connections
  • Institution: Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes
  • Abstract: Why do young Muslim women from the whole world join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, despite the fact that the group is notorious for conducting terrible sexual violations against women? Through comparing how al-Qaeda (AQ) and IS are positioning women in their ideological literature, this article sheds light on IS’ appeal to women. This is interesting, as AQ in a historical perspective only attracted a handful of European women to physically join the group. The comparison highlights that AQ and IS position women in different ways: as housewives, migrants, warriors and sex slaves. Both groups’ ideologies agree that a woman’s primarily role is to be a housewife and mother, and exclude in principle women from the battlefield. However, only IS is emphasizing that Muslim women have a right and duty to migrate to its territory. Through using ideological arguments in its literature, IS convinces its supporters that it is a religious duty to enslave women the group defines as idolaters. For this reason, IS’ brutality against non-Muslim women will not discourage its female supporters from joining the group.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Migration, Sex Trafficking, Islamic State, Sexual Violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Mona Kanal Sheikh
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Connections
  • Institution: Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes
  • Abstract: The Islamic State (IS) movement has opened a new chapter in the Afpak region, changing the landscape of militant movements in the area. This article looks at the patterns of rivalry and collaboration between the Islamic State on one side and Al-Qaeda and Taliban-related movements on the other. It also surveys the way Al-Qaeda has developed during the past years where most of the international attention has been devoted to the formation of IS in Iraq/Syria, and shows that Al-Qaeda is still active, though it has become more locally oriented. Finally, the article looks at the prospects for the further expansion of IS especially in Pakistan where, on one side, a range of sectarian anti-Shia movements that resonate with parts of the IS agenda while, on the other side, there is no ideological tradition for embracing the kind of caliphate-jihadism that the IS advocates.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Angle Smith
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: As Acting Public Affairs Officer in Erbil in 2016, I had the privilege of working with the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH), the only pan-Iraqi organization located in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. IICAH was originally established with U.S. Department of State funding, and it has since become a regional leader for training cultural heritage specialists. Also with State Department funding, the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Delaware work to train Iraqis in the skills needed to preserve, protect and recover cultural heritage in Iraq, namely “the stabilization, rescue and recovery” of Iraq’s cultural legacy. This mission takes on an even greater importance in times of crisis, when cultural heritage is under threat of annihilation, and IICAH’s role has never been more significant than now, as those it has trained are well placed to preserve and restore sites and artifacts damaged or de­stroyed by ISIS. What is cultural heritage really? There are generally considered to be two categories—tangible and intangible. Tangible heritage includes things such as structures, ruins, handicrafts and landscapes. Intangible heritage includes nonmaterial things such as arts that are communicated through oral traditions. In The Past Is a Foreign Country, David Lowenthal writes that preserved objects also validate memories. While digital acquisition techniques can provide precise visual models of an object’s shape and appearance, it is the actuality of the object, as opposed to a reproduction, that draws people in and gives them a literal way of touching the past.
  • Topic: United Nations, Culture, Heritage, UNESCO
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Ches Thurber, Austin Bowman
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Ches Thurber is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University. He was previously a research fellow at the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago and at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His current book project, Strategies of Violence and Nonviolence in Revolutionary Movements, examines why political movements seeking to overthrow the state embrace strategies of either armed insurgency or civil resistance.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Non State Actors, Sectarianism, Social Movement, Conflict, Interview
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Graeme Wood, Eli Stiefel
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Graeme Wood is a correspondent for The Atlantic. He was the 2015 - 2016 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and is a lecturer in political science at Yale University. He was formerly a contributing editor to The New Republic and books editor of Pacific Standard. He was a reporter at The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh in 1999, then lived and wrote in the Middle East from 2002 to 2006. He has received fellowships from the Social Sciences Research Council (2002-2003), the South Asian Journalists Association (2009), the East-West Center (2009-2010), and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide (2013-2014). He has appeared many times on television and radio (CNN, ABC, BBC, MSNBC, et al.), was the screenwriter of a Sundance Official Selection (2010, short film), and led a Nazi-hunting expedition to Paraguay for a History Channel special in 2009.
  • Topic: Security, Non State Actors, Islamic State, Journalism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Loretta Napoleoni, Karen Jacobsen
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: This book is a lively journalistic read, filled with stories and details of encounters between jihadists, smugglers, organized crime, drug smuggling across the Sahara, kidnapping of rich tourists, and European ransoms. The author, an Italian journalist, describes herself as a ‘chronicler of the dark side of the economics of globalization’ and has written several books on ISIS, terrorist financing, and money laundering. In Merchants of Men, Napoleoni argues that the proliferation of failed states and the breakdown of law and order in regions like the Sahel, accelerated by the burgeoning cocaine business in the region, have enabled a rapid increase in trafficking and kidnapping. The profits of these merchants of men have flourished, aided by the secrecy of European governments surrounding the ransoming of their citizens (notably, the U.S. does not, publicly at least, pay ransoms). Napoleoni raises these and a number of intriguing issues in the preface. She points to the “false sense of security about the globalized world” that allows both “young, inexperienced members of the First Nations Club” and humanitarian aid workers to explore the world and bring aid to conflict zones — and become the primary target of kidnappers. She gives (unsourced) statistics about the growth of the kidnapping industry and its mirror, private security companies, and asks whether “the economics of kidnapping are immune from the laws of economics,” because as competition has increased between kidnappers and private security firms, prices have gone up instead of down. She argues that when the migrant crisis erupted in Europe in 2015, the business of hostage taking — already set up with “a sophisticated organizational structure in place and plenty of money from trading hostages” — switched to trafficking in migrants and refugees. The profits of these merchants of men have continued to increase since then.
  • Topic: Crime, Refugees, Islamic State, Book Review, Journalism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Syria, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Rohan Gunaratna, Paul Hedges, Jasminder Singh, Muh Taufiqurrohman
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: October 2017 has been a fateful month for the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. In Syria, its de facto ‘capital’ Raqqa has fallen to an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by the US-led coalition. Earlier in Hawija, the last remaining IS stronghold in northern Iraq, about 1,000 IS fighters surrendered to Iraqi forces rather than fighting for ‘martyrdom’. Over in Southeast Asia, the Philippines authorities announced the liberation of Marawi after a five-month battle and the killing of IS top leaders, Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute. The string of losses suffered by IS since 2016 nullifies and invalidates the IS slogan of ‘remaining and expanding’ and constitutes a huge symbolic blow to its standing as leader of the global ‘jihadist’ movement. It is likely that the fall of Raqqa was expected by the top leadership of IS and that plans have been made well in advance for al-Baghdadi and his senior commanders to go into hiding, and for the ‘jihadi’ struggle to persist in some form in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. This is already evident from IS’ decentralisation of its ‘jihad’ and ‘virtualisation’ of its so-called caliphate (from a territory-based entity). The ‘decentralisation of jihad’ through its various wilayats and online presence (including videos and publications), is similar to Al-Qaeda’s post-9/11 franchising strategy. IS has been urging its affiliates in different parts of the world to continue the so-called ‘caliphate’ project by granting them more autonomy and freedom to mount operations. Against this backdrop, Southeast Asia has to contend with the threat of IS and other terrorist groups engaging in recruitment and proselytisation, and planning attacks through the online domain. This context necessitates close monitoring of hotspots in Southeast Asia, including Marawi in the Philippines, Rakhine in Myanmar and the southern provinces in Thailand. In the Philippines, security forces have successfully managed to contain, isolate and eliminate the IS threat in Marawi. Although the battle is almost over with the deaths of IS Philippines leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the threat of terrorism in the region is far from over. Rohan Gunaratna discusses the situation in Marawi, the activities of the militants, the government’s response and future trends. Despite the elimination of top leaders and fighters in Marawi, IS will prevail in Southern Philippines and pose a security threat to Southeast Asian countries as the leadership outside Mindanao remains intact. In addition, other militant groups are joining IS’ East Asia Division, indicating efforts to expand from the Philippines to Northeast and Southeast Asia. While IS has failed to hold territory, it has been successful in cyberspace, with regular online publications of battle news, ‘religious’ articles, showing exploits of IS fighters and propaganda videos. In this connection, Jasminder Singh and Muhammad Haziq Bin Jani discuss the unprecedented appearance of a Singaporean national in an IS-propaganda video last month and its possible implications. In the midst of IS decline in the Levant, the video attempts to rally the ‘jihadists’, boost their morale, and gives the false impression that IS will prevail. The video underlines the need for continued high-level vigilance against extremist teachings and ‘jihadist’ propaganda and radicalisation in the real world and the murky cyber world. Muh Taufiqurrohman et al. examine the issue of jihadist radicalisation and activities in Indonesia’s prisons at Nusa Kambangan. They observe that lax security measures, understaffed prison facilities, low budgetary provisions and overworked prison guards have enabled high-profile jihadists such as Aman Abdurrahman, Iwan Darmawan, Abdullah Sonata and Abu Hanifah to recruit, preach, communicate, plan and execute attacks without hindrance. They recommend placing terrorist inmates in special prisons or solitary confinement, employing full-time religious counsellors, recruiting more qualified prison guards and increasing the prisons’ operational budget. On the issue of radicalisation, a better conceptual understanding of the subject is required. Paul Hedges explores and clarifies key issues associated with the term radicalisation. He argues that radicalisation is largely linked to socialisation and that there is no commonly accepted personality profile nor a linear pathway to radicalisation; basically, the landscape and trajectory of terrorism in terms of recruitment and evolution are both changing and fluid. In order to counter the booming youth ‘jihadist’ cultural milieu, he argues that it is necessary to have credible moderate role models and voices messages that are packaged to appeal to the youth. He added that any response to address the issue of trajectories into violence needs to be measured, targeted, evidence-based, and empathetic to the communities involved.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Philippines, Syria, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Rohan Gunaratna, Muhammad Haniff Hassan, Mahfuh Bin Haji Halimi, Nur Azlin Mohamed Yasin
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: As the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group evolves into the next phase of its life cycle, it is operationalising its so-called wilayats (governorates) in different parts of the world. In June, with the loss of ground in Iraq and Syria, IS has made significant territorial gains in the Philippines along with carrying out a high profile terrorist attack in Indonesia. The operational strength and sophistication exhibited in these latest developments in Southeast Asia is concerning for three particular reasons. First, IS will stay alive and relevant through its wilayats notwithstanding its defeat in the Middle East. This could result in higher levels of violence and radicalisation in the regions where IS might turn its attention. The ability of the so-called Caliphate to operate in the online and offline spheres has already provided the group a virtual sanctuary to survive and stay relevant despite real world defeats. Second, with the seige of Marawi in the Philippines by IS, the city and surrounding areas may emerge as a new hub for IS supporters, sympathizers and lone-wolf fighters. In its latest issue of Rumiyah, the terror group has encouraged its supporters to relocate to Marawi if they cannot migrate to Iraq or Syria. This might galvanise a new wave of pro-IS fighters in Southeast Asia. IS has already prepared them for the setbacks in the Levant and provided them with sufficient religious grounds to press on with their ‘struggle’ through its propaganda machinery. The porous and heavily forested terrain and cluster of small islands with almost no control of the government in southern Philippines suits IS designs to fortify and consolidate its footprint in the region. It will require concerted efforts under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to counter IS gains in the region. Even though Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have done remarkably well to check the security challenge posed by IS, more needs to be done in places like the Philippines and Thailand with coordinated operational efforts and timely intelligence sharing. Third, IS online followers, supporters and sympathisers are now moving from open social media platforms to encrypted ones such as Telegram, Whatsapp and WeChat. This adds a new layer of complexity to keep track of vulnerable segments of youth susceptible to radicalism and disrupt any terrorist plots that may be planned and executed through communication in encrypted social medial platforms. Various Social Media Companies (SMCs), law enforcement agencies, academia and civil society organisations (SCOs) will have to team up and redouble their efforts to discuss how to deal with the challenge of cyber radicalism. Further procrastination in operationalising stronger social media strategies to counter violent radicalism will hamper efforts to curtail the spread of extremist propaganda and avert terrorist attacks. Equally important is the realm of counter-ideology and promotion of religious moderation. A strong rebuttal of Sunni extremist groups’ exploitation of Quranic verses and other religious texts to further their narrow agendas serves to de-legitimise their efforts. Once the ideological appeal of these groups is neutralised, it will be easier to counter them operationally. Terrorist groups can survive loss of sanctuary and decapitation of the top leaders, but ideological de-legitimization deprives them of the moral support they enjoy among the vulnerable social segments. These are some of the issues which the current issue of CTTA discusses at length highlighting: a) Marawi: A Game Changer in Terrorism in Asia by Rohan Gunaratna, b) The Evolution of Online Extremism in Malaysia by Nur Azlin Mohamed Yasin, c) A Rebuttal of Al-Qaeda and IS’ Theological Justification of Suicide Bombing by Muhammad Haniff Hassan and d) Abrogation and the Verse of the Sword: Addressing Sunni Extremists’ Misappropriation of Concept and Verse by Mahfuh Halimi
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Indonesia, Middle East, Philippines, Syria, Singapore, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Rohan Gunaratna, Bilveer Singh, Mohammed Sinan Siyech, Patrick Blannin, Farhan Zahid
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group that emerged victorious in Iraq in 2014 has lost its eminence. Presently, it is on the defensive, struggling to retain its strongholds in Iraq and Syria. This contrasts with the situation in 2014 when the group was on the rise. It was expanding territorially, producing shockingly brutal videos with cinematic flare, and proclaiming its revival of the so-called ‘caliphate’ and implementation of Sharia to beguile local and foreign Muslims and fellow jihadists. In recent months, IS has suffered several setbacks, including loss of territory, which is the focal point of its jihadist strategy. The group is also facing diminishing numbers of foreign fighters, depleting finances and high casualties of its commanders and foot-soldiers. Given the above, will IS remain relevant to the global jihadist landscape in future? The answer resides in the international community’s ability to end the conflict in Iraq and Syria and ensure post-conflict political stabilisation. Failure on these two fronts will give IS enough space to recuperate and revive. IS will seek sanctuary among pockets of politically-disgruntled Sunnis, regroup and resort to guerrilla warfare as a military strategy to fight the powerful adversaries. This is not the first time IS – earlier known as the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) – is facing such a challenging situation. In 2006, when ISI leader Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi was killed, it suffered huge setbacks. The group went underground and re-emerged in 2010 by defeating the Sahwa Movement, the Sunni tribal uprisings against the group. ISI exploited the Arab uprisings in 2011, and expanded into Syria to eventually become the IS in June 2014. On the international front, IS’ declining influence and appeal and the vacuum created by its retreat have rendered the leadership of global jihad as a contested domain, once again, opening up the possibility of Al Qaeda’s (AQ) return to the top of the jihadi pyramid and merger between the two old jihadi allies. Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi recently stated that ‘discussions and dialogue’ have been taking place between Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi’s representatives and AQ chief Ayman Al Zawahiri. Any rapprochement between the two rivals is likely to further complicate the jihadi landscape in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Against this backdrop, the latest issue of CTTA provides a snapshot of jihadist activities in Pakistan, India, the Philippines and Indonesia and the resulting security threat. Strategically, there is a weak correlation between defeating IS-central and its outlying wilayats and enclaves in Africa, Pakistan, the Philippines and elsewhere. Unless each pro-IS entity is defeated physically in its respective area of operations, the fight against the Middle Eastern Salafi jihadist group will remain incomplete. Specifically, if the conditions and root causes that gave birth to IS and its militant affiliates from countries stretching across Nigeria to the Philippines are not addressed, the international community might have to prolong its battle against them or fight new extremist groups in the future. This is why ideological de-legitimisation through robust counter-narratives, conflict stabilisation in Iraq, and finding a viable political solution to the Syrian civil war are central to defeating the jihadist by-products of these conflict-hit areas. In this issue, Rohan Gunaratna discusses the recent high-profile terrorist attacks in Manila and highlights the threat posed by IS East Asia Division in the Philippines. He argues that the recent attacks, unifications of various militant groups under the IS umbrella and the clashes between Filipino security forces and IS-affiliates in Bohol point to IS’s growing influence in the Philippines, and a stark reminder that the group is trying to expand northwards. The article contends that the IS threat is likely to increase in the future, and warns that the creation of an IS nucleus in the Philippines presents not only a domestic but a regional and international threat that needs to be addressed swiftly. In the next article, Bilveer Singh discusses the revival of Al Qaeda’s affiliate, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), in Southeast Asia. The author argues that JI’s present low profile and non-militant approach may change as more hard-line JI leaders and members are released from detention in the coming months and years, and as more well-trained and ideologically-hardened fighters from Iraq and Syria return to Indonesia. Farhan Zahid details the rise of IS in Pakistan since the group’s formation in 2014, and the extent of its activities in all four provinces of the country. IS has managed to increase its clout by forming tactical alliances with like-minded local militant groups. He argues that IS is likely to assert its dominance through local affiliates in urban centers of Pakistan, specifically the Punjab province. Patrick Blannin examines IS multiple sources of funding and some counter-mechanisms deployed by the global anti-IS coalition. The paper analyses how IS exploits the volatile political and security situation across the Middle East and North Africa to generate funding, and exposes the dichotomy between the terrorist group’s religious rhetoric and its criminal enterprises. Lastly, Mohammed Sinan Siyech’s article examines IS footprint in India in the wake of the group’s suspected involvement in the recent bombing of a passenger train in Madhya Pradesh (MP) state. Although IS recruitment and presence in India is not as strong in numbers in comparison to other countries, it remains concerning given various vulnerabilities and fault-lines that exist in the country. Given the current volatile environment triggered by the rise of right-wing Hindu extremism or the Hindutva movement, another terrorist attack could contribute to communal tensions, leading to spate of violence.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, South Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Syria, Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Iftekharul Bashar, Remy Mahzam, Marcin Styszynski
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In the last several weeks, the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group and its affiliates have demonstrated their continued ability to direct and conduct high-casualty and high-impact attacks in and outside their strongholds in Iraq and Syria. On 10 February, a car bomb struck Baghdad killing 10 people and wounding 33 others. Six days later, a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in Sindh (Pakistan) killed over 80 people and injured 250. The latest (8 March) is the attack on a military hospital in central Kabul which killed 49 people and injured over 60. The global terrorism situation remains grim as IS continues to plot more attacks and exploits social media to subvert the alienated and disgruntled to its jihadist cause. On the battlefields in Iraq and Syria, however, IS is on the retreat, pounded by the US-led Coalition as well as Russian and Syrian forces. The Coalition forces are making significant progress in their offensive to retake western Mosul, capturing its airport, military base and main government complex. IS fighters are outnumbered and experts expect western Mosul to fall in coming months. On the Syrian front, IS has lost Palmyra again, after recapturing it in December last year, and is coming under attack in its de facto capital Raqqa. Some 400 US Marines have been sent to assist in the allied operation to retake Raqqa. It would not be long before more comprehensive, co-ordinated and forceful plans are implemented to defeat IS as well as other jihadist groups. With the likely imminent defeat of IS on the battlefronts, it is timely to discuss the global threat landscape in a post-caliphate scenario. Marcin Styszynski, in his article, highlights four factors that will influence the threat trajectory: the strategic withdrawal of IS into smaller Sunni strongholds to carry out operations and attacks, the expansion of threat frontlines by IS’ associated networks and returning fighters, the rise of sectarian and religious tensions, as well as the competition between Al Qaeda and IS. The author concludes by emphasising the need to address the root causes of political conflict and instability if the significant successes of the Coalition forces in the last two years are not to be in vain. This March issue also examines IS jihadist propaganda and information warfare in cyberspace. Remy Mahzam highlights the great emphasis IS places on online propaganda, and the significance of its propaganda magazine Rumiyah (Rome). He looks at IS calls for various forms of attacks to be executed, and attempts to influence specific groups of readers through exploitation of religious texts and powerful emotional and spiritual messaging. He concludes by spelling out what needs to be done to counter IS digital warfare. Iftekharul Bashar looks at the threat in Bangladesh, six months after the Dhaka Café attack and argues that even though the security establishment has weakened IS through hard approaches, the group is far from eliminated. In his view, the current administration needs to adopt a long-term approach to tackle the broader issue of radicalisation and the diverse threat emanating from IS, Al Qaeda and other associated groups in the country.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, South Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Syria, Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Rohan Gunaratna, Remy Mahzam, Iftekharul Bashar, Mohammed Sinan Siyech, Abdul Basit, Sara Mahmood, Nodirbek Soliev, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff, Vikram Rajakumar, Shahzeb Ali Rathore
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: 2016 saw the so-called Islamic State (IS) in retreat following sustained bombardment and military attacks and airstrikes by the US-led coalition as well as Russian and Syrian forces. It has conceded large swathes of territory, towns and cities, and lost some of its top commanders and strategists and more than 25,000 fighters. The group‘s revenue has declined and so has the flow of new fighters. It has to contend with desertions, in-fighting and scarce resources. Its fall-back wilayats (provinces) in Libya have been lost and many in the liberated areas of Iraq and Syria are jubilant at its ouster after holding sway for more than 20 months. Its declaration of the caliphate is rejected by the Muslim world, which has denounced its acts of violence and misreading of religious texts. Since its formation, IS remains the object of condemnation and denunciation by the whole world. Even so, the terrorist threat posed by IS and its decentralised networks in 2016 shows no sign of abatement. Throughout the year, IS‘ active worldwide networks demonstrated the ability to plan, direct, train, recruit and radicalise from abroad, operating with impunity and surpassing the threat from Al Qaeda‘s old guard. The year saw a number of IS-directed or IS-inspired attacks by terror cells or ‘lone wolves‘ in major cities like Brussels, Nice, Orlando, Istanbul, Dhaka, Jakarta and Berlin resulting in thousands of casualties. Its propaganda machinery and online presence remain formidable, exploiting technology for communications, recruitment, finance, training and terrorist operations. IS has caused the displacement of millions and triggered a humanitarian crisis among refugees and in the battle zones. The group‘s extremism and violence have contributed to inter-religious tensions and discord, and strengthened anti-Islamist movements in the West. The stage is therefore set for 2017 to be a portentous and decisive year for IS and countries afflicted by the threat of terrorism. As IS loses control of Mosul and Raqqa in coming months, it will change strategy, focus and priorities. How it will change and what the impact will be are issues addressed by Rohan Gunaratna in his article on Global Threat Forecast, as well as in accompanying articles on the terrorism situation in selected countries and regions. As IS continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, it will transform itself from a caliphate-building entity to a terrorist organisation. It will seek refuge in its many wilayats and enclaves, and consolidate, expand and use them as launching pads to mount terrorist attacks. The group will continue with its strategy of expanding the ‘battlefield‘ to the West and elsewhere, and hit ‘soft‘ and easy targets. Overall, the terrorist threat will endure in the New Year and will continue to require effective counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and counter-violent extremism measures.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Iraq, South Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, South America, Syria, Asia-Pacific, North America
  • Author: Anton Minkov, Peter Tikuisis
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The 2007 surge in Iraq is considered one of the most significant military events in recent history given that it coincided with a marked decrease in violent attacks. However, revisiting “significant activity” (SIGACT) data reveals that violence had generally peaked before the surge. This study presents also an examination of other factors that might explain the earlier decline in violence, before the surge was even announced. It is difficult to pinpoint the trends that were most prominent, but they all likely contributed to a shift in the momentum of the security situation in the fall of 2006, before the surge was even announced. Thus, our analysis suggests that the surge was an unnecessary gambit. This paper aims to caution strategic policy decision-makers against misinterpreting the efficacy of surge capability in a complex and dynamically changing security situation.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Gabriel Boulianne Gobeil
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Leadership targeting, or decapitation, which involves the removal of an organization’s leader, has been utilized in various military conflicts. The use of drones has been particularly consequential in such schemes, earning themselves the reputation of being “Washington’s weapon of choice.” The existing literature on leadership targeting gravitates around the question of the practice’s strategic effectiveness, focusing on the targeted groups’ internal characteristics to explain their (in)ability to withstand decapitation. However, this literature overlooks a key feature of terrorist groups, namely their identity’s organizational dynamics. Highlighting the importance of group identities in determining the outcome of decapitations, this article fills this void. Looking at the cases of al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen, it argues that groups which have a global identity are likely to retain cohesion when their leaders are the victim of decapitation while groups whose identity stems from an ethnic or tribal lineage tend to fragment, therefore creating “veto players.”
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Drones, Leadership, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen
  • Author: Austin Schiano, Juan E. Chebly, Federico Ruiz
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University
  • Abstract: I deologically terrorist organizations have taken an increased prominence in the public consciousness. These organizations draw from a global support base, including young and increasingly educated populations. These organizations often take shape in the scope of a larger sentiment, and are able to rise to prominence through an ability to engage alienated individuals who are often on the margins of society. For many around the world, this issue has become an inescapable and harsh reality. It is time that we evaluate what is causing the growth of these networks, and consider sustainable development solutions to combat them. It is this paper’s attempt to highlight some examples of sustainable development solutions that successfully counter violent extremism, and to provide recommendations based on these successful examples. The answer to many of these problems can be having a bottom-up approach to building stronger communities. Inclusion and participation in public policy can empower citizens of all ages to become agents of human development and kick-start a virtuous cycle of peace that effectively eradicates extremism. It is the responsibility of public institutions to recognize best practices and support them to their best capacity with adequate policy and regulation. It is clear that we must first understand terrorism and its various foundations, before we can meaningfully fight against it.
  • Topic: Development, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, United Nations, Syria
  • Author: Pavlo Ignatiev
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: AUSTRAL: Brazilian Journal of Strategy International Relations
  • Institution: Postgraduate Program in International Strategic Studies, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
  • Abstract: Iraqis very important for the world community because of its strategic position at the crossroads between the Persian Gulf, theMideteraneanSeaand theRed Seaalong with huge oil and mineral wealth. Moreover, Iraqi case illustrates all aspects of the US Middle Eastern policy since the end of the Cold War. The article analyses political and economic processes in Iraq after the demise of Saddam Hussain’s regime, evaluates the efficiency of post-war reconstruction of this Arab country in security and economic fields, singles out the reasons behind the civil war between Sunni and Shia followers, explains the paradox of semi-independent status of Iraqi Kurdistan as well as foreign policy of official Baghdad towards important neighbours – Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The rise of Islamic State of Iraq andLevantcapitalizing on sectarian devide and an attempt of Iraqi leadership to neutralize this threat also has become the part of analyzis.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Violent Extremism, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Baghdad, Saudi Arabia, Jordan
  • Author: Edward Marks, Michael B. Kraft
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: The issues that faced the Obama administration and will face the Trump administration—as well as the basic policies and programs—had roots in previous generations, some of them going back to the 1970’s and President Richard Nixon’s administration. Many programs conceived and developed during previous administrations continued, evolved, and were expanded during subsequent administrations. These programs include antiterrorism training for American and foreign law enforcement officials, the interagency Counter Terrorism Financing (CTF) and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs, and the ever pressing need for improved international cooperation and intelligence sharing. They are likely to continue, in one form or another, as ongoing efforts. This article is adapted from a draft of a forthcoming book: U.S Counterterrorism efforts, from Nixon to Bush. (CPC Press/Taylor&Francis Group).
  • Topic: Science and Technology, History, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, 9/11
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kristin A. Wagner, Satgin Hamrah, Benjamen Franklen Gussen, Robert Mason, Robert Maguire, Adi Saleem Bharat, Lauren Fisher, Joseph Sadek, Dalia Ghanem-Yazbek, Serhat S. Çubukçuoğlu
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Our Spring 2016 volume encapsulates the dangerous developments in MENA over the course of the past year. While the international community hoped for a resolution to the five-year Syrian Civil War, the conflict has further divided the region into a sectarian split, pitting Shia Iran and the Sunni gulf states on opposing sides. Additionally, Russia’s brief military intervention, finally winding down as of March 2016, has further destabilized the country and significantly increased the flow of refugees into the heartland of Europe. With the November 2015 Paris attacks, the threat of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) to the west was finally realized, calling into question ongoing efforts to counter violent extremism, as well as to resolve the Syrian Civil War. Meanwhile, Turkey’s increasing two-front war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Daesh has resulted in a series of deadly terrorist attacks throughout the country, putting further pressure on Turkish leadership to both find a solution to the Kurdish question and stem the refugee flow transiting northward from Syria. It is through this lens that the Spring 2016 edition has been crafted. With conflict and instability abound, we present first an exclusive interview with Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Salim al-Jabouri. On a more positive note, JMEPP also interviewed Tunisia’s Minister of Economic Infrastructure and Sustainable Development, Hedi Larbi, on Tunisia’s relative stability and success in its post-Jasmine Revolution transition. This year’s featured articles include Robert Mason’s assessment of the Saudi leadership and the perilous position it now finds itself in, both geopolitically and domestically; and Serhat S. Çubukçuoğlu’s eyes on Turkey’s natural gas ambitions as being linked to settling the Cypriot peace talks, as well as re-establishing partnerships with its regional neighbors in the eastern Mediterranean. Benjamen Franklen Gussen creates a new picture of a geographically reoriented Middle East, while Dylan MaGuire analyzes the no-fly zone option in Syria, with a look back to previous operations in Iraq and Libya. Focusing on gender, Dr. Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck looks at integration and inclusion of women in Algeria’s military, yet presents a critique on its superficiality. With an eye on Turkey’s destabilized southern border region, Joseph Sadek provides commentary on the political and geostrategic jostling between Turkey and its Kurdish population, as well as the complex relationships between Turkey, the PKK, and Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) rebels. Turning to terrorism, Lauren Fisher presents an argument against the stovepipe methodology of countering violent extremism by exploring the complexities behind the topic. Finally, we conclude with a literature review by Adi Saleem Bharat on the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement as it pertains to academia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Development, Gender Issues, Peace Studies, Infrastructure, Armed Forces, Violent Extremism, Women, Radicalization, Islamic State, Political stability, Arab Spring, Humanitarian Intervention, Syrian War, Negotiation, Kurds, BDS
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Israel, Libya, Palestine, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Cyprus
  • Author: Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Democracy
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: Iraqis of all ethnic and sectarian groups are fed up with the ineptitude and corruption of their political leaders and the institutions they control. Since 2015, they have turned out in record numbers to protest against their political elite. The protests that unfolded in 2015 and 2016 have highlighted two failings of Iraq’s post-2003 “democratic” order: 1) the entrenchment of a corrupt “partyocracy” that has captured the state and deepened sectarian divisions, and 2) the weakness of state institutions and the absence of the rule of law that have encouraged widespread corruption and fostered broad popular distrust of the post-Saddam Iraqi state.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Democracy, Rule of Law, Protests, Diversity
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Furkan Halit Yolcu
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
  • Institution: Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
  • Abstract: The Persian Gulf War was one of the defining incidents that shaped the current situation of the Middle East. There has been a vast amount of studies about this conflict but on a specific case why Israel stayed out of the conflict even though she was attacked continues to be an intriguing question for researchers. Saddam’s decision on invading Kuwait and the war following this is going to be summarized in order to present the structure when this incident took place and also to build an environment in which Israel’s decision on refraining itself from the war is going to be analyzed. Israel is perceived as one of the most agg- ressive countries in the Middle East mostly because of the wars that it included so far and the grand projects that it wants to put in practice in the future. With these assumptions it is rather hard to understand Israel’s passive behaviour during the Persian Gulf War and possible reasons of this is going to be main focus of this study to understand the motivations behind such policy. Israel’s state in that period and its capacity will be analyzed in order to understand whether this decision was taken directly and solely by Israel or it was a result of long-going dependency to another country or any other possible situation. Possible reasons that resulted with Israel’s passive attitude will be under the scope to explain whether what Israel did was rather rational or not. In addition to that, the advantages that Israel enjoyed and disadvantages that it faced will be shown at the last part of the study.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Conflict, Gulf War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Author: Jason Cooley
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the United States government embarked on a campaign to weaken the Islamic extremist organizations that were present in the world. Some of the steps that this lone superpower took to accomplish this objective could be easily detected. However, there were others that went undetected until investigative reporters wrote about them in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other reputable newspapers. Once these covert initiatives were exposed, certain parties began to conduct inquiries to ascertain whether or not they were helping the United States prevent terrorist attacks by Islamist networks. Two initiatives, which received a considerable amount of attention in the post-9/11 era, were the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone and enhanced interrogation programs. In 2009, the members of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee revealed that they would be conducting a thorough review of the latter. Approximately five years after this announcement, the committee released a report to the public that said sleep deprivation, waterboarding and other forms of torture did not lead to actionable intelligence. In other words, they did not produce any information that enabled the CIA to foil terrorist attacks which were on the verge of being carried out against the United States (Klapper and Dilanian 2014). A lot of the analyses of the CIA’s drone program were conducted by prominent academics like Fawaz Gerges. At one point in The Rise and Fall of Al Qaeda, this professor at the London School of Economics mentions how drone strikes often killed innocent civilians in Muslim countries. When civilians did perish, extremist organizations would see a rise in the number of recruits who were interested in executing terrorist operations (Gerges 2014, p.25).
  • Topic: Intelligence, Regime Change, 9/11, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eric Herring, Piers Robinson
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT PUBLISHED A DOSSIER on 24 September 2002 setting out its claims regarding Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Parliament was recalled for an emergency session on the same day to hear Prime Minister Tony Blair's presentation of it. The dossier stated that Iraq had WMD and was producing more. After the invasion in March 2003, no WMD were found. Ever since, there has been controversy as to whether the dossier reported accurately intelligence which turned out to be wrong, as Blair has claimed consistently, or whether the dossier deliberately deceived by intentionally giving the impression of greater Iraqi WMD capability and threat than the intelligence suggested.
  • Topic: Government, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Hemin Hawrami
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Policy Quarterly
  • Institution: ARI Movement
  • Abstract: The summer of 2014 was a fatal summer, not only for the Iraqi Kurdistan Region but also for the Middle East and the rest of the world. It witnessed the rise of one of the deadliest terrorist groups: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Kurdistan Regional Government and its Kurdish military forces, the peshmerga, have been instrumental in deterring ISIL’s further encroachment However, the author argues that the peshmerga cannot fight ISIL alone and calls upon the international community to provide unified support in the form of arms, equipment, and training. The author makes the case that this virulent terrorist group can only be destroyed through a coordinated strategy and support given by an international coalition.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Violent Extremism, ISIL
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Ersan Hurmuzlu
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Policy Quarterly
  • Institution: ARI Movement
  • Abstract: The Turkmens, descendents of the Oghuz confederation of Turkic-speaking nomadic tribes of the early Middle Ages, are currently scattered across the Middle East and Central Asia. Focusing on the Turkmen populations of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iran, the author delves into their situation as minority groups who are barred from political participation and from expressing their cultural identity. This plight has only been exacerbated for the Iraqi Turkmens since the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In order to overcome socio-political marginalization, the author advocates for Turkmens to unite and form linkages with other minority groups.
  • Topic: Culture, Minorities, Identities, Marginalization
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Andrew Radin
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In developing U.S. intervention policy in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and most recently Syria, the 1992 to 1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina has repeatedly been used as an analogy. For example, John Shattuck, a member of the negotiating team at the Dayton peace talks that ended the war, wrote in September 2013 that for Syria “the best analogy is Bosnia…Dayton was a major achievement of diplomacy backed by force…A negotiated solution to the Syria crisis is possible, but only if diplomacy is backed by force.” Many other analysts and policymakers with experience in the Bosnian conflict—such as Nicholas Burns, the State Department spokesman at the time; Christopher Hill, a member of Richard Holbrooke's negotiating team; and Samantha Power, who began her career as a journalist in Bosnia—also invoked the Bosnian war to urge greater U.S. involvement in Syria. Although the rise of ISIS has significantly altered the conflict over the last year, echoes of the Bosnian conflict remain in Syria: the conflict is a multiparty ethnic civil war, fueled by outside powers, in a region of critical interest to the United States.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Libya, Kosovo, Syria
  • Author: Stephanie J. Nawyn, Nur Banu Kavakli Birdal
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This analysis offers an evaluation of the last three elections of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq. These three elections included the regional parliamentary elections in September 2013, and the local and federal elections held simultaneously in April 2014. The KRG, as a federal region, exists in the north of Iraq where Kurds have managed their own affairs through a regional government since 1992. The KRG elections have very little in common with elections in the rest of Iraq. Compared to the rest of Iraq, the “region” has experienced a very different trajectory during the last two decades. As a postwar region, the KRG strives to solidify a stable democracy in a landlocked region, which suffers from minimal economic capital and weak democratic culture.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey
  • Author: Alia Braley, Srdja Popovic
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Attacking terrorism at its root, through slow and incremental cultural change, will pay off in the end, but this process is a difficult sell to those facing IS now. Such a long-term view neither benefits the people struggling to survive each day under IS’s murderous and authoritarian reign, nor does it equip the international security community concerned about IS’s immediate threat to regional stability. There is another solution. If what is needed is a relatively rapid rearrangement of social conditions that would cut off IS’s critical sources of power, then there may be no better route than collective nonviolent action undertaken by Iraqi and Syrian civilians. Collective nonviolent movements have been shown to be more effective than violent movements, even against highly violent or authoritarian opponents. Such a movement might take a page from IS’s own book, and tap into the same sources of power that have been indispensible to its success. After all, IS did not attract an army of nearly 30,000 fighters and capture a cumulative swathe of land larger than the United Kingdom merely because it had weapons. IS has flourished by successfully filling at least two critical power vacuums within Iraqi and Syrian society. It has seized upon a powerful narrative during a time of turbulence and confusion, and it has delivered necessary human services in places where the state has proved incompetent. However, a nonviolent collective movement of Syrian and Iraqi citizens could fill these power vacuums much more convincingly than IS, and in so doing, cripple IS’s power in the short term and impede the growth of new terrorist movements in the long term...
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Authoritarianism, Islamic State, Civilians
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Antonia Chayes
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Drones. Global data networks. The rise, and eventual primacy, of non-international armed conflict. All things the framers of the Geneva Conventions could have never fully conceived when doing their noble work in 1949; all things that rule warfare in the world today. So, how do we legally employ these new tools in these new circumstances? In her latest book, Antonia Chayes, former Under Secretary of the Air Force, explores the current legal underpinnings of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and cyber warfare, rooting out the ambiguities present within each realm, and telling the narrative of how these ambiguities have come to shape international security today. The grounded and creative solutions that she offers in terms of role definition and transparency will provide crucial guidance as the United States continues to navigate the murky modern military-legal landscape. This excerpt is a chapter from Borderless Wars: Civil-Military Disorder and Legal Uncertainty forthcoming in 2016 from Cambridge University Press.
  • Topic: International Law, Counterinsurgency, Law, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism, Drones, Conflict, Borders, Law of Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Harlan Ullman
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Dr. Harlan Ullman, a distinguished Fletcher School alumnus, sat down with the Fletcher Security Review recently to discuss the past, present, and future of U.S. and global security, as well as his most recent book, A Handful of Bullets: How the Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Still Menaces the Peace. He is Chairman of the Killowen Group, which advises leaders in business and government; Chairman of CNIGuard Ltd and CNIGuard Inc. which are infrastructure protection firms; Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council and Business Executives for National Security, both in Washington, D.C.; on the Advisory Board for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe; and Director Emeritus of the Wall Street Fund, one of the nation’s first mutual funds. A former naval officer with 150 combat operations and missions in Vietnam in patrol boats and other commands at sea, he was principal author of the ’Shock and Awe’ doctrine, which was released in 1996. With seven books and thousands of articles and columns to his credit, he was made UPI’s Arnaud de Borchgrave distinguished columnist earlier this year.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, War, History, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Sullivan, Mark Pyman, Jodi Vittori, Alan Waldron, Nick Seymour
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Over the last 14 years of war, our military developed incredible relationships both within and outside the Department of Defense. The concept of the Joint Force reached its full potential as we relied on one another in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. We learned how to effectively integrate the talents of our Special Operations Forces and conventional forces on the battlefield. We integrated with other government agencies on the battlefield, ranging from the CIA to USAID, moving the concept of “one team, one fight” forward. We even worked closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian organizations, often finding ourselves in similar areas with similar goals. As we continue to downsize in Afghanistan and our efforts in Iraq remain at the advisory level, my biggest fear is that we forget the lessons we have paid for with the blood and sweat of our brothers and sisters. It is absolutely critical that the military retain the myriad lessons learned from these 14 years for future conflicts. Toward the goal of capturing important lessons learned, Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme has published the valuable handbook, “Corruption Threats and International Missions: Practical Guidance for Leaders.” This well-written and easy-to-use document will be invaluable to leaders of any organization conducting operations in areas where corruption exists, but especially for our military leaders of today and tomorrow.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Corruption, Peacekeeping, Book Review
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, United Kingdom, United States of America
  • Author: Tom Keatinge
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: The rapid rise of Islamic State[1] has galvanised the international community to take action to contain it. One issue in particular – financing – has drawn increasing attention from policy-makers. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel noted in August 2014, "ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group…they are tremendously well funded."[2] He elaborated on this further in a September testimony to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, stating that the United States would work with international partners "to cut off ISIL’s funding" and that "the Department of Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence is working to disrupt ISIL’s financing and expose their activities."[3] This decision by international partners to jointly focus on finance disruption has resulted in a bombing campaign partly targeting oil refineries (a major source of funds for Islamic State) and in a UN Security Council Resolution that exhorts the international community to inhibit foreign terrorist fighter travel and otherwise disrupt financial support.[4] ​ But will it work? This article will give necessary broader context on this key question by exploring in more general terms the importance of financing for terrorist and insurgent groups and the extent to which disrupting their funding can reduce the security threat posed by such groups. Specifically considering the evolution of Islamic State, this article will first review the importance of financing in conflict, then assess the way in which funding models develop. It will argue that, once groups move from a reliance on externally sourced funding to generating sufficient internal financing – a path several groups have now followed – disruption becomes significantly more challenging and complex. The international community consistently fails to prioritise the early disruption of terrorist and insurgent financing – an attitude that needs to change...
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Counterinsurgency, Finance, Islamic State, Financial Crimes
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, Global Focus
  • Author: Emily Knowles, Karolina MacLachlan
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Corruption, instability, and conflict tend to go hand in hand. Twelve of the fifteen lowest-ranking countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index are currently experiencing violent insurgencies, extremist activity, or other signs of deep-seated instability. [1] Systemic, embedded corruption is a thread that runs through such seemingly disparate events as the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the conflict in Ukraine, the failure of the Malian army in 2012, the growth of Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the retreat of the Iraqi security forces in the face of ISIS. However, the effects of corruption are not limited to exacerbating the risk of conflict; corruption also makes it more difficult for states to respond to threats and for international institutions and other actors to offer effective assistance.[2] Assistance to fragile and failing states tends to include two types of engagement: international peacekeeping and/or stabilization operations and defense capacity building (i.e. assistance to the recipient states’ security forces). But without anticipating and mitigating the risks that corruption poses, the international community risks the intent of security assistance being subverted, the assistance wasted, and the success rate of stabilization operations being severely impaired. In particular, misappropriation of funds, vanishing resources, and a reliance on malign power-brokers can irreparably damage the operational success of a mission. This article is based on the research investigating the international community’s approach (or lack thereof) to tackling corruption in Afghanistan carried out by Transparency International UK’s global Defence and Security Programme (TI-DSP) and based on over 75 interviews with civilian and military officials. This work is supported by insights from TI-DSP’s long-term engagement in the Building Integrity training for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.[3] In the resulting report, we argue that corruption has had a significant impact on ISAF mission success and that the international community’s reaction to corrupt practices was too little, too late. We point to three main ways in which corruption and uncontrolled money flows can diminish the effectiveness of the mission and offer a planning and risk assessment framework as the first step toward addressing corruption risks on operations...
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Peacekeeping, Arab Spring, Conflict, Transparency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Middle East, Nigeria, Mali
  • Author: Ibrahim Warde
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: ​ The United States and Saudi Arabia lavished money and weapons on unsavory characters during the anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s, giving little thought to the possibility of a blowback or boomerang effect—that they would in effect be funding and arming their future enemies. It is indeed ironic that the principal bankrollers of the jihad later became the main targets of offshoots of that jihad. A non-negligible part of the money and weapons sent by the United States to Iraq, in particular as part of the “Sunni awakening”, is now in the hands of extremists.With the near-exclusive focus on military developments, the financial front of the war on terror is all but ignored. This article traces the evolution of checkbook diplomacy in conflicts involving the Islamic world.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, History, Finance, Weapons , Islamism, War on Terror, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, United States of America
  • Author: Ian M. Ralby
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: On 16 September 2007, the accountability of private armed contractors became a global concern. A team of armed guards from the US company Blackwater Worldwide, operating on a US State Department contract, opened fire that day in Baghdad’s Nisor Square, killing seventeen Iraqi civilians and injuring an additional twenty. It took more than seven years before four of the individuals responsible were ultimately convicted of either first degree murder or voluntary manslaughter by a jury in a U.S. Federal District Court. A fifth member of the Blackwater team had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter.[1] The initial lack of consequences and the slow speed of justice provided the watchful world with strong evidence that armed contractors operate in a zone of legal twilight, devoid of accountability. ​ The rise of private armed contracting was one of the most distinctive operational developments of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, famously stated: “Our corporate goal is to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did to the postal service.”[2] Throughout both conflicts, the hiring policies of several Western governments, particularly those of the United States, helped Blackwater and numerous other companies move toward that goal. By December 2008, for example, 69% of the United States’ total force in Afghanistan was comprised of private contractors, roughly 15% of which were armed.[3] While there are no reliable statistics on the size of the global private armed security industry, there is little doubt that it has grown and contracted with the surge and decline of Western engagement in armed conflict. New conflicts on the horizon, however, suggest the possibility of a resurgence of the industry, reigniting concerns about accountability. The proliferation of private armed security companies has coincided with a proliferation of initiatives aimed at developing accountability for the industry. Numerous codes, standards, mechanisms and proposals – developed by governments, international organizations, civil society groups, private companies, trade associations, individuals, academics and multi-stakeholder bodies – have sought to address different issues surrounding armed contractors. Most of them, however, have been developed in response to incidents that already occurred. This reactive approach to accountability, while useful for addressing past problems, may leave the industry exposed to future problems. In other words, a code, standard or mechanism set up to prevent another Nisor Square incident may be very effective in doing so, but may fail to prevent a different and even more worrying incident in the future. This article begins with a brief overview of the most credible accountability initiatives, suggesting that the resulting collection forms a patchwork, rather than a framework for governing the conduct of armed contractors. The analysis then focuses on the process of selecting contractors, with a particular emphasis on the US Government. While cost has been a key factor in determining selection, the various initiatives discussed have made it possible for accountability and quality to be added as essential metrics. Ultimately, however, the failure of the accountability initiatives to remain current, much less forward-looking, means that the objective determinants of ‘accountability and quality’ may not be fit for purpose as the US and other Western powers begin to engage the services of armed contractors for assistance in new conflicts...
  • Topic: Security, War, Governance, Military Affairs, Regulation, Accountability
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Meg Guliford, Thomas McCarthy, Alison Russell, Michael M. Tsai, Po-Chang Huang, Feng-tai Hwang, Ian Easton, Matthew Testerman, Nikolas Ott, Anthony Gilgis, Todd Diamond, Michael Wackenreuter, Sebastian Bruns, Andrew Mark Spencer, Wendy A. Wayman, Charles Cleveland
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: The theme of this special edition is “Emerging Domains of Security.” Coupled with previously unpublished work developed under a prior “Winning Without War” theme, the articles therein honor Professor Martel’s diverse, yet forward-leaning, research interests. This edition maintains the journal’s four traditional sections of policy, history, interviews, and current affairs. Our authors include established academics and practitioners as well as two Fletcher students, Nikolas Ott and Michael Wackenreuter. Each of the articles analyzes critical issues in the study and practice of international security, and our authors make salient arguments about an array of security-related issues. The articles are borne out of countless hours of work by FSR’s dedicated editorial staff. I deeply appreciate the time and effort they devoted to the publication of this volume. They are full-time graduate students who masterfully balanced a host of responsibilities.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Intelligence, International Cooperation, International Law, History, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism, Cybersecurity, Navy, Conflict, Space, Interview, Army, Baath Party, Norms
  • Political Geography: China, Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Taiwan, Germany, Asia-Pacific, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Wackenreuter
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: On March 12, 2003, a week before the invasion of Iraq, a Principals Committee meeting of the National Security Council was held at the White House to formally decide the fate of the Iraqi Army.[1] The participants, having all received extensive briefings on the subject prior to meeting, voted unanimously and with little discussion that after disbanding the Republican Guard, the “regular soldiers” of the Iraqi Army would be called “back to duty.”[2] In spite of this decision, on May 23, 2003, L. Paul Bremer III—President Bush’s “special envoy” in Iraq—announced Coalition Provisional Authority Order No. 2, “Dissolution of Entities.” Among the relevant entities to be dissolved by the decree was the Iraqi Army.[3] In an interview with the journalist Robert Draper at the end of his presidency, President Bush commented on this apparent dissonance when he remarked, “The policy was to keep the army intact; didn’t happen.” When asked further of his reaction when he found out about the decree, Bush replied, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy, what happened?’”[4] Having endured significant criticism over CPA Order No. 2, Mr. Bremer was quick to defend himself, providing letters to The New York Times to and from the president “in order to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush’s comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House.”[5] Such a puzzling exchange over such an important topic serves to illustrate a larger point. That is, despite its centrality to America’s involvement in Iraq, from the emergence of the insurgency onward to its current conflict with ISIS, it still remains unclear how and why the decision to disband the Iraqi Army was made. In this paper, I demonstrate that the impetus for CPA Order No. 2 came from the prominent Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, and was carried out under the authority of Vice President Richard “Dick” Cheney by a small group of Chalabi’s supporters in the Office of the Vice President and the Pentagon. I do so first by establishing the lengths to which those in the vice president’s office, in concert with like-minded officials at the Defense Department, were willing to go in order to support Chalabi, who favored disbanding the army. Secondly, I identify the striking similarities between the events surrounding the order and other instances involving the vice president that involved a bypass of the normal interagency policy-making process...
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, History, Army, Baath Party, Iraq War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Buddhika Jayamaha
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has created an area where Turkish and Kurdish interests overlap: both parties are thoroughly alarmed at ISIL\'s expansion. However, delicate and sensitive cooperation against ISIL has to take place in the broader context of the complicated and evolving Kurdish-Turkish relationship. While Turkey develops its response to the ISIL threat and the Syrian crisis, it is also managing Kurdish relations as part of its effort to redefine the Turkish state and Turkish national identity. On their side, the Kurdish leaders — especially the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq — are compelled to deal with a complex and sometimes competing array of Kurdish organizational alliances and interests that cross international borders, while trying to deepen their relations with Ankara. Despite the complicated nature of the situation, there are reasons to be hopeful.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Relationships between entities form an important element of warfare. In the current conflict in Iraq and Syria, the military alignment (or lack thereof) of states will likely be a key determinant in the eventual outcome. However, states are not the only actors within Iraq-Syria that are forming and evolving in their relationships with others. Over the past several months, one interesting facet in regards to relationships between actors involved in the conflict has been how the Islamic State has received and accepted a number of pledges from other organizations and groups in its quest to establish and expand its caliphate.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: We are happy to publish Volume 7, Issue 1 (January/ February 2015) of the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis (CTTA) by the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. From a terrorism and counterterrorism perspective, the year 2014 was particularly significant. This was due as much to the potential impact of drawdown of US and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) from Afghanistan as to the declaration of the establishment of a so-called Islamic Caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). While the former has emboldened old and established groups like Al Qaeda Central, the Afghan Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, among others, the claim of the establishment of the “so called Islamic State” by ISIS seem to have galvanized disparate elements within the Muslim world, drawing fighters in thousands to Iraq and Syria and spurring radicalization and extremism in many countries in an unprecedented scale.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria, Singapore