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  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a hybrid jihadist group with a declared goal of establishing a “lasting and expanding” caliphate. Its strategy for survival and growth blends military, political, social, and economic components. Yet the U.S.-led international intervention against it has largely been limited to air strikes. The gaps in the international coalition’s approach as well as deep sectarian divisions in Iraq and the shifting strategies of the Syrian regime and its allies are allowing the Islamic State to continue to exist and expand.
  • Topic: Civil War, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The events in Iraq over the last month have shown that any success in Iraq requires both the Iraqi government and the United States to go far beyond the war against ISIS, and makes any partisan debate over who lost Iraq as damaging to U.S. national interests as any other aspect of America’s drift toward partisan extremism. The war against ISIS is a critical U.S. national security interest. It not only threatens to create a major center of terrorism and extremism in a critical part of the Middle East, and one that could spread to threaten the flow of energy exports and the global economy, but could become a major center of international terrorism. It is important to understand, however, that ISIS is only one cause of instability in the region, and only one of the threats caused by spreading sectarian and ethnic violence.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Under certain conditions, such as security crises, an integrated external EU counter-terrorism policy can emerge without leading to the supra-nationalisation of policy-making. This paper analyses the role of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy with the objective of assessing the influence that such figure can have on the governance of EU counter-terrorism policies. It does so by assessing the EU’s response to three security crises, namely: the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent bombings in Madrid (2004) and London (2005); the Arab Spring and the following destabilisation of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA); and the emergence and spread of Da’esh.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-53-8
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America's strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line. Yemen is in the midst of a political transition process that will eventually reform and decentralize the government. But the success of the effort is by no means assured. The reforms will not, in any case, address the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions that provide fertile ground for al Qaeda. Moreover, the central state, never fully able to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country, is weaker than it was before 2011. Opposition groups, which have turned to violence in the past, may still seek to form independent states of their own, potentially collapsing the fragile Yemeni state structure entirely. American interests are bound up in this process by the fact that AQAP is among the most virulent al Qaeda affiliates that poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Syria, Iran, and other foreign and domestic policy issues are distracting the United States and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen. Without international support, the country is much less likely to ride this transition process smoothly and our security interests will be severely harmed.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The waterways of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) are among the most important in the world. They facilitate the export of large volumes of oil and natural gas from the region, while also bridging traders in the Eastern and Western worlds through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. While political tensions in the region have at times played out in these waterways since the mid-20th century, their vulnerability has been exasperated in recent years by the failure of bordering governments to promote internal stability, the lack of adequate maritime security capabilities of nearby states, and the potential naval threats posed by the government of Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, International Security, Military Strategy, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Marisa Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Hezbollah's deepening involvement in Syria is one of the most important factors of the conflict in 2013 and 2014. Since the beginning of 2013, Hezbollah fighters have operated openly and in significant numbers across the border alongside their Syrian and Iraqi counterparts. They have enabled the regime to regain control of rebel-held areas in central Syria and have improved the effectiveness of pro-regime forces. The impact of Hezbollah's involvement in Syria has been felt not just on the battlefield, where the regime now has momentum in many areas, but also in Lebanon where growing sectarian tensions have undermined security and stability.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Anbar is not the only front in Iraq on which Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), now operating as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), is fighting in 2014. ISIS has also established a governorate in Diyala. Its spokesman has named the province the central front in the sectarian conflict he has urged. The security situation and sectarian tension in Diyala province are grave. ISIS has returned to fixed fighting positions within Muqdadiyah, Baqubah, and the Diyala River Valley. Shi'a militias are now active in these areas as well. Increasing instances of population displacement demonstrate the aggregate effect of targeted violence by both groups. It is important to estimate the effects of this displacement and the presence of armed groups within Diyala's major cities in order to understand how deteriorated security conditions in this province will interfere with Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections. Furthermore, violence in Diyala has historically both driven and reflected inter-ethnic and inter-sectarian violence in other mixed areas of Iraq, including Baghdad. Diyala is therefore a significant bellwether for how quickly these types of violence will spread to other provinces.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Israeli acquiescence to de facto alterations of the 1979 peace treaty, Egypt has deployed substantial military forces into the Sinai to combat terrorists. But Israel remains hesitant about Cairo's inclination to increase pressure on Hamas in Gaza. Over the past year, Israel and Egypt have used a little-known, legally permissible understanding -- the Agreed Activities Mechanism -- to bypass restrictions on the number and type of Egyptian forces permitted in much of the Sinai. In doing so, they have made de facto modifications to their 1979 peace treaty without resorting to the diplomatically risky procedure of "reviewing" the treaty itself. As a result, considerable Egyptian army forces are now constantly deployed in central and eastern Sinai (Areas B and C of the peninsula, respectively), in a manner and scope never envisaged by the teams that negotiated the treaty more than three decades ago. Going forward, this new reality on the ground is unlikely to be reversed and is bound to have profound consequences for Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation, Cairo's ongoing counterterrorism campaign, and the fate of Hamas in the neighboring Gaza Strip.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Sinai Peninsula, Cairo
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The controversial Hariri trial will unfold amid growing sectarian violence in Lebanon, the seemingly interminable war in Syria, and a longstanding political stalemate regarding Hezbollah's role in government.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There is no guarantee that a peace deal will be reached within the current timeline, but a Palestinian return to armed struggle would be a far greater political, economic, and humanitarian disaster than any short-term frustration with the negotiations. Peace processes are rarely peaceful processes, and the current U.S.-led effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian "framework agreement" is no exception. As the tempo of negotiations between the main parties picks up speed, more radical actors have reemerged to violently oppose the process, from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Resistance Committees, to Salafi jihadist groups, to Marxist factions such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Many observers have focused on the sharp increase in rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in the past few weeks and the prospect of another Gaza war. But that issue, while crucial, has drawn media attention away from two equally troubling trends: the increase in violence across the West Bank, and new signs that some officials from the Palestinian Authority and its leading party, Fatah, may be hedging their bets and preparing for wider violence if the peace process fails.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A number of U.S. interests could be served by expanding support to strategic Gulf partners in their efforts to curb Iranian aid to local fighters. On March 6, Bahrain's foreign minister told the UN Human Rights Council that the ongoing violence in his country "is directly supported by elements of the Islamic Republic of Iran." The statement does not accurately explain all political violence in Bahrain, but not every claim of Iranian support for violence should be assumed to represent part of a government propaganda campaign. U.S. intelligence assesses that Iran is in fact providing arms and more to Bahraini and other fighters in the Arabian Peninsula, and Washington should increase support to important Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners to curb it.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, United Nations
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington has rightfully avoided backing a candidate in next week's elections, but it should still use counterterrorism assistance and other levers to push Baghdad on pluralism and KRG oil revenue sharing during the presumably lengthy transition period. On April 30, the Iraqi public will vote in national parliamentary elections, establishing the next four-year term of the 328-seat Council of Representatives. Thereafter, an equally consequential bargaining process will commence, taking the formation of the next government out of the public's hands and cloistering it behind closed doors. The United States has repeatedly prodded Baghdad to ensure that the vote is held on time, in all districts, and in a free and fair manner. Washington's role in the government formation process could be equally constructive, but it presents a far trickier challenge. Indeed, how the U.S. government acts during the postelection process could set the tone for bilateral relations throughout the next government's term.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington should look for small changes in Kuwait and Qatar's political and security calculus that could provide opportunities to support counter-terrorist financing measures there. On April 30, the U.S. State Department noted that private donations from Persian Gulf countries were "a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly...in Syria," calling the problem one of the most important counterterrorism issues during the previous calendar year. Groups such as al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), previously known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, are believed to be frequent recipients of some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that wealthy citizens and others in the Gulf peninsula have been donating during the Syrian conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Syria, Qatar
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The longer the war in Syria continues, the greater the threat these fighters will likely pose. Last week, ten Jordanian Islamists who were apprehended while attempting to join the jihad in Syria were sentenced by the State Security Court to five years of hard labor. And last month, Jordanian F-16 fighter jets destroyed a convoy purportedly carrying al-Qaeda-affiliated anti-Assad-regime rebels traversing the border from Syria. These "spillover" incidents are only the latest in a disturbing trend. Over the past year, reports of Jordanian Salafi jihadists have become routine, raising the specter of terrorism returning to the kingdom.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Jordan
  • Author: Ehud Yaari, Michael Morell
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A CIA veteran and an Israeli security expert discuss the growing presence of al-Qaeda affiliates in Sinai and Syria.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Security crackdowns will not be enough to eradicate jihadist networks in Tunisia and Libya, which have the patience and ideological conviction to weather drastic reorganization. Eight months ago, the Tunisian government officially designated Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST) as a terrorist organization. Since then, Tunis has cracked down on the group's activities, going after both its dawa campaign (i.e., proselytization and social-welfare efforts) and any links members have to terrorist plots. On the whole, AST's public response has been to keep relatively quiet. Yet recent developments indicate that the group may be rebranding itself as Shabab al-Tawhid (ST; the Youth of Pure Monotheism), a shift that would have important implications for efforts to counter Tunisian jihadists and their associates in Libya.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Tunisia
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recent developments indicate a credible, previously unseen rebel threat to Damascus. While rebel militias have lately suffered serious setbacks in central and northern Syria, they are now recording significant successes in the south -- the region lying between Damascus and the Israeli and Jordanian borders. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's loyalists are on the defensive on all related fronts, risking the loss of this strategically important sector. It is becoming increasingly evident that a rebel push toward the capital from the south may be more promising militarily than an offensive from the so-far-stalemated front lines north of Damascus. The next few weeks may witness further major rebel gains on the southern front, which may ultimately pose the main threat to Assad's control.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Mohamed Salah Tamek
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Morocco has had a largely successful record of countering violent extremism within its borders, including the dismantling of numerous cells linked to al-Qaeda core or its North African offshoot, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Thousands of suspects have been arrested for perpetrating assassinations, assaults, and robberies; huge caches of heavy weapons have been confiscated; and authorities have foiled many attempts to attack security services, tourist attractions, diplomatic delegations, and places of worship for Christians and Jews. In addition, two channels of recruitment for jihadists in Mali were dismantled in late 2012, and two months ago, Moroccan and Spanish security forces jointly dismantled a transnational cell recruiting fighters for Syria and Mali.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Syria, Morocco, Northern Mali
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Bahraini government will need to distinguish better between protestors and terrorists if it wants Washington and other foreign partners to believe its claims of Iranian support for local militants. On May 5, in what has become an increasingly typical event in Bahrain, several individuals threw Molotov cocktails at a police post in a Shiite village, damaging storefronts but causing no casualties. Such incidents have intensified over the past few months in villages surrounding the capital, Manama -- in March, three police officers were killed by a bombing in al-Daih; last month, an explosion wounded another officer in the same village; days later, a police car was firebombed in Hamad Town.
  • Topic: International Relations, Political Violence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East, Bahrain
  • Author: Azeem Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Syrian civil war has allowed al-Qaeda to recover from its setbacks up to 2010. Its main affiliate in the region seems to be testing a new strategy of collaboration with other Salafist-Jihadist groups and a less brutal implementation of Sharia law in areas it controls. In combination, this might allow the Al Nusrah Front to carve out the sort of territorial control of a region (or state) that al-Qaeda has sought ever since its eviction from Afghanistan. On the other hand, Syria has also seen a civil war between two al-Qaeda inspired factions (Al Nusrah and the Iraq based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS]) and indicates there are limits to its ability to cooperate with other anti-Assad factions and gain popular appeal. The extent that the Syrian civil war offers the means for al-Qaeda to recover from its earlier defeats will determine whether the organization has a future, or if it will become simply an ideology and label adopted by various Islamist movements fighting their own separate struggles.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Nawaf Obaid
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This proposal for a Saudi Arabian Defense Doctrine (SDD) hopes to initiate an essential internal reform effort that responds to the shifting demands of today and the potential threats of tomorrow. In the last decade, the world has watched as regime changes, revolutions, and sectarian strife transformed the Middle East into an unrecognizable political arena plagued by instability, inefficiency, and failing states. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)—the Arab world's central power and last remaining major Arab heavyweight on the international scene—has emerged as the ipso facto leader responsible for regional stability and development.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As extremists continue to move into southern Syria, growing security and humanitarian problems may soon outstrip Jordan's ability to handle spillover from the war.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Phillip Smyth
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Afghan Shiite militants have been fighting on the Assad regime's side for some time, and the scope and strategic purpose of Iran's involvement is becoming increasingly clear.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mathew J. Burrows
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With new crises sprouting almost on a daily basis in the Middle East, there is increasing interest in knowing the possible medium- and long-term consequences of the cascading developments in the region. This report attempts to think about the alternative futures possible in the Middle East over the next five to ten years. This is a shorter-term forecast than usual, but in the Middle East more deep-seated and structural factors are in flux than in most other regions. A longer-term forecast would allow for more optimism, but would be less useful for decision-makers who not only need a bird's eye view of where developments are headed but also a notion of the pressure points to effect positive change now.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Sven Biscop
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Russia's annexation of the Crimea and subsequent meddling in Ukraine does not constitute a game-changer. It is just a reminder that at least since the war with Georgia in 2008 Russia has been and still is playing the same game: a "game of zones",aimed at (re)establishing an exclusive sphere of influence. Many of us Europeans had forgotten that, or had pushed it to the back of our minds, preferring to believe that we were not engaged in a zero-sum game in our eastern neighbourhood.
  • Topic: Security, Sovereignty, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammed El-Katiri
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As part of the radical political changes that have affected a number of Arab countries over the past 4 years, the toppling of regimes and the organization of the first fair and free elections in several Arab states have allowed Islamist parties to rise to power. This highly visible political trend has caused mixed reactions, both within these countries and internationally. Prior to the Arab Spring, most countries in the region banned Islamist movements from forming political parties. For decades, members of such movements were jailed, tortured, and exiled from their home countries. Even in those states where Islamist political parties were allowed, they had limited freedom and were under the scrutiny of the regimes, as was, for example, the Moroccan Justice and Development Party.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Jean-loup Samaan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: For 7 years now, the border area between Israel and Lebanon has witnessed calm and stability. At first sight, this has all the appearances of a paradox. The 2006 war between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Lebanese organization, Hezbollah, was followed neither by a peace agreement nor by a mere diplomatic process. Both sides prepared their forces to wage the next war and additionally have been confronted in past years to major changes in the distribution of power in the Middle East in the midst of the so-called “Arab Spring.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Richard Barrett
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The self-styled Islamic State is an accident of history, emerging from multiple social, political and economic tensions in the Middle East and beyond. It has challenged the territorial divisions imposed on the region following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire by carving out for itself a large area of territory. But ultimately, its impact will flow as much from its challenge to established concepts of government, national sovereignty, and national identity. The Islamic State is most notable for the violence with which it asserts control, but its ruthless tactics will likely prevent the group from ruling effectively and building broader support beyond the front line fighters who protect its security and the authoritarian killers who patrol its streets.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Micah Zenko
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, the use of unmanned aerial systems—commonly referred to as drones—by the U.S. government has expanded exponentially in scope, location, and frequency. From September 2001 to April 2012, the U.S. military increased its drone inventory from fifty to seventy-five hundred—of which approximately 5 percent can be armed. Yet despite the unprecedented escalation of its fleet and missions, the U.S. government has not provided a clear explanation of how drone strikes in nonbattlefield settings are coordinated with broader foreign policy objectives, the scope of legitimate targets, and the legal framework. Drones are critical counterterrorism tools that advance U.S. interests around the globe, but this lack of transparency threatens to limit U.S. freedom of action and risks proliferation of armed drone technology without the requisite normative framework.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US faces major challenges in dealing with Iran, the threat of terrorism, and the tide of political instability in the Arabian Peninsula. The presence of some of the world's largest reserves of oil and natural gas, vital shipping lanes, and Shia populations throughout the region have made the peninsula the focal point of US and Iranian strategic competition. Moreover, large youth populations, high unemployment rates, and political systems with highly centralized power bases have posed other economic, political, and security challenges that the GCC states must address, and which the US must take into consideration when forming strategy and policy. An updated study by the CSIS Burke Chair explores US and Iranian interests in the region, Gulf state and GCC policies toward both the US and Iran, and potential flash-points and vulnerabilities in the Gulf to enhanced competition with Iran. This study examines the growing US security partnership with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – established as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It analyzes the steady growth in this partnership that has led to over $64 billion in new US arms transfer agreements during 2008-2011. It also examines the strengths and weaknesses of the security cooperation between the southern Gulf states, and their relative level of political, social, and economic stability. The study focuses on the need for enhanced unity and security cooperation between the individual Gulf states. It finds that such progress is critical if they are to provide effective deterrence and defense against Iran, improve their counterterrorism capabilities, and enhance other aspects of their internal security.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Oil, Terrorism, Natural Resources, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Negotiations underway since late 2012 between Turkey's government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are stalling. A ceasefire announced on 23 March 2013 remains precarious, as maximalist rhetoric gains renewed traction on both sides. While the PKK should be doing more to persuade Ankara that it wants a compromise peace, the government has a critical responsibility to fully address the longstanding democratic grievances of Turkey's Kurds. One reason it frequently gives for its hesitation is fear of a nationalist backlash. In fact, the peace process has already demonstrated how willing mainstream Turks would be to accept steps towards democratisation. A much bigger risk for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as it heads into a two-year cycle of local, presidential and parliamentary elections, would be if the three-decade-old conflict plunges into a new cycle of violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Peace Studies, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: More than a decade into the “war on terrorism,” much of the political debate in the US is still fixated on the legacy of 9/11. US politics has a partisan fixation on Benghazi, the Boston Marathon bombing, intelligence intercepts, and Guantanamo. Far too much US attention still focuses on “terrorism” at a time the US faces a much broader range of threats from the instability in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) and Islamic world. Moreover, much of the US debate ignores the fact that the US has not actually fought a “war on terrorism” over the last decade, and the US failures in using military force and civil aid in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US has not fought wars as such, but rather became involved in exercises in armed nation building where stability operations escalated into national building as a result of US occupation and where the failures in stability operations and nation building led to insurgencies that forced the US into major counterinsurgency campaigns that had little to do with counterterrorism. An analysis of the trends in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts shows that the US has not been fighting a war on terrorism since Bin Laden and Al Qaida Central were driven into Pakistan in December 2001. The US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and then made stability operations and armed nation building its key goals. It was US mishandling of these exercises in armed nation building that led to major counterinsurgency campaigns although – at least in the case of Afghanistan --the US continued to label its military operations as a struggle against “terrorism.” By 2013, the US had committed well over $1.4 trillion to these exercises in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the US made massive increases in its domestic spending on homeland defense that it rationalized as part of the fight against terrorism but often had little or nothing to do with any aspect of counterterrorism. At the same time, the US failed to develop consistent or useful unclassified statistics on the patterns in terrorism and its counterterrorism activities. The US government has never provided a meaningful break out of federal activities and spending at home or abroad which actually focus on terrorism, or any unclassified measures of effectiveness. The OMB has lumped a wide range of activities that have no relation to terrorism it its reporting on the President's budget request – activities whose total cost now approach $60 billion a year. The Department of Defense has never provided a meaningful estimate of the total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or a break out of the small portion of total overseas contingency operations (OCO) spending actually spent on counterterrorism versus counter insurgency. The State Department and US intelligence community provide no meaningful unclassified data on the cost of their counterterrorism effort and it is unclear that they have developed any metrics at any level that show the cost-benefits of their activities. The annual US State Department country reports on terrorism come as close to an unclassified report on the status of terrorism as the US government provides. While many portions are useful, the designation of terrorist movements is often political and shows the US designation of terrorist movements conflates terrorism and insurgency. The closest the US has come to developing any metrics on terrorism has been to develop an unclassified database in the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) that never distinguished terrorism from insurgency. This database formed the core of the statistical annex to State Department reporting, but has since been withdrawn without explanation. As this analysis shows in detail, it now has been replaced by a contractor effort that makes all of the previous mistakes made by the NCTC. The end result is a set of official reporting and statistics in the annex to the State Department report where “terrorism” remains remained poorly defined, badly structured, ignored in parts of the world, and conflates terrorism with counterinsurgency, instability, and civil war. A review of the Afghan, Iraq conflicts, and other recent conflicts in the MENA region shows just how serious these problems are in distorting the true nature of the wars the US is fighting and the threats it faces. The same is true of the unclassified reporting the US government provides on terrorism. A detailed review of the most recent State Department report on terrorism provides important insights into key terrorist movements, but the narratives generally ignore their ties to insurgent movements, their statistical data include some major insurgent movements and exclude others, and many of the data seem to include violence that is not truly terroristic in character.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The question of Sunni Arab participation in Iraq's political order that has plagued the transition since its inception is as acute and explosive as ever. Quickly marginalised by an ethno-sectarian apportionment that confined them to minority status in a system dominated by Shiites and Kurds, most community members first shunned the new dispensation then fought it. Having gradually turned from insurgency to tentative political involvement, their wager produced only nominal representation, while reinforcing feelings of injustice and discrimination. Today, with frustration at a boil, unprecedented Sunni-Shiite polarisation in the region and deadly car bombings surging across the country since the start of Ramadan in July, a revived sectarian civil war is a serious risk. To avoid it, the government should negotiate local ceasefires with Sunni officials, find ways to more fairly integrate Sunni Arabs in the political process and cooperate with local actors to build an effective security regime along the Syrian border.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Political Economy, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Frédéric Mérand, Nicola Contessi, Jérémie Cornut, Dominika Kunertova
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales
  • Abstract: Over the next 20 years, the empowerment of individuals and new information and communication technology will reverberate in the security field with implications such as the growth of cyber-terrorism and the spread of nuclear technology to non-state actors. Power will be diffused among states and from states to informal networks, leading to a less Western-centric globalization. Demographic patterns and a growing demand for resources will have adverse consequences on defence spending and energy security. Among Euro-Atlantic states, there is broad agreement on the nature of future threats: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, regional conflicts, and cyber attacks. Russia is alone in identifying a Europe-specific phenomenon, the expansion of NATO to the East, as one of the main external military threats to its national security. While no major new conflict is predicted to arise in the Euro-Atlantic area, there will be no shortage of crises originating from outside this area, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa, requiring a response from Euro-Atlantic organizations. In the Euro-Atlantic area, it is expected that Russia will reclaim its traditional sphere of influence by intensifying efforts to strengthen regional organizations, sometimes in cooperation with China or smaller states. The Arctic may become one of the new geostrategic hotspots. A relatively cohesive club, NATO remains the most successful military alliance in contemporary history. As an inclusive, regional, and crosscutting organization, the OSCE is less central to key Canadian interests, but it provides a fairly low-cost means to establish a diplomatic foothold and contribute to building a security community in Eurasia. While NATO and the OSCE are expected to remain the pillars of the Euro-Atlantic order, one important question that underlies this report is why Euro-Atlantic-based organizations are necessary to deal with global risks. NATO's civil-military focus is likely to become more central as future multinational interventions place increasing demands on NATO capabilities. Predictions for the OSCE are more difficult to make given its protracted impasse, but the need for confidence building among disagreeing powers remains present. While Canada should not reconsider its membership in these organizations, it should support planned reforms and initiatives that will make them more relevant. Both NATO and the OSCE are moving in the right directions by taking seriously transnational, including cyber-threats. Applying lessons learned, they are likely to continue to improve coordination of civilian and military capabilities to address new risks. Energy security is also likely to move up the agenda of both organizations. To address the shift in global power, and in particular the renewed assurance of Russia, the OSCE must renew its original focus on confidence building, including through multi-track initiatives. Eschewing enlargement for the time being, NATO would be well-advised to nurture its relationship both with Russia and with new partners through political and technical cooperation. In times of austerity, both organizations will have to do more with less. Administrative reforms such as results-based management should be encouraged. At NATO, Smart Defence provides interesting opportunities for Canada to streamline defence procurement and optimize capabilities.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Canada, North Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai, Daniel Dewit
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The last active US combat forces left Iraq in August 2010, marking the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn. Some 49,000 advisory troops, four advisor assistance brigades, and a limited number of special operations forces (SOF) remained to train, advise, and assist Iraq's security forces after that date, including the military, intelligence, and police. Until the end, these US troops continued to serve a number of other important security functions: carrying out kinetic operations against Iranian-backed and other militant groups; providing training to the ISF; taking part in joint patrols along the borders of the Kurdish provinces and helping integrate ISF and Kurdish forces; and acting as a deterrent to Iraq's neighbors–in particular Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Ahmed Ali, Kimberly Kagan, Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Escalating violence in Iraq crossed a new and very dangerous threshold this week. Al Qaeda in Iraq launched a concentrated wave of car-bomb and other attacks specifically against civilian Shi'a targets in and around Baghdad. Shi'a militias are mobilizing and have begun a round of sectarian killings facilitated by false checkpoints, a technique characteristic of the 2006-2007 period. Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki has taken a number of steps to demonstrate that he remains in control of the situation. The expansion of Shi'a militia activity, however, is likely to persuade many Iraqis that he is either not in control or is actively abetting the killings. The re-mobilization of Shi'a militias in Iraq coincides with the formal announcement by Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah of his organization's active military participation in the Syrian civil war. Al Qaeda in Iraq's sectarian mass-murder attacks coincide with the announcement by AQI's affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra, that attacking Hezbollah is that group's primary target henceforth. The stage appears to be set not merely for the collapse of the Iraqi state into the kind of vicious sectarian killing and sectarian cleansing that nearly destroyed it in 2006 and 2007, but also for the expansion of that sectarian warfare throughout both Mesopotamia and the Levant.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) announced "The Soldiers' Harvest," a new campaign on July 29, 2013, immediately after the Abu Ghraib prison attack. AQI then declared that event the conclusion of the "Breaking the Walls" campaign, which apparently achieved its goals: to stoke sectarian violence by targeting Shi'a communities; and to reconstitute the veteran AQI fighting force by breaking former members out of Iraq's prisons. ISW has assessed that AQI has reconstituted as a professional military force. It is therefore crucial to examine the first 60 days of the new "Soldiers' Harvest" campaign for indications of what AQI means to accomplish this year. Initial indications suggest that AQI will seek to establish control of key terrain in Iraq while targeting any Sunnis who work for the government. The campaign name, "The Soldiers' Harvest," refers in particular to the intimidation and displacement of the Iraqi Security Forces, especially through the destruction of their homes.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence, Prisons/Penal Systems
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Marina Ottaway, Danial Kaysi
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocratic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements. Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, War, Fragile/Failed State, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Austin Long
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: War is fundamentally a clash of organizations. Organizations provide the vital mechanisms that mobilize and convert resources into combat power as well as applying that combat power against the enemy. This is true not only of conventional militaries, but also of insurgent and terrorist groups. Organizational capacity is thus a crucial determinant of success in conflict. Stephen Biddle, for example, attributes heavy causal weight for success in modern conventional military conflict to the relative capacity of military organizations to employ a set of techniques he terms “the modern system.” Philip Selznick argues that organization is equally crucial for success in political combat, where subversion of other organizations is as important as brute force.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Joseph Holliday
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The rebels will have to rely on external lines of supply to replenish their arms and ammunition if they are to continue eroding the regime's control. The emergence of al-Qaeda-linked terrorist cells working against the regime poses risks to the United States and a challenge to those calling for material support of the armed opposition. As the militias continue to face overwhelming regime firepower the likelihood of their radicalization may increase. Moreover, the indigenous rebels may turn to al-Qaeda for high-end weaponry and spectacular tactics as the regime's escalation leaves the rebels with no proportionate response, as occurred in Iraq in 2005-2006. Developing relations with armed opposition leaders and recognizing specific rebel organizations may help to deter this dangerous trend. It is imperative that the United States distinguish between the expatriate political opposition and the armed opposition against the Assad regime on the ground in Syria. American objectives in Syria are to hasten the fall of the Assad regime; to contain the regional spillover generated by the ongoing conflict; and to gain influence over the state and armed forces that emerge in Assad's wake. Therefore, the United States must consider developing relations with critical elements of Syria's armed opposition movement in order to achieve shared objectives, and to manage the consequences should the Assad regime fall or the conflict protract.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, United States, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Germany, Syria
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the political, religious, and military resurgence of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces, identifying the group's key actors, their present disposition and strategy, and their regional expansion. AAH is an Iranian-backed Shi'a militant group that split from Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) in 2006. Since that time, AAH has conducted thousands of lethal explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, targeted kidnappings of Westerners, rocket and mortar attacks on the U.S. Embassy, the murder of American soldiers, and the assassination of Iraqi officials.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: On Sunday, Iraqs Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was sentenced to death by hanging after he and his son-in-law were convicted of organizing the murders of a security official and a lawyer. All told, Hashemi is subject to more than 150 charges of terrorism based upon allegations that he used death squads to target his political opponents. The verdict carries distressing implications for short-term domestic security in Iraq and for diplomatic relations with neighboring Turkey, where Hashemi currently resides and has been based since his trial began. While some observers view the case against Hashemi in purely sectarian terms, the targeting of a Sunni politician in a Shiite-led state, the sentence in fact highlights the pernicious nature of personal rivalries within Iraqi politics. Further, it demonstrates the politicization of the Iraqi judicial system under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has commandeered Iraq's legal institutions in order to consolidate power around his inner circle.
  • Topic: Democratization, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq in December 2011, the rate and lethality of attacks against civilian targets have steadily risen. Most notably, there have been seven major attack waves, defined here as a series of simultaneous and coordinated attacks that target at least 10 cities within one day. The attacks targeted a combination of security posts, government facilities, and Shi'ite shrines and neighborhoods. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella organization formed in 2006 for many Sunni insurgency groups including al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), has claimed credit for a large majority of these attacks.3 This summer has seen a further alarming development with the announcement of ISI's "Destroying the Walls" campaign.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Clint Watts
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The attacks of September 11, 2001 spawned a decade of al Qaeda inspired radicalization of disaffected Middle Eastern and North African youth and a handful of young Western men. Ten years later, foreign fighters to Afghanistan, Iraq and other jihadi battlefields appear to be declining while in contrast analysts have pointed to an uptick in United States (U.S.) based “homegrown extremism” - terrorism advocated or committed by U.S. residents or citizens.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The recent Israel-Hamas escalation returns a spotlight to Gaza and the Islamist movement's relationship with more militant organisations. Gaza arouses multiple concerns: does Hamas seeks to impose religious law; has its purported Islamisation stimulated growth of Salafi-Jihadi groups; and will al-Qaeda offshoots find a foothold there? Hamas faces competition from more radical Islamist groups, though their numbers are few, organisation poor, achievements against Israel so far minor and chances of threatening Gaza's government slight. The significance of Gaza's Salafi-Jihadis is less military capability than constraints they impose on Hamas: they are an ideological challenge; they appeal to members of its military wing, a powerful constituency; through attacks within and from Gaza, they threaten security; by criticising Hamas for not fighting Israel or implementing Sharia, they exert pressure for more militancy and Islamisation. The policy of isolating Gaza and ignoring Hamas exacerbates this problem. As the international community seeks new ways to address political Islam in the Arab upheaval's wake, Gaza is not the worst place to start.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Martin Harrow
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Video-recorded decapitations have an enormous impact, they are cheap and easy, and they allow the terrorists to exploit the potential of the Internet. With these advantages, the tactic would have been expected to quickly spread across the globe as a favored tactic. Yet, years after its invention in 2002, this has not happened. This paper using evolutionary theory finds that video-recorded decapitations have not caught on for locally specific reasons: in the West because the tactic is less accessible than one might expect; in Iraq because of the unwillingness to be associated with Zarqawi, and in the Afghan context, it has not spread because it is mainly relevant for mobilizing resources from abroad, which is not a priority for the Taliban. These are however situational variables, and just as suicide bombings took years to spread, there may be campaigns of video-recorded decapitations as conditions change.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East, Taliban
  • Author: Andre Le Sage
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The United States faces an important strategic question in northwest Africa: what level of activity by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) would constitute a sufficient threat to U.S. national security interests to warrant a more aggressive political, intelligence, military, and law enforcement response? AQIM already poses the greatest immediate threat of transnational terrorism in the region, and its operational range and sophistication continue to expand. Since 2007, the group has professed its loyalty to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's senior leadership and claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in the subregion. These attacks have included the use of suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices, kidnapping operations, and assassinations.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Gabriel Koehler-Derrick (editor)
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Events in Yemen are moving at a rapid pace. Economic, environmental and political crises that have long limited Yemen's attempts at developing a strong centralized state now threaten to overwhelm the country. Protest movements similar to those that pushed out autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt have plunged Yemen into deeper instability, and multiple competing factions are currently fighting for control of the government. Reports of rising Islamist militancy and a stream of terror attacks by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have raised fears that soon large parts of the country may be overrun by jihadists intent on striking the United State.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Katherine Didow, Jinnyn Jacob
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In January 2011, protests started in Tunisia and Egypt, sparking a string of uprisings in the Muslim world, with consequences yet unknown. These monumental shifts caught many politicians, academics, journalists and pollsters by surprise. As world leaders scramble to formulate policy to confront these new realities, there is an urgent need for accurate and relevant public opinion data on the Muslim world.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Leila Stockmarr
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The emergence of new Islamist groups challenging Hamas from within is demarcating a new tendency towards inter-Islamist rivalry in Gaza. Based on original empirical data this report maps the Islamist milieu in Gaza. It offers a critical examination of how Hamas has governed Gaza since 2007 and why new Islamist groups in Gaza have emerged. The report argues that the phenomenon of new Islamists is diffuse and intangible. It does, however, relate to the question of the ideological price of governing in Palestine, and the repercussions of Hamas' rule and external policies upon the Islamist milieu in Gaza where, for the first time, an Islamist political body is in power. Two major aspects are motivating the emergence of new Islamist agendas: people's ideological grievances towards those in power and the instrumentalisation of ideology and religion in the midst of a power struggle between an increasingly authoritarian political body and its dissidents and challengers. In the face of governments which are failing to deliver, non-organised religious activity has become political power in Gaza.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: The SIPRI Middle East Expert Group met four times over an 18-month period to consider how a regional security regime might be developed. The principal points of this report are:Further progress in the Middle East peace process would create a suitable political climate for consideration of a regional security regime.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Peace Studies, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Thomas Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: This paper traces and assesses al-Qa'ida''s efforts to launch an insurgency in Saudi Arabia from the mid-1990s until today. It examines the background of Usama bin Ladin's 1996 declaration of jihad, al-Qa'ida's activities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1996 to 2002, and the causes and evolution of the campaign waged by the group “al-Qa'ida on the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP) from 2003 to 2006.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Sinai Peninsula
  • Author: Lisa Wedeen
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The issue of state fragility and the presence of radical religious movements in Yemen have occasioned misperceptions and confusions in recent debates about the country. This report argues that the language of “failed states” arises nearly exclusively in relation to countries deemed threatening to US security interests. Moreover, this language obscures rather than reveals how regime incentives to build state institutions can be incompatible with regime interests in survival. The result is that a seemingly neutral analytical category misrepresents local realities even while it is used as a warrant for policy initiatives that are likely to be counterproductive.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Ahmed Abdelkareem Saif
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Yemen's problems have frequently been ascribed to neocolonialism, regional politics and domestic power struggles. Though these factors are contributory, they are only the tip of the iceberg. The real problems are endemic and deeply rooted in the nature of society and the evolution of the state. Although modern political institutions exist in Yemen, such as a supreme court, parliament, political parties, trade unions and a free press, these institutions do not necessarily operate as might be expected. In fact, what exists in Yemen is merely a despotic authority, where decision-making usually takes place outside the formal institutions. The weakness of the state limits its capacity to penetrate society, creating a void that has been filled by intermediaries who benefit from the regime's durability. These intermediaries also play a crucial role in the survival of the regime by controlling the peripheries.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Sarah Grebowski, Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recognition by Egypt's leading Jihadists that violence has failed to achieve political change and in fact has been counterproductive has led them to a remarkable change of course.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Sarah Phillips
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: News that the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S. passenger jet was tied to al-Qaeda elements in Yemen prompted questions of whether the fractious Arab state might give rise to a Taliban-style regime. For its part, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has stated its intent to achieve “our great Islamic project: establishing an Islamic Caliphate” but it is vulnerable to the threat that Yemen's tribes may ultimately find its presence a liability.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Taliban, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Irfan Shahid
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: The tragic events of Black September, 2001, the year that opened the twenty-first century and the third millennium, more popularly called 9/11, is now a landmark in American history that is deeply carved in the psyche of the American people and is annually perpetuated by commemorative anniversaries. It practically destroyed the bridges that had been constructed between America and the Arab-Muslim world. What had been America's main adversary in the Cold War, namely Communism, has now become the Arabs and the Islamic world, which, ironically, had been America's allies against Communism.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It is far easier to talk about international cooperation in fighting terrorism than it is to achieve it. The world has made real progress in recent years – at both the formal and informal levels. At the same time, national differences still pose serious limits to what can be achieved and the threat is changing. Even if one only focuses on the “greater Middle East,” the threat now involves far more than terrorism per se and non-state actors. Cooperation in counter terrorism must deal with these changes and with the fact that there are no clear boundaries between terrorism and insurgency, and that terrorism is only a symptom of a far broader ideological struggle.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Lars Erslev Andersen
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Following the July 2005 London terrorist attacks the focus of anti-terrorism efforts has moved towards radicalisation within European societies and away from the conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia. This report argues that this shift in focus is based on a misconstrual of al-Qaida as it mistakes effect for cause. Based on an examination of the communication strategy of al-Qaida and the political rhetoric of Salafism the need for an analysis of militant Salafism in its political and societal context is demonstrated. The radicalisation theory is criticised and it is argued that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the increased focus on efforts to counter radicalisation within European societies more or less have failed because al-Qaida has been able to exploit this strategy and reorganise itself around an operational centre in Pakistan. The report concludes that only politically viable solutions in South Asia and the Middle East can effectively suppress al-Qaida and militant Salafism.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Mass Media, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Europe, South Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Carolin Goerzig
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the clear necessity of an inclusive approach that involves all relevant actors, the Middle East Quartet (comprising the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia) has made political and financial cooperation with the Palestinian Authority dependent on the recognition of the three Quartet principles — the recognition of Israel, the renunciation of violence and adherence to previous diplomatic agreements — in exchange for the recognition of a Palestinian government. But instead of compelling Hamas to consider compliance, the Quartet principles have in fact led the group to become more entrenched in its defiant stance. There is a fundamental problem with the three Quartet conditions. While decision-makers proclaim that the three principles come as a package and are inseparable, it is precisely the fact that they are so interlocked and that Hamas is required to comply with them simultaneously that makes compliance problematic. This is the case because the three principles are mutually constraining to such an extent that complying with one principle effectively prevents Hamas from complying with another. Originally, the three Quartet principles were intended as a basis or a framework for a potential peace process. They define the conditions a negotiating partner has to fulfil in order to take part in Middle East peace talks. In reality, however, they have acted as an impediment. This paper seeks to find a way of overcoming the constraints that the EU has imposed upon itself by insisting on simultaneous adherence to the three Quartet principles. It looks at what room for manoeuvre there remains for the EU within the framework of the Quartet conditions and at how they can be modified in such a way that they facilitate rather than obstruct compliance.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Politics, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: on June 20, 2010, following concerted international pressure, the Government of Israel announced a set of measures to 'ease' its illegal blockade of the Gaza strip. This included: publishing a list of items not permitted into Gaza and allowing all other items to enter; expanding and accelerating the inflow of construction materials for international projects; expanding operations at the crossings and opening more crossings as more processing capacity becomes necessary and security conditions allow; streamlining entry/exit permits for medical and humanitarian reasons and for aid workers; Facilitating the movement of people in additional ways as conditions and security allow.
  • Topic: Government, Imperialism, Terrorism, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Yemen's Committee for Religious Dialogue was established in September 2002. It was an innovative and timely step undertaken by the Yemeni Government towards terrorist rehabilitation. This report seeks to document the lessons learnt from the ICPVTR delegation's visit to Yemen from 17 to 21 July 2010. The visit sought to get an in-depth understanding of the rehabilitation efforts by the Religious Dialogue Committee that was founded by the Minister of Endowment and Guidance of Yemen, Judge Hamoud Al-Hitar. In addition, the visit also aimed at understanding the role of other Yemeni agencies in their efforts to combating terrorism.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Bryan Groves
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Military Academy, Department of Social Science
  • Abstract: The lead up to the Iraq War and its conduct has highlighted significant differences in traditional perspectives, capabilities, and methods. While terrorism has been America's central fixation since 9/11, Europe still sees terrorism as one of several important threats today, with proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, failed states, regional conflicts, and organized crime among other top tier threats. The U.S. possesses a comparative advantage in intelligence gathering and kinetic strike cabability. This military strength has enabled the U.S. to favor it as its top tool in waging its global war on terrorism (GWOT). On the other hand, Europe's tendency toward employment of troops for nation-building and peacekeeping missions is in line with its strengths and its preferences. Europe countries also favour an extensive consensus building period of diplomatic maneuvering to establish a widely accepted multilateral response to threats, America under the current administration, however, has insisted on remaining.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The vast Palestinian refugee population is routinely forgotten and ignored in much of the Middle East. Not so in Lebanon. Unlike in other host countries, the refugee question remains at the heart of politics, a recurrent source of passionate debate and occasional trigger of violence. The Palestinian presence was a catalyst of the 1975-1990 civil war, Israel's 1982 invasion and Syrian efforts to bring the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to heel. Virtually nothing has been done since to genuinely address the problem. Marginalised, deprived of basic political and economic rights, trapped in the camps, bereft of realistic prospects, heavily armed and standing atop multiple fault lines–inter-Lebanese, inter-Palestinian and inter-Arab–the refugee population constitutes a time bomb. Until the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved, a comprehensive approach is required that clarifies the Palestinians' status, formally excludes their permanent settlement in Lebanon, significantly improves their living conditions and, through better Lebanese-Palestinian and inter-Palestinian coordination, enhances camp management.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Post Colonialism, Sovereignty, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Daniel B. Prieto
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Political leaders, lawyers, and scholars have long grappled with questions of how to protect fundamental freedoms in times of national crisis. Supreme Court chief justice William Rehnquist observed that “the government's authority to engage in conduct that infringes civil liberty is greatest in time of declared war.” This observation is highly relevant in today's national security context. In an environment shaped by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, securing the U.S. homeland from fur the attacks and confronting terrorist networks abroad are central priorities of U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Yet the transformation of the U.S. security apparatus after 9/11 and a range of new national security programs have generated widespread concern over the protection of international human rights, democratic norms, and a number of rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution that form, collectively, the civil liberties of the American people.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism, Torture
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East
  • Author: Brian Fishman
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Al-Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI) is a shadow of its former self, primarily because broad sectors of Iraq's Sunni population rejected it after more than three years of active and tacit cooperation. Anger over AQI's brutal radicalism infused the Sunni backlash against jihadists, but AQI also made two fundamental strategic overreaches that exacerbated its alienation from Sunnis in Iraq. First, it incited a sectarian backlash from Iraqi Shi'a without the means to defend Iraq's Sunnis from the onslaught it provoked. Second, AQI created a formal political entity, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), to dominate Iraq after a U.S. withdrawal without adequate support from Iraq's Sunni population.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Away from media headlines, a war has been raging on and off in Yemen's northern governorate of Saada since 2004, flaring up in adjacent regions and, in 2008, reaching the outskirts of the capital, Sanaa. The conflict, which has brought about extensive destruction, pits a rebel group, known generically as the Huthis, against government forces. Today's truce is fragile and risks being short-lived. A breakdown would threaten Yemen's stability, already under severe duress due to the global economic meltdown, depleting national resources, renewed tensions between the country's northern elites and populations in the south and the threat from violent groups with varied links to al-Qaeda. Nor would the impact necessarily be contained within national borders. The country should use its traditional instruments-social and religious tolerance, cooptation of adversaries-to forge a more inclusive compact that reduces sectarian stigmatisation and absorbs the Huthis. International actors-principally Gulf States and the West-should use their leverage and the promise of reconstruction assistance to press both government and rebels to compromise.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Hassan Mneimneh
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: September 11, 2001, marked the coming to the fore of the “jihadist international,” a loosely connected movement of militant and terrorist groups worldwide with a common ideology and increasingly shared tactics and methods. While such groups still have limited recruitment potential eight years on, they have inflicted substantial physical damage and have forced free societies to take costly precautionary measures. Perhaps most alarming, the global jihadist movement has continued simultaneously to feed off of and perpetuate the growing radicalization that Muslim culture has endured over the last few decades.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Rune Friberg Lyme
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Managing external communication has proven an increasingly significant concern to Lebanese Hizb'allah. This report argues that the organisation has developed a highly sophisticated communication strategy that enables it to address a variety of target groups efficiently with differentiated aspects of its particular ideologically informed message, using the particular media platform best suited for this purpose. In doing so, the communication serves two main objectives: first, to disseminate aspects of the organisation's religiously informed world-view, ideology, values, motives and moral codes; and secondly, to conduct psychological warfare against its enemies.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen—I'm very happy to be here. It is a great pleasure to be speaking to this distinguished audience. On a personal note I must say I spent two wonderful years at the Institute. I have high esteem for the work done at the Institute. This is, I think, a fountain of knowledge, a powerhouse of policy ideas. The Institute, I think, has an impact and makes a difference.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Defense Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Keith Dayton
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The following is a transcript of a keynote address delivered by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton to The Washington Institute's 2009 Soref Symposium on May 7, 2009. General Dayton currently serves as U.S. security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a post he has held since 2005. He recently accepted appointment for another two-year term.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Debt, Peace Studies, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Paul Scham, Osama Abu-Irshaid
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Although peaceful coexistence between Israel and Hamas is clearly not possible under the formulations that comprise Hamas's 1988 charter, Hamas has, in practice, moved well beyond its charter. Indeed, Hamas has been carefully and consciously adjusting its political program for years and has sent repeated signals that it may be ready to begin a process of coexisting with Israel. As evidenced by numerous statements, Hamas is not hostile to Jews because of religion. Rather, Hamas's view toward Israel is based on a fundamental belief that Israel has occupied land that is inherently Palestinian and Islamic. For Hamas, “recognition” of Israel would represent a negation of the rightness of its own cause and would be indefensible under Islam. It considers unacceptable for itself the actions of those Muslim countries that have recognized Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, and those that have indicated their willingness to do so, such as Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab League, because they have provided no theological justification for their policies toward Israel. Although Hamas, as an Islamic organization, will not transgress shari'a, which it understands as forbidding recognition, it has formulated mechanisms that allow it to deal with the reality of Israel as a fait accompli. These mechanisms include the religious concepts of tahadiya and hudna and Hamas's own concept of “Palestinian legitimacy.” Tahadiya refers to a short-term calming period between conflicting parties during which differences are not put aside. A tahadiya stopped most violence between Hamas and Israel from June to December 2008. Hudna is a truce for a specific period, which is based on the practice of the Prophet Mohammad and on subsequent events in Muslim history. Hamas has indicated on a number of occasions its willingness to accede to a hudna with Israel, assuming basic Palestinian rights as set forth in the Arab Peace Initiative (API) are agreed to first. Palestinian legitimacy is a term employed by Hamas to describe its willingness to consider accepting a binding peace treaty, such as the proposal set forth in the API, so long as the treaty is first ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Although Hamas would not directly participate in peace negotiations with Israel, Hamas has indicated that it would be willing to be part of a Palestinian coalition government with Fatah under which Fatah would negotiate the actual treaty. Although a peace process under such circumstances might, for Israelis and Westerners, seem involved, arcane, and of dubious utility, it is necessary to consider the possibility of such a process because there is no realistic scenario under which Hamas will disappear. Understanding the Islamic bases of Hamas's policies and worldview will be essential for the success of any process in which it is engaged.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: Deborah Isser, Peter Van der Auweraert
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq has experienced several waves of mass displacement over the last forty years that have left complex land and property crises in their wake. As security has improved and some of the nearly five million displaced Iraqis have begun to come home, resolution of these issues are at the fore of sustainable return.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Migration, Religion, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Smock, Qamar-ul Huda
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Muslims in general and Muslim leaders particularly have often been severely criticized for not more energetically condemning the violent acts of Muslim extremists. Violent extremists are on one edge of the Muslim community. They are counter-balanced by a growing movement of Muslim peacemakers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Paul Salem
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Middle East is broken. The structures and power balances put in place in the late 1970s and amended after the end of the Cold War are no longer. These structures and balances included a number of key elements. Israel was at peace with Egypt and Jordan and in an informal truce with Syria—hence the Arab–Israeli conflict was no longer pursued by any major contiguous state opponents of Israel. A weakened Palestinian movement had been chased out of Lebanon in 1982 and co-opted in the Oslo Accords of 1993. Syria's role in the region was recognized and its influence in Lebanon legitimized—indeed, after 1990, it was promoted to suzerainty. Iraq was bolstered in the 1980s by the United States as a buffer and counterbalance to revolutionary Iran, and later, throughout the 1990s, it was preserved but contained. Saudi Arabia helped manage the finances of this scheme and helped maintain Arab consensus when possible. And the United States saw out the end of Soviet influence in the region, secured a military foothold in the Gulf, and gained in political influence: first as a broker of Israeli–Egyptian peace in the late 1970s, then as the architect of a pro-Iraqi containment policy against revolutionary Iran in the 1980s, as the leader of an Arab and international coalition to liberate Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion in the early 1990s, and as the patron of another major peace initiative launched in the Madrid peace conference.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Step by methodical step, Hamas is consolidating its control over the Gaza Strip. The latest development followed a 25 July explosion that killed five of the movement's military leaders in addition to a young girl. In response, the Islamist movement mounted a broad campaign during which it overran the Hillis family, one of Gaza's most powerful and which includes prominent Fatah leaders; arrested hundreds of political activists; and raided more than 200 organisations and offices. The campaign largely wiped out the remains of the Palestinian Authority's security services in Gaza, brought families and smaller political factions to heel, further encroached on civil society and crippled Fatah's already limited political and military capacities to mobilise. In Arab capitals, there is continued talk of Palestinian reconciliation. In the U.S., there is discussion of a possible peace agreement between President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert. On the ground, in both Gaza and the West Bank, events are taking a decisively different turn.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Christopher Boucek
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of a wave of deadly terrorist attacks that began in 2003, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched a wide-ranging counterterrorism campaign. Central to Saudi counterterrorism efforts has been the use of unconventional “soft” measures designed to combat the intellectual and ideological justifications for violent extremism. The primary objective of this strategy is to engage and combat an ideology that the Saudi government asserts is based on corrupted and deviant interpretations of Islam. The impetus for this soft approach came in large part from the recognition that violent extremism cannot be combated through tradition security measures alone. This Saudi strategy is composed of three interconnected programs aimed at prevention, rehabilitation, and post- release care (PRAC).
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Linda J. Skitka, Peter Liberman
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: In January 2002 national survey data, we find a strong relationship between Americans' desire to avenge 9/11 and their bellicosity toward Iraq, even after controlling for the perceived terrorist threat, left right ideology, and approval of U.S. political leaders. This effect could have been due to suspicions of Iraqi complicity in 9/11 stemming from prior enemy images of Iraq, or to the effects of anger and desires for revenge on out-group antipathy, displaced blame, and optimistic assessment of war risks. We test the out group antipathy hypothesis and find evidence that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim antipathy partially mediated vengefulness's effect on bellicosity. Vengeance, in turn, was boosted by retributiveness (proxied by rightwing authoritarianism) and patriotism. While perceptions of the Iraqi threat probably assumed greater importance over the course of the following year, additional survey data shows that even as war approached, most supporters acknowledged it would satisfy a desire for revenge.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Thomas F. Lynch
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: There are significant and little appreciated differences in the trajectory of Sunni extremist terrorism and that of Shi'a extremism. The differences exist across six key areas that impact American policy considerations, especially in light of steadily escalating tensions with Iran. First and foremost, Sunni radicals and Shi'a extremists differ in the overall approach and main objectives for their use of terror. The former tend to operate in a continuous, mid-to-high intensity manner, seeing war against infidels and apostates as a perennial condition featuring overlapping waves. Outside of an ongoing and seemingly open-ended campaign against Israel, terrorist attacks by Shi'a groups have by and large featured discrete terror campaigns tethered to state and organizational objectives. Second, Sunni terrorists and Shi'a extremists manifest different patterns for recruiting terrorist operatives and developing terrorist missions. Shi'a terrorists, unlike their Sunni counterparts, enjoy direct state support and for that reason are far more likely to originate from Iranian embassies, consulates and state‐run businesses. Third, despite holding a minority viewpoint within the wider Sunni Islamic community, Sunni extremists, especially Salafi-Jihadis, rely more extensively on the support of their coreligionist expatriate communities in facilitating terrorist activities. Fourth, while employing similar tactics and methods, Shi'a terrorist groups have shown a much greater propensity to kidnap innocents to barter, while Sunni extremists more frequently abduct to kill. Fifth, Shi'a terror groups exhibit a much higher incidence of targeted assassinations for specific political gain, rather than the high-casualty killings featured in Sunni terrorism, and particularly of the Salafi-Jihadist variant. Finally, each sect's extremists manage publicity and propaganda differently. The Sunni approach to information management tends to feature doctrine and resources geared to take immediate credit and widely amplify a terrorist event. Shi'a terrorists, while not averse to normal media publicity and amplification, by and large take a much lower-key approach.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Patrick Gaughen
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Even as U.S. operations to co-opt large elements of the Sunni insurgency and target irreconciliable al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters resulted in lower levels of violence during the summer, U.S. forces have simultaneously pursued rogue elements of Muqtada as-Sadr's Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM). These operations, often in collaboration with Iraqi Security Forces friendly to Sadr's main Shi'a rival, the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI), took place within the broader context of a violent struggle between ISCI and the Sadrist Trend for supremacy within the Shi'a community, the lucrative income from control of the Shi'a shrines, and control of southern oil fields. This struggle has increasingly centered on the city of Diwaniyah, located in southern Iraq, approximately halfway between the capital of Baghdad and the southern port city of Basrah.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria
  • Author: Eric Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Coalition operations have significantly degraded the Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) network over the last year, particularly in central Iraq. One of the main successes was the dismantling of AQI's vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) network. As the VBIED network was rolled up, AQI shifted to conducting more suicide bombings. A major component of the suicide bombing network was located in the Baqubah-Khan Bani Saad corridor in Diyala province, which lies northeast of Baghdad. In January and February Coalition and Iraqi forces set about dismantling this network. This backgrounder details AQI's shift to suicide bombings and the operations to dismantle the Diyala suicide bombing network. A number of conclusions are draw about how AQI continues to operate throughout Iraq, the increasing capacity of the Iraqi army, and the relationship between kinetic and non-kinetic aspects of counterinsurgency.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Eric Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: In the last year Coalition and Iraqi Forces and local Iraqi citizens made significant progress fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). AQI was cleared from former areas of operation like Anbar and Baghdad and the organization became fragmented with its freedom of movement and ability to conduct operations reduced. Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-Iraq) recently released a series of maps illustrating these developments. These maps are presented and explained in this Backgrounder.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Marisa Cochrane Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: While al-Qaeda in Iraq remains the primary threat in northern Iraq, violence by Special Groups—Shi'a extremist elements funded, trained, and armed by Iran—remains a key challenge to stability and security in central and southern Iraq. Despite reports in late 2007 that Iranian sponsorship of Special Groups had declined, the trend in Special Groups activity in January and February 2008 suggests otherwise. In a recent briefing, Admiral Gregory Smith, the Deputy Spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq, explicitly stated, “The Special Groups' activity has not decreased in recent months. They continue to be probably the most violent of the extremist groups that we're seeing from Shi'a sects. [The] intent of Iran in supporting the training and financing we believe continues.” Other officials from both the Departments of State and Defense have also cited an increase in Special Groups activity since the beginning of 2008.The use of highly-lethal explosively-formed penetrators (EFP), a hallmark of Iranian-backed groups, has risen since the start of 2008.Indeed, the month of January saw twelve EFP attacks, which was the highest monthly total of such attacks in over a year. This meant that, on average, from early January to early February, there was an EFP attack every three days.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Marisa Cochrane Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: It is widely speculated in the media that the relationship between the Shi'a government of Iran and the Sunni insurgent group, al-Qaeda in Iraq, is a hostile one, primarily because of the sectarian differences between the two. However, there is clear evidence of Iranian support for another Sunni group, the Taliban in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is worth investigating the potential links between al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Iranian regime, particularly the Iranian Revolutionary Guard-Quds Force (IRGCQF). The dossier below contains articles, press releases, and Defense Department briefings from the last year that consider the nature of this relationship. While it may not present a definitive explanation of the connection between these groups, it does suggest possible links exist between the groups and the sectarian grounds for dismissing the relationship are likely too simplistic. The most relevant passages have been highlighted in yellow.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Taliban
  • Author: Marisa Cochrane Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Over the last month there has been an increase in coordinated, well-planned attacks. While Coalition Forces are still investigating the perpetrators of these attacks, others have been quick to credit al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Although AQI is still present in Iraq, their networks have been largely disrupted by aggressive operations by Coalition Forces and Sons of Iraq (SoI). Since June 2007, the number of AQI attacks has decreased by eighty percent. Their recent activity has been limited to the use of female suicide bombers on soft targets. It is unlikely that AQI has regenerated its forces and capabilities in such a short period of time.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Farook Ahmed
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Iraqi Prime Minister Nourial-Maliki's recent offensives against Shi'a extremist groups in Baghdad and Southern Iraq have been credited with bringing ancillary benefits to Iraq, as they have been credited by Iraq's main Sunni Arab parliamentary bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF, or "Tawafuq") to return to Prime Minister Maliki's government. This appears to strengthen the Iraqi government while serving as a milestone for Iraqi sectarian reconciliation.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Governance, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and the Center for Global Counter Terrorism Co-operation (Center) convened a brainstorming on 11 - 12 July in Rome on “Implementing the UN General Assembly's Counter-Terrorism Strategy: Addressing Youth Radicalisation in the Mediterranean Region. Lessons Learned, Best Practices and Recommendations.” The event was organised in co-operation with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centro Studi sul Federalismo (Turin), with the support of the Compagnia di San Paolo. The participants included experts from the UN and other multilateral bodies, officials from the Italian and German governments, and academic and other non-government experts from the United States, Europe and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The meeting also included a roundtable of representatives of the “Consulta Giovanile per il Pluralismo Religioso e Culturale” (Youth Consultative Council), a youth advisory board recently established by the Italian Ministries of Youth and Sport and Interior to enhance the role of youth in promoting dialogue and tolerance among different cultures and religions. The Rt. Hon. Giovanna Melandri, the Italian Minister for Youth Policies and Sport addressed the brainstorming.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Islam, Science and Technology, Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Gilbert Rozman, Chu Shulong
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In the post-Cold War era and in the early 21st century, the region of Northeast Asia remains one of the most unstable areas in Asia and in the world compared with other regions of Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Southern Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America. And it could become a harsh strategic confrontational area between major powers in Asia and in the world in the future, if those major powers like the United States, China, Japan, and Russia do not manage their relationships well. It can also become a place of hot war or new Cold War in the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait, if the two Koreas and two sides of the Taiwan Strait problem cannot manage the unresolved issues in their relations. Northeast Asia is also on track to become another center of the global economy, science and technology, military, and international politics. Opportunities as well as challenges to Asia and the world come from the “rising” China and Asia.
  • Topic: Security, Globalization, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, America, Europe, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: James Russell
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Like the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War of 1967, the U.S. invasion of Iraq is fundamentally reordering regional politics and security in ways that will be felt for a generation, if not longer.1 The Pandora's Box opened by the United States in Iraq adds a new level of unwelcome complexity to an already strained regional fabric. Threats to regional security stem from global, interstate, and intrastate sources. The complicated, multidimensional, and interrelated natures of these threats suggest that the United States must reassess strategy and policy if it is to protect and further its regional interests. The objective of this monograph is threefold: (1) deconstruct the threats to regional security and stability in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion; (2) determine whether U.S. strategy is tailored to the threat environment; and (3) suggest steps that can be taken to bring strategy and the environment into closer alignment.
  • Topic: Security, Globalization, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Stephen D. Sklenka
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on the interrelationship among national interests, stated ends, means to achieve those ends, and the strategies required to tie all of them together into a cohesive and effective vision for the commitment of U.S. forces. The introduction addresses the current U.S. debate regarding proposed actions in the Iraq War and postulates that the lack of true strategic discussion, particularly by our national leadership who instead prefer to focus on far less appropriate discussions such as tactics and techniques, inhibits the development of a comprehensive and effective overarching vision and ultimately is to blame for the setbacks that the U.S.-led coalition has experienced in Iraq. This lack of strategic foresight, however, is not surprising and has become endemic to American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. The fact that so much of U.S. post-Cold War foreign policy involves interventions merely exacerbates the difficulties a lack of strategic foresight engenders. The U.S. inability—or unwillingness—to connect strategic ends and appropriate means to accomplish clearly defined goals has occurred so often over the past 15 years that one could make a credible argument that it has become a disturbing and pervasive characteristic of the modern American way of war.
  • Topic: Cold War, Development, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Gold
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs
  • Abstract: In October of 2003, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo to his top advisers asking how we would know whether the US was winning the Global War on Terror. This question may have been mistimed but it was perfectly appropriate. In this paper, I use the framework of cost-benefit analysis to identify some of the issues that would need to be addressed in order to answer Rumsfeld's question. The most difficult issue is that there is no accepted definition as to what constitutes victory, or success, so there is no way to identify the ultimate benefits. Available evidence does suggest that while there are numerous identifiable sources of costs, it is far less clear where the benefits are located. The conclusion, necessarily qualitative in nature, is that the costs have been many and the benefits few.
  • Topic: National Security, Political Economy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Media Tenor International
  • Abstract: Coverage on the Middle East continues to be very prominent in many countries, particularly the United States, where close to 80% of all its international coverage is devoted to the region. In German television, other European countries together received the same volumes as the Middle East. This is a very high ratio, considering that German troops are only involved in Afghanistan, and not in other Arab countries. Coverage on the Middle East is considerably subdued in South African television when compared to other measured countries, perhaps because events in Europe received considerably more attention. German television committed the largest share of its coverage to international news (44%), followed by the United States and Britain (37%), while Arab television dedicated 29% of its coverage to the international arena. The lowest share of international focus was in South African television news (24%).
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, War, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Sharon Burke, Dr. Elaine C. Kamarck, William Galston
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: For more than four decades, the purpose of American foreign policy was to win the Cold War. On November 9, 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, that understanding of America's place in the world changed forever. Less than one month later, the Presidents of the Soviet Union and United States met at Malta and agreed that the Cold War was over.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Soviet Union
  • Author: Matt Bennett, Sharon Burke, Jeremy Ershow
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: The idea that Americans are safe from al Qaeda because the group has not struck inside the United States since 9/11—a claim repeated just this week by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff—is one of the Bush administration's most dangerous, short-sighted and questionable notions about terrorism. Experience alone suggests otherwise: eight years passed between al Qaeda's first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993 and their attack in 2001. Indeed, a more thorough examination of the facts suggests that the threat not only remains—it is growing.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Kimberly Kagan
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: General David Petraeus, commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq, and Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, launched a coordinated offensive operation on June 15, 2007 to clear al Qaeda strongholds outside of Baghdad. The arrival of the fifth Army "surge" brigade, the Marine Expeditionary Unit, and the combat aviation brigade enabled GEN Petraeus and LTG Odierno to begin this major offensive, named "Operation Phantom Thunder." Three different U.S. Division Headquarters in different provinces are participating in Phantom Thunder. Multi-National Division-North (Diyala); Multi-National Division-Center (North Babil and Baghdad); and Multi-National Division-West (Anbar). In addition to reinforcing these areas with new troops, LTG Odierno and his division commanders have repositioned some brigades and battalions that were already operating in and around Baghdad.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Will Waddell
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: What began in Anbar as a local movement of tribes is developing into a national phenomenon. In Baqouba, the erstwhile capital of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq, between 40 and 60 al Qaeda operatives sought on August 15 to attack the southern Buhriz neighborhood of that city. As the first wave of attackers entered they were met with withering fire from a group of concerned citizens, calling themselves the 'Baqouba Guardians.' These volunteer fighters killed seven in that first clash, including two suicide bombers interdicted before they could reach their intended targets. A call for Coalition gunship support broke up the next attack even as it prepared for action. At the end of the fight some 21 al Qaeda terrorists were dead.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Andrea R. So
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: In March 2003, before Operation Iraqi Freedom I began, Baghdad's Mansour district was an affluent Sunni enclave with “villas, gardens, and private pools.”Also known as the “embassies district,” it attracted shoppers seeking luxury foreign goods from all over the city.Due to the ongoing Iraq War, however, the district and its many neighborhoods succumbed to sectarian violence. In the four years between 2003 and 2007, conflict between Sunni and Shiite militias transformed Mansour into “a bombed-out wasteland.”The intense violence included street battles between rival militias, kidnappings, bombings, assassinations and death squads. Thus, many residents to fled from the area due to a lack of security and services. Because this district was “one of the most heavily contested by the Shiite and Sunni militias,” restoring order there has been challenging for U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Will Waddell
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: They call themselves Farsan Al Rafidayn, the Knights of the Two Rivers. And in Ameriya, a formerly wealthy district of western Baghdad, they have turned on al Qaeda, routing with the help of the coalition, approximately 90% of the terrorist operatives.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Nermeen Shaikh
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns is the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the Department of State's third ranking official. Prior to his current assignment, Ambassador Burns was the United States Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As Ambassador to NATO, he headed the combined State-Defense Department U.S. Mission to NATO at a time when the Alliance committed to new missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war against terrorism, and accepted seven new members.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Kurt M. Campbell, Willow Darsie
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously bemoaned the challenges of measuring success in a long twilight struggle with Islamic fundamentalists. There are the “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” that confront the United States in the most unfamiliar set of foreign policy challenges in the country's history. In addition to the difficulties of establishing “metrics” – as Rumsfeld would put it – in our war on terror, there is also the intrinsically related and perhaps more vexing question of how the global ideological virus of Islamic fundamentalism is morphing and evolving. An influential and well-funded cohort of radicalized Islamists, seizing upon an unyielding interpretation of religious text (a kind of Koranic original intent), has been at war with the West for nearly a generation, and the pace of operations globally is accelerating. According to recently released U.S. government reports, there has been a sharp surge in the number of global terrorist attacks in recent years, a tally substantially comprised of incidents initiated by Islamist instigators. Taken in its totality with all its many manifestations, the jihadist challenge stretches from the Taliban strongholds in the rugged Afghan mountains and the dense jungle hideouts of the Philippines, to the ornate mosques of Saudi Arabia, from a quiet neighborhood in Leeds, England to, just possibly, a place near you.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East