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  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State has been moving aggressively to exploit the chaos of Libya since last summer, with profound risks for the Mediterranean region and beyond Libya is a perfect breeding ground for an expanded Islamic State, with large amounts of heavy weaponry, systemic lawlessness, a divided population, and sustained armed conflict The group has formed three active and capable groups in Libya-in Tripoli, Fezzan, and Barqa-all of which have conducted deadly attacks in recent months The phenomenon of Islamic State affiliates-beginning in the summer of 2014, before which the group was entirely focused on Iraq and Syria-is actually in the tradition of its arch-rival al-Qaeda the presence and power of the Islamic State in Libya will likely increase as conditions in Syria and Iraq deteriorate for the group, and conditions in Libya continue to worsen.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Libya, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State's murder of Jordanian hostage Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh was both a message to the group's fighters that it can counter the coalition's relentless airstrikes as well as an offensive move designed to provoke a high-profile overreaction The air campaign against the Islamic State has been relentless while at the same time has receded from the headlines-a double blow to the group in that it suffers the losses but doesn't benefit from the attendant spectacle The drawn-out 'negotiations' over this past month-while the hostage was already dead-were likely intended to sow division and tension in Jordan, and draw attention to the issue as long as possible before the gruesome finale While Jordan is understandably enraged and will have to strike back, the most effective response might be an escalation that continues to kill the group's fighters away from the headlines.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: While the threat of an immediate escalation between Israel and Hizballah appears to have subsided after deadly tit-for-tat attacks, the trend lines suggest greater conflict ahead In an important and ominous speech on January 30, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah created, in effect, one long front against Israel that now includes Syria and the Golan Heights as well as Lebanon, increasing the potential for conflict with Israel Iran is no longer moving in the shadows but rather is openly coordinating strategy with its proxy Hizballah as the two seek to strengthen and expand 'the resistance' against Israel All parties involved have specific reasons to avoid a near-term conflict-the upcoming Israeli elections, ongoing Iranian nuclear negotiations, Hizballah's commitments in Syria-but shifting regional power dynamics will only increase the likelihood of serious fighting between them.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: De juillet à décembre 2013, la Tunisie a connu une crise politique dont les éléments de sortie n'étaient pas fournis d'avance, mais dont l'issue était assez claire : violences ou compromis. Depuis la promulgation de la Constitution et la nomination d'un nouveau gouvernement indépendant dit de technocrates, remplaçant la troïka emmenée par le parti islamiste An-Nahda, en janvier 2014, le pays est entré dans une nouvelle phase de transition. Si celle-ci semble moins agitée que la précédente, son issue demeure tout aussi incertaine. L'enjeu de la période actuelle est de prolonger le consensus issu du dialogue national et de préparer le prochain rendez-vous électoral, qui va suspendre en partie le compromis, tout en prévenant le retour de la polarisation. Plutôt que de se concentrer de manière exclusive sur un partage du pouvoir qui implique l'équilibre électoral entre islamistes et sécularistes, les forces politiques devraient aussi envisager les scénarios les plus inattendus, s'entendre pour limiter le pouvoir des gagnants et garantir la sérénité des perdants.
  • Topic: Politics, Armed Struggle, Reconstruction, Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The jihadi surge is the tragic, violent outcome of steadily deteriorating political dynamics. Instead of a rash military intervention and unconditional support for the Iraqi government, pressure is needed to reverse sectarian polarisation and a disastrous record of governance.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite the recent military surge against Somalia's armed Islamist extremist and self-declared al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab, its conclusive "defeat" remains elusive. The most likely scenario – already in evidence – is that its armed units will retreat to smaller, remote and rural enclaves, exploiting entrenched and ever-changing clan-based competition; at the same time, other groups of radicalised and well-trained individuals will continue to carry out assassinations and terrorist attacks in urban areas, including increasingly in neighbouring countries, especially Kenya. The long connection between Al-Shabaab's current leadership and al-Qaeda is likely to strengthen. A critical breakthrough in the fight against the group cannot, therefore, be achieved by force of arms, even less so when it is foreign militaries, not the Somalia National Army (SNA), that are in the lead. A more politically-focused approach is required.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: It is necessary to rethink the assumptions and theory of change of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs in current situations of armed violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Arms Control and Proliferation, Development, War, Armed Struggle
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas seems intent on using Hezbollah's "bullets plus ballots" approach to gain a military and political foothold in the West Bank, the PA, and the PLO.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The loss of government control in a major city may be just the wakeup call Iraqi politicians need to embrace a more ambitious reconciliation agenda.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Military coordination with Hezbollah may be providing a quick fix, but the country's long-term strength can only be achieved with a reconstituted March 14 coalition.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Mosul crisis highlights how ISIS has established a potent cadre of foreign jihadists who freely operate across the rapidly disappearing Iraq-Syria border.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Phillip Smyth
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iran's proxy groups have been working closely with Iraqi government forces for some time and will likely become more important to Baghdad in light of recent events.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Encouraging signs have emerged that the collapse of federal government control in Iraq may have slowed and that Baghdad is beginning the transition to counteroffensive operations to regain ground. Massive mobilization of largely Shiite volunteers has given Baghdad an untrained but motivated "reserve army" that can be used to swamp cross-sectarian areas around the Iraqi capital. All available formed military units have been pulled out of reserve and brought toward Baghdad to defend the capital. In this effort, all Department of Border Enforcement units have been relocated from the country's borders, and Iraqi army and Federal Police units have been redeployed from southern Iraq. Isolated federal government units are scattered across northern Iraq, in some cases hanging on against Sunni militants with the support of adjacent Kurdish forces.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Law Enforcement, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Events on the battlefield will reveal the true effects of the crisis, but the ISIS campaign in Iraq could ultimately help the Syrian opposition and hurt the Assad regime.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Michael Semple
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan Taliban Movement has publicly rejected the legitimacy of the April 2014 elections. The Taliban's military leadership has issued instructions to officials and commanders to disrupt the elections but has left field commanders with wide discretion on how to go about doing so. Many in the Taliban follow the electoral contest closely and comment on developments in terms very similar to how they are described by the political and educated class in Kabul. However, the anti-election sentiment in the Taliban leaves no scope for any faction to cooperate with the process. The Taliban will likely be able to intensify violence approaching the election, but not sufficiently to derail the overall process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Islam, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Two years ago, the Chicago international summit agreed on long-term targets for the size of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and committed to continued international financial support until 2024. Since then, the ANSF have taken over lead responsibility for Afghanistan's security and have by most accounts performed well, taking substantial casualties but holding their own against the Taliban. However, the ANSF still rely heavily on U.S. financial and logistical support and military "enablers" in such roles as air support, medevac and reconnaissance. The Afghan government's failure to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States during the past eight months has coincided with, and undoubtedly contributed to, declining political support for the international engagement in Afghanistan. Not only has U.S. civilian aid in the current fiscal year been halved, but the White House recently announced a complete U.S. troop pull-out by the end of 2016, except for "normal levels" to protect the U.S. Embassy and oversee military assistance. That is close to a "zero option," albeit in 2016 and not 2014. The announcement raises serious questions about the staying power of international security funding (which would amount to billions of dollars per year into the early 2020s if the Chicago commitments hold); management of security assistance; provision of logistical support and enablers; whether Afghanistan's domestic revenues will grow fast enough to meet its own ANSF funding commitments; and timing of any future ANSF reductions in relation to possible negotiations with the Taliban insurgency. The ANSF (especially the Afghan National Army, or ANA) was largely a creation of the United States, which has advocated for and endorsed its current size and cost. It would be irresponsible to create such a force and then turn around and undermine it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Terrorism, International Security, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Chicago
  • Author: Gunnar M. Sørbø
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: While the crisis in South Sudan that started in December 2013 was triggered by a power struggle in the ruling party (SPLM), the causes for the rapid breakdown of peace run deep. Over time, several rebel groups were integrated into the army (SPLA) without resolving the causes of their rebellions. The army therefore became a coalition of ethnic militias loyal to their commanders, and when the shooting started in Juba, the country blew apart along these fault lines. However, the idea that there are two discernible camps – i.e. a Dinka-dominated government and a Nuer-dominated opposition – is grossly inaccurate. South Sudan has been at odds with itself for a long time. A weak but centralised government, scarce resources, patronage politics, the legacy of war, and a lack of peace dividends have provided a recipe for crisis and collapse for years. While Uganda's military involvement has given the conflict a dangerous regional dynamic, the greater challenge will be to move beyond striking a narrow peace deal between the main belligerents that will likely only restore the status quo. In order to reach a sustainable political solution a comprehensive rethink of South Sudan's national project is required that will address the root causes of the conflict.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, South Sudan, Juba
  • Author: Rabab el-Mahdi
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: The puzzle of Egypt's apparently wild swings from the Mubarak regime to a Muslim Brotherhood government and then back to a military dictatorship have been manipulated to fit the simplistic linear and binary categorical models of democratic transition, with an emphasis on procedural outcomes, when in fact deeper structural issues are at stake. Three challenges explain mainstream Egyptians' choices and the tumultuous path the revolution has been following. The first is the structural economic crisis facing Egypt, coupled with lack of state administrative capacity, which no government has been able to effectively deal with. The second is the repercussions of Egypt's post-colonial history, which as a consequence tends to see the army as the "saviour" and "liberator" of the nation. The third is the failure of alternative groups to to provide solid political alternatives for the majority to rally around against the two reactionary poles and their inability to devise strategies to break loose from and reconstruct the hegemonic discourse . Consequently, international actors who throw their weight behind one reactionary faction or the other based solely on pragmatic considerations of their ability to bring about stability will be backing the wrong horse.
  • Topic: Economics, Islam, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Joris Couvreur
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: On the eve of the Geneva II conference and amid continued fighting on the ground, this short paper seeks to draw up a roadmap, indicating the different stages and steps on the way to a sustainable political settlement of the conflict in Syria. A longer term perspective is put forward, adopting a broad-based and inclusive approach, focused on a Syrian-led transition process under international supervision with the assistance of key third countries, thus preparing the w ay for a multi-party democratic post-Baath future.
  • Topic: Political Violence, International Cooperation, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Jihadists are steadily capturing territory and resources and establishing a state in Syria and Iraq. The most capable jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), now controls swathes of territory, energy resources, and sophisticated military hardware in both countries. Although the extremists are currently occupied with fighting other nonregime armed groups and the Syrian and Iraqi regimes, these efforts are a means to an end: building a state from which to confront and target the United States, its allies, and its interests in the region. These jihadist groups also bring boundless suffering to the populations they control, and serve as a magnet for and inspiration to jihadists worldwide.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The collapse of two prominent coalition-supported Syrian rebel groups at the hands of al-Qaeda-affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) has not just compounded doubts against the capabilities and loyalties of these groups but also doubt as to whether any "moderate" rebel group can succeed. This long-simmering uncertainty about arming and training rebel groups that aren't as cohesive or even as moderate as once hoped throws into question the prospects of an acceptable military solution to the almost four-year long Syrian civil war. The coalition-equipped rebel groups Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front were overrun in northern Syria by JN-though most rebel groups have long cooperated with it and, unlike Washington, don't consider the group to be a terrorist organization. Reports of increased airstrikes against JN will further drive a wedge between most rebel groups and the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), that demands the primary target is the Bashar al-Assad regime and not extremist groups fighting it. The realities of settling the civil war exclusively, thus far, via rebel military might open up other avenues for non-military actors to assume a role in resolving the war; after all, there are an estimated 2.5 million refugees and another 6.5 internally displaced persons in Syria, with obvious needs that perhaps new Syrian civilian leadership might stand up to address.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The following IntelBrief is excerpted from The Soufan Group's recent long-form report on The Islamic State, which takes an in-depth look at the extremist group's operations across Iraq and Syria. From late 2011 up to today, The Islamic State has shown itself both tactically and strategically adept. After years of surviving as a persistently violent criminal/terrorist gang able to mount multiple synchronized attacks in urban areas in Iraq but little more, it achieved unparalleled gains when the collapse of government in northern and eastern Syria allowed it to expand across the border. At the same time, the sectarian approach of then-Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki had made the Sunni minority in Iraq ready to support any group that appeared to have the potential to reverse its increasing marginalization. It's accurate to say the group would still exist-but in nothing like its current form-had only one of those two catastrophes-Syria and Maliki-occurred; that both played out as they did made what has happened seem an almost inevitable accident of history.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: For a group that feeds on chaos, The Islamic State (IS) itself is rigidly structured and organized. The growing bureaucratic and administrative demands on IS as it attempts to govern the areas it controls-while under increasing military pressure-will stress the group and its structure like never before. The group benefits from ruling over populations that have little experience in effective government services, meaning that the very conditions that helped fuel IS's rise now give it wide latitude to deliver sub-par services for at least the near-term without risking revolt, at least for reasons of shoddy governance. From the caliph-level down to the district level, the group has a repetitive three-office ruling structure that provides easy-to-understand lanes of responsibility and authority, which is vital for a growing organization whose sole membership requirement is belief in its cause.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Like a tumor, the Islamic State (IS) feeds off the vitality of its unwilling hosts, sustaining itself from the economies of the areas it controls Efforts to deprive IS of its million-dollar-a-day revenue will be as difficult as it will be vital, since the group takes a percentage of local economic activity; hurting those economies to deprive IS of money will be counter-productive The coalition efforts to defeat IS militarily must be sufficient enough to thwart its advances while remaining targeted enough to ensure the vulnerable population doesn't unite with IS in collective suffering Destroying mobile oil refineries is an effective use of air power to deny IS more finances but it will prove less effective against destroying the percentage IS takes from everyday transactions that it calls taxes In short, the solution is to remove IS from the money, not the other way around, which only will only weaken and radicalize already struggling populations.
  • Topic: Economics, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: While there is understandable concern that an unknown percentage of foreign fighters fighting for the so-called Islamic State (IS) might return to their home countries intent on continuing the fight, IS appears intent on using them in suicide attacks in both Iraq and Syria IS goes to great length to publicize the foreign fighters who die in suicide attacks, which greatly enhances the group in the eyes of unstable people looking for martyrdom, creating a feedback loop of death A recent statement by IS showed that 80% of the suicide attacks in Iraq between September and early October were committed by foreign fighters; this continues a trend of IS using their foreign fighters in suicide attacks while Iraqi fighters take on the role of traditional soldiers Along with Saudi nationals, who conducted 60% of the suicide attacks referenced above, fighters from North Africa consistently feature prominently in IS suicide attacks, which closely matches the suicide bombing statistics from the 2003 Iraq war, though now there are more suicide operatives from western Europe
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Coalition airstrikes are intended to blunt the momentum of the self-declared Islamic State (IS) and provide time for a popular Sunni uprising that might never happen given the understandable lack of trust among all sides The Sunni Awakening that helped diminish the precursor group to IS in 2006-2009 is the successful outlier in Iraq's history of tragic uprisings; and it will not likely be replicated since the conditions that allowed it to succeed no longer exist To that end, one of the foundational assumptions of the effort to dismantle IS-that the Sunni tribes will soon rise up and oppose IS in a second Awakening-is built on uncertain ground Sunni tribal leaders realize there won't be anything near 2007-levels of support (material, financial, training) if they oppose IS en masse, and after gaining next to nothing politically after the first Awakening, there is no trust in a different outcome for any second Awakening Reports of a failed Sunni uprising in eastern Syria are additional disincentives for both Syrian and Iraqi Sunni populations to fight IS, and additional incentive to wait and see what external factors will emerge to change the status quo.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: With apparent heavy losses in Kobani, Syria, the so-called Islamic State (IS) is stepping up efforts to ignite the one fight it wants above all: a full sectarian war with Iraq's Shi'a population IS will likely accept serious losses, as long as it can claim to be the Sunni extremist vanguard in the fight against the Shi'a; this means the group will focus on high-profile and high-casualty attacks against Shi'a symbols and populations With the February 2006 bombing the 'Golden Mosque' in Samarra, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi finally got the fight he was looking for against the Shi'a and in doing so moved the IS precursor group AQI further up the list of the most feared and capable Iraqi extremist groups The new government of Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi will be pressured to overreact to IS attacks and to let loose the Shi'a militia that battled with both Sunni extremists and innocents alike eight years ago; a heavy-handed sectarian response will be a disaster for the country, even if it is asking a great deal for those being attacked to show restraint.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: In neighboring Iraq, over 1,100 Jordanians are believed to be fighting for the so-called Islamic State (IS) according to Jordanian former Prime Minister Maruf al-Bakhit, with another 200 having already died fighting Although that's only 0.0203% of Jordan's 6.4 million population, and enough for serious concern, it's testament to Jordanian society that with the constant fighting next door such a small percentage have taken up arms for IS After the 2005 Amman bombings, al Qaeda in Iraq (the precursor to IS) was widely despised in Jordan; now nine years later, over a thousand Jordanians are fighting for the same group In his October 18, 2014 remarks, Bakhit stated that there were between 2,000-4,000 Jordanians who adhere to the violent takfiri ideology most famously espoused by the late Jordanian Abu Mus'ab al Zarqawi Along with the fear of a radicalized population after a decade of war raging across two of its borders is the fear of what happens next in Iraq and Syria According to Bakhit, a partitioned Iraq is too problematic to work despite its obvious appeal amid the current fighting, with resources unevenly distributed across the country and Baghdad far too mixed for one side to claim.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The self-declared Islamic State (IS)'s strategy of exploiting and exacerbating divisions among its opponents ranks as one of its greatest weapons, and one of the coalition's greatest weaknesses Turkey's airstrikes against the Kurdistan Workers' Party in southeast Turkey are the latest example-and perhaps most damaging in the near-term-of opponents of IS fighting each other instead of the group IS was sustained during its weakest period (2008-2010) in part by exploiting real tensions between various groups-Sunni vs Shi'a, Sunni vs Sunni, Sunni vs Kurd, etc-that prevented an "everybody vs IS" opposition that remains the only way to defeat the group IS will continue to create/exacerbate/leverage the differences between the US and Turkey, Saudi Arabia/UAE and Qatar, the Kurds and various parties, so much so that focus is more on tactically keeping the coalition together and less on strategically strangling IS.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries, Kurdistan
  • Author: Florence Gaub
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The civil war in Syria is not the first of its kind to be extraordinarily complex, violent and difficult to settle. Lasting ten times longer than international wars (on average 7 years), civil wars are the longest, and tragically, the bloodiest of all forms of human conflict. Although 2% of countries in the world are undergoing some form of civil war at any given time, the phenomenon is less studied than international wars – in part because it is so much more complex to understand, prevent and bring to an end, as the Syrian example shows.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Arms Control and Proliferation, Human Welfare, Peace Studies, War, Political Theory, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Tobias Koepf, Cristina Barrios
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: On 28 July, the Malian population will go to the polls to elect a new president. This event will mark a return to the constitutional order, which ceased following a military coup on 22 March 2012. Getting Mali back on track after years of decline and months of turmoil is no easy task. This holds true for the elections per se but also, and most importantly, for the period after them as the newly elected head of state will have to lead the recovery of the country and build long-term peace.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Mali
  • Author: Maissaa Almustafa, Evan Cinq-Mars, Matthew Redding
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Since its endorsement in 2005, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has become central to how the global community responds to genocide and mass atrocities. The norm presently faces the “risk of relevance” as a result of the interventions in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire and the deadlock over the situation in Syria. The recommendations in this brief will strengthen preventive capacities, maximize the protection afforded to civilians and ensure the norm's future relevance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Genocide, Human Rights, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • Author: Bianca Selway
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: With UN peacekeeping operating in more complex environments and taking on new tasks, peacekeepers need appropriate equipment to carry out their mandates. A central aspect to equipping peacekeepers is ensuring that member states are appropriately reimbursed for their contributions under a equipment reimbursement system, called the Contingent-Owned Equipment System(COE). Every three years the United Nations conducts a meeting to negotiate the terms and conditions of the financial reimbursements paid to member states for the equipment they provide to UN peacekeeping operations. Preparations and briefings to member states are already underway in New York for the next COE Working Group meeting, to be held January 20-31, 2014. With 98,311 military and police deployed with their related equipment in seventeen missions around the world, the financial implications of these tri-annual discussions can be significant. In MONUSCO alone, the mission's annual budget for reimbursements to troop-contributing and police-contributing countries for major equipment and self-sustainment in the fiscal years 2008/09, 2009/10, and 2010/11 were $144million, $160million, and$180million, respectively.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Development, Armed Struggle, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: As part of the United States plan to begin military withdrawals from Afghanistan in 2014, the Department of Defense (DOD) contracted with the Russian state owned arms dealer, Rosoboronexport, to provide helicopters to the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF). DOD has continued and expanded its purchases from Rosoboronexport even while acknowledging that the Russian arms dealer has enabled mass atrocities by supplying Syria's Bashar al-Assad with weapons that have been used to murder Syrian civilians.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, Human Rights, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Felipe Gómez Isa
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: One of the key indicators to determine the degree of success of any given peace process is the stable participation in national politics of former members of armed groups in rebellion against the state. In the case of Colombia, the traditionally exclusive nature of its political system explains why both the enlargement of spaces for democratic participation and the political participation itself of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP) have become key issues to be discussed at the talks in Havana. It would be highly desirable for the obstacles and reticence evinced by specific political sectors to be overcome so that the current peace process can result in both the political participation of the demobilised members of the FARC-EP and greater democracy in Colombia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Bernard Haykel
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Yemen is politically fragmented by three decades of misrule. Many political actors and constituencies oppose the Salih legacy and they need to be included in any future political framework if the country is to become stable. The main regional actor is Saudi Arabia, whereas the U.S. remains the principal hegemon in the region. Saudi Arabia's policy towards Yemen is in flux, whereas the U.S. is too narrowly focused on the threat posed by al-Qaeda. Unless the U.S. and the Saudis change their policies, Yemen will not develop a strong central government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Corruption, Islam, Armed Struggle, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Mieke Eoyang, Aki Peritz
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: Despite serious, continuing concerns with the Egyptian government—including a return to authoritarianism and the president's use of anti-Semitic slurs—America should not gut its foreign aid to Cairo. Here's how to make the case against punishing the Egyptian government and in favor of continuing U.S. assistance: Egypt plays a critical role in the region and in America's security interests there. U.S. businesses get a return when we provide aid to Egypt. The bulk of our aid goes to the most stable pillar of secular Egyptian society: the military. Things could get much, much worse in Egypt—and for us.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Struggle, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, North America, Egypt
  • Author: Mieke Eoyang, Ben Freeman, Aki Peritz, Faris Alikhan
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: Our deal with Russia to destroy Syrian chemical weapons (CW) is a huge win for the United States because it will help keep those arms out of the hands of terrorists. Nevertheless, skeptics claim: We can't trust the Russians or the Syrians—despite America's history of reaching arms reduction deals with the Soviets and the Russians; We can't eliminate CW during a civil war—despite our experience with CW destruction; We will pay too much to implement this plan—even though it is far less than what we would spend on strikes. So far, the skeptics are wrong. While the destruction of Syria's CW will be a challenge, it is one that we can and should meet.
  • Topic: Civil War, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, International Security, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Faysal Itani, Sarah Grebowkski
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: To describe the increase in violence and instability in Lebanon since the civil war in Syria began as simply a spillover is misleading. it risks casting Lebanon as a victim to negative externalities divorced from its own political dysfunction. in truth, Lebanon's troubles long preceded the war in Syria, and the conflict's more complex and pernicious effect on Lebanon has been the exposure and deepening of pre-existing rifts among Lebanese.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Syrian civil war is accelerating Lebanon's political and institutional decline and poses a serious long-term threat to its economy. Lebanon has largely been spared the political upheavals of the Arab Spring, its fractious political system is intact, and the weakness of its central government means there is no authoritarian order to revolt against. However, Lebanon's own political dysfunction, the regional powers' stakes in Lebanese politics, and their anxieties over the geopolitical challenges that the Arab uprisings pose magnify the economic dangers of Syria's disintegration.
  • Topic: Economics, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 2006, during the heart of the Global War on Terrorism, a New York Times reporter went to Washington in an attempt to ascertain the extent that American officials understood the ideologies underpinning Islamist terrorism. The reporter began with a simple question: could senior counterterrorism officials identify which groups were Sunnis and which were Shi'is? Remarkably senior officials and lawmakers – including the Chief of the F.B.I.‟s national security branch, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives‟ committees on intelligence and counter terrorism – had “no clue” whether actors such as Iran, Hezbollah, or al-Qaida were Sunnis or Shi„is. A number of questions emerged from this encounter. First, who are the Sunnis and Shi„is? Second, where are they located? And, finally, does it matter?
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Somalia's growing Islamist radicalism is spilling over into Kenya. The militant Al-Shabaab movement has built a cross-border presence and a clandestine support network among Muslim populations in the north east and Nairobi and on the coast, and is trying to radicalise and recruit youth from these communities, often capitalising on long-standing grievances against the central state. This problem could grow more severe with the October 2011 decision by the Kenyan government to intervene directly in Somalia. Radicalisation is a grave threat to Kenya's security and stability. Formulating and executing sound counter-radicalisation and de-radicalisation policies before it is too late must be a priority. It would be a profound mistake, however, to view the challenge solely through a counter-terrorism lens.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In less than two months, on 9 April, Aceh will go to the polls to elect a governor and vice governor, as well as seventeen district heads and deputies. Despite rhetorical commitments on the part of all contenders to a peaceful election, the potential for isolated acts of violence between now and then is high; the potential for trouble after the results are announced may be even higher, especially if it is a close election. Getting as many trained monitors to Aceh as possible in the coming weeks is critical.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the 10 April deadline Kofi Annan (the UN and Arab League joint Special Envoy) set for implementation of his peace plan strikes , the conflict ' s dynamics have taken an ugly and worrying turn. Syrians from all walks of life appear dumbfounded by the horrific levels of violence and hatred generated by the crisis. Regime forces have subjected entire neighbourhoods to intense bombardment, purportedly to crush armed opposition groups yet with no regard for civilians. Within the largest cities, innocent lives have been lost due to massive bomb attacks in the vicinity of key security installations. Perhaps most sickening of all have been pictures displaying the massacre of whole families, including the shattered skulls of young children. The first anniversary of what began as a predominantly peaceful protest movement came and went with only scattered popular demonstrations. Instead, there was immeasurable bloodshed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, United Nations, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Les Forces démocratiques alliées-Armée nationale de libération de l'Ouganda (ADF-N alu) sont un des groupes armés les plus anciens et les moins connus de l'Est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) et le seul de cette région à être considér é comme une organisation terroriste appartenant à la nébuleuse islamiste d'Afrique de l'Est. S'ils ne constituent pas une menace déstabilisatrice comme le Mouvement du 23 mars (M23), ils tiennent cependant tête à l'armée congolaise depuis 2010. Créé en RDC en 1995 et situé aux confins montagneux de la RDC et de l'Ouganda, ce groupe armé congolo-ougandais fait preuve d'une extraordinaire résilience qui tient à sa position géostratégique, son inse rtion dans l'économie transfrontalière et la corruption de s forces de sécurité. Par con- séquent, avant d'envisager toute nouvelle intervention militaire contre les ADF-Nalu, il convient de faire la part du mythe et de la réalité et de réduire sa base socioéconomique tout en proposant une offre de démobilisation et de réinsertion à ses combattants.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Jennifer M. Keister
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A recent framework agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaves much yet to do in building peace in Mindanao, but does offer an opportunity for careful progress. Many of the problems that have plagued previous agreements in Mindanao's 40-year conflict still exist. The international community has an opportunity to support progress and avoid a repeat of previous agreements' disappointments. Careful foreign aid policies that empower locals and do not foster competition can be critical in building peace in Mindanao.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Israel, Philippines
  • Author: Julie Chernov Hwang
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The face of extremism in Indonesia has changed dramatically over the past decade. While the security threat from Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and other Salafi-Jihadist groups remains, it has diminished significantly from its heyday in the early 2000s. With many hardline leaders now in prison or dead and current mainstream leaders reluctant to support terror attacks, violence as a means to establish an Islamic state appears to be losing favor in militant circles. New followers continue to be radicalized through a number of channels, but there are also former radicals who are disengaging as they grow disillusioned with movement tactics and leadership, as they develop new relationships, and as their priorities shift. The organized, large-scale bombings have declined, largely in response to a changing security environment. Small-scale attacks and targeted assassinations are still prevalent, but these are often the actions of small splinter groups or unaffiliated individuals. Within JI itself, support for terror attacks on Indonesian soil is increasingly a minority-held view.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • Author: Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamed Salah
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: This issue brief provides a view from the Sahel on the current threats to peace and security in the region. As part of its project on peace and security in the Sahel- Sahara region, IPI's Africa Program has partnered with the Mauritania-based think tank, the Centre for Strategies for Security in the Sahel Sahara Region. The Centre 4S was established in June 2011 to help countries in the Sahel take the lead in transforming the region's daunting security and development challenges into opportunities. Originally written in French, this June 2012 research paper from the Centre 4S examines the principal threats to peace and security in the Sahel and their impact on development. It then offers proposals and recommendations for surmounting the current conflicts before presenting possible future scenarios for the region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Development, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • Author: J. Peter Pham
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram has grown increasingly virulent since late 2010, reflecting a major transformation in its capacity, tactics, and ideology. There are indications of expanding links between Boko Haram and international Islamist terrorist organizations. Support for Boko Haram among some of northern Nigeria's marginalized Muslim communities suggests that security actions alone will be insufficient to quell the instability.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Terje Østebø
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The rise of Islamic militancy in parts of the Sahel and Horn of Africa poses growing threats to regional stability. The appeal of these militants stems from their ability to tap into and persuade marginalized communities, particularly youth, that their grievances can be rectified by the establishment of a more pure Islamist culture. Despite breakthroughs, Islamic militants in Africa typically do not possess great military power and may not seek to govern at the state level. Rather, they tend to be homegrown phenomena, focused on local concerns. Islamic militant organizations in Africa generally only command the support of small minorities within Muslim communities. However, ill-considered interventions, especially those involving Western forces, can reinforce the militants' narrative, thereby strengthening their credibility and recruitment.
  • Topic: Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Africa