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  • Author: Gordon S. Bardos
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: The decline in the number of Balkan jihad volunteers setting off for the Islamic State over the past couple of years should not lull observers into the belief that the threat posed by the militant Islamist movement in southeastern Europe has declined as well. In fact, the collapse of the Caliphate might increase the threat in the Balkans; as Bajro Ikanović, a Bosnian extremist warned, “your intelligence agencies made a mistake thinking that they would be rid of us, however, the problem for them will be the return of individuals trained for war.” Ikanović himself will not be carrying out this threat, however, because he was killed in Syria, but no doubt many of his comrades feel the same way.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Europe, Bosnia, Middle East, Syria
  • 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: 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: Seth G. Jones, Polina Beliakova
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Insurgencies are often thought of as domestic conflicts between state and non-state actors seeking to challenge governmental legitimacy, overthrow the government, or take territorial control from the state. However, thinking about insurgency merely in terms of domestic affairs substantially limits our perspective, and might be misleading both in terms of theory and policy. In addition, the tendency of policymakers and scholars to focus their attention on counterinsurgency bears the risk of considering the solution before understanding all nuances of the problem. Seth G. Jones’ Waging Insurgent Warfare is truly a book about insurgency. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, Jones analyzes how insurgencies start, strategies and tactics used by insurgent groups, their organizational structures, and their informational campaigns. The author devotes particular attention to the role of outside support for insurgencies from various types of actors including great power states. Finally, he addresses the issue of how insurgencies end. Only in the concluding chapter does Jones discuss the implications of the key findings of the book for counterinsurgency.
  • Topic: International Relations, History, Counterinsurgency, Non State Actors, Military Affairs, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • 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: Jennifer Rowland, Nada Zohdy, Brian Katulis, Michael Wahid Hanna, Faysal Itani, Muhammad Y. Idris, Joelle Thomas, Tamirace Fakhoury, Farouk El-Baz, Kheireddine Bekkai, Amira Maaty, Sarah McKnight
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • 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 2015 volume captures the troubling developments of the past year in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2014, the Syrian conflict that has so beguiled the international community spilled over into Iraq, with the swift and shocking rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). ISIS is causing the ever-complex alliances in the region to shift in peculiar ways. In Iraq, US airstrikes provide cover for Iranian-backed militias fighting ISIS; while in Yemen, the United States supports a Saudi intervention against a different Iranianbacked armed group that has taken control of the Yemeni capital. Meanwhile, simmering political disputes in Libya escalated into a full-blown civil war, sparking concern in neighboring Egypt, where the old authoritarian order remains in control despite the country’s popular revolution. The Gulf countries contemplate their responses to record-low oil prices, continuing negotiations between the United States and Iran, and the threat of ISIS. And Tunisia remains one of the region’s only bright spots. In November, Tunisians voted in the country’s first free and fair presidential elections. This year’s Journal brings new analysis to many of these complex events and broader regional trends. We begin with the positive: an exclusive interview with former Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa. In this year’s feature articles: Brian Katulis zooms out to assess the Obama administration’s record in the Middle East over the past six years; Michael Wahid Hanna refutes the notion that the Iraqi and Syrian borders will need to be redrawn as a result of ISIS’ takeover; and Faysal Itani analyzes the US coalition’s strategy to defeat ISIS, arguing that it cannot succeed without empowering Sunni civilians. Muhammed Idris and Joelle Thomas turn to economics in an assessment of the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to go green. Tamirace Fakhoury points out a blind spot in the study of the Middle East and North Africa: how large diaspora communities affect political dynamics in their home countries. Farouk El-Baz takes us to Egypt, where he proposes a grand economic plan to pull the country out of poverty and set it on a path toward longterm growth. From Egypt, we move west to the oft-neglected country of Algeria, where Kheireddine Bekkai argues for more inclusive education policies on national identity. Finally, Amira Maaty comments on the region’s desperate need for robust civil societies, while Sarah McKnight calls for improvements in Jordan’s water policies.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Development, Environment, Migration, History, Natural Resources, Social Movement, Islamic State, Economy, Political stability, Arab Spring, Military Intervention, Identities, Diversification
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Algeria, North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America
  • 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: 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