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  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush will enter his second term leading a country that is at war on five fronts at once. Four are clear: in Iraq and Afghanistan, against al-Qaeda and its global affiliates, and within the homeland. The fifth front, however, is the poor stepsister to the other four. It is being fought with an arsenal of outmoded and dysfunctional weaponry, a set of confused and self-defeating battlefield tactics, and no clear strategy for victory. Such is the status of the U.S. effort to fight the "battle of ideas" -- the ideological war to prevent Islamists and their sympathizers from capturing the social, cultural, economic, and political high ground in Muslim societies around the world.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 22-23, officials from several countries will hold a conference in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, regarding Iraq's future. The meeting will represent the first major international event focused on Iraq since the reelection of President George W. Bush and the resignation of U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell. Though organized to improve international assistance to Iraq, the conference promises risks as well as rewards.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Coalition and Iraqi government forces are moving to retake Falluja from insurgents who have held the city since April 2004. On the evening of November 8, U.S. troops with large-scale air support began to penetrate at several points, encountering some resistance. The coalition and the Iraqi government are gambling that they can break the insurgents hold on the city with acceptable losses and without a protracted battle. The insurgents are hoping to avoid annihilation, inflict embarrassing losses, create an image of wanton destruction by the coalition and government forces, and force an inconclusive end to the fighting. Indeed, Falluja has become a kind of "Stalingrad on the Euphrates" -- a city imbued with political, military, and symbolic consequence, and a battle whose outcome will have long-term implications.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) have had to confront both bureaucratic red tape and insurgent terrorism in their effort to recruit, train, and equip the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Nevertheless, progress is being made. Equipment is arriving, ISF personnel are being trained, and the flow of new recruits (motivated by the prospect of stable employment and, in many cases, patriotic pride) continues in the face of terrorist attacks on ISF personnel and facilities. Ultimately, however, success in creating a relatively stable, if not peaceful, Iraq will depend in part on whether the ISF can surmount the operational challenges it is liable to face in the coming months and years, both in conjunction with coalition forces and, ultimately, on its own.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The counterinsurgency in Iraq has entered a critical phase: the start of operations by U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces to pacify insurgent-held areas, smoothing the way for January 2005 elections. In recent weeks, coalition and Iraqi forces have battled insurgents in Tal Afar, Samarra, Mahmudiya, and Latifiya, as well as Sadr City and Haifa Street in Baghdad. They now appear to be preparing to move against Falluja, which has been described by some U.S. officials as the "center of gravity" of the Sunni insurgency.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Ramadan starts on October 15 or 16, depending on the sighting of the moon. Last year on the first day of Ramadan, five car bombs went off in Baghdad within an hour, including one in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) offices. There is a disturbing prospect that the insurgents could try in Ramadan this year to mount a more significant offensive than any attacks to date. Such an offensive would underline the insurgents' claim to act in the cause of Islam; it could significantly complicate plans for elections in Iraq; and it might aim to influence the U.S. elections.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Surprise in war is inevitable. It is impossible to anticipate all enemy actions or the impact of the social and political forces unleashed by war. To succeed, one must be able to rapidly adjust one's plans when their underlying assumptions are proven wrong. In this regard, the U.S. performance in Iraq has been found wanting. The war brought surprises in four areas: The insurgency. The Sunni insurgency resulted from the way the war was fought by both sides: U.S. forces brought about the rapid collapse of the regime without instilling a sense of defeat among its members, while many members of the regime's security forces survived the war because, whenever possible, they relied on paramilitary forces drawn from the dregs of Iraqi society to do the fighting for them. Moreover, the U.S. failure to realize that the fall of Baghdad did not end the war enabled the resistance to organize itself and stay one step ahead of coalition forces. The United States must prevent further entrenchment of the resistance and stamp out the miniature "republics of fear" that have emerged in the Sunni Triangle and deterred many residents from embracing the Iraqi Interim Government. It must be remembered, however, that successful counterinsurgency campaigns often take years to bear results. The question is whether the U.S. presence will become politically untenable before Iraqi political and security structures are in place.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Todd Orenstein, Max Sicherman
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The effects of resistance operations have been felt in terms of stability and governance, reconstruction, and military security. Sunni resistance has removed some areas from government and coalition control and permitted the emergence of local rule by anticoalition and antigovernment elements. Officials working with the government have been killed, wounded, kidnapped, or otherwise intimidated, again with the effect of limiting government influence.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Todd Orenstein, Max Sicherman
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The prospects for violence in Iraq were much discussed in the period leading to the June 28, 2004, transition to Iraqi sovereignty. The "smart money" was on the expectation that violence against the transitional government and coalition forces would increase. This has proved to be the case, with Sunni-based resistance actions in Iraq increasing in number, scope, sophistication, and lethality. Between the beginning of June and the end of August, some 150 U.S. soldiers have been killed in action and 1,977 have been wounded. It is now possible to speak not only of certain cities that have slipped beyond coalition or government control (such as Falluja, Ramadi, and Samarra), but also of "zones of resistance" that extend across multiple cities and towns in Sunni Iraq.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Anna Solomon-Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The fractious and dangerous Iraqi Shi'i cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is once again attempting to foment a rebellion. In scenes virtually identical to those of his April-May 2004 uprising, his militia is in the streets, Shi'is are demonstrating en masse, and he is alternately talking peace and vowing to fight to the death. Iraq has changed since the April rebellion, however, with al-Sadr now pitted against the coalition as well as the new Interim Iraqi Government and its expanding security forces.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia