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  • Author: Dr. M. Chris Mason
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were lost before they began, not on the battlefields, where the United States won every tactical engagement, but at the strategic level of war. In each case, the U.S. Government attempted to create a Western-style democracy in countries which were decades at least away from being nations with the sociopolitical capital necessary to sustain democracy and, most importantly, accept it as a legitimate source of governance. The expensive indigenous armies created in the image of the U.S. Army lacked both the motivation to fight for illegitimate governments in Saigon, Baghdad, and Kabul and a cause that they believed was worth dying for, while their enemies in the field clearly did not. This book examines the Afghan National Security Forces in historical and political contexts, explains why they will fail at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of war, why they cannot and will not succeed in holding the southern half of the country, and what will happen in Afghanistan year-by-year from 2015 to 2019. Finally, it examines what the critical lessons unlearned of these conflicts are for U.S. military leaders, why these fundamental political lessons seem to remain unlearned, and how the strategic mistakes of the past can be avoided in the future.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Outside of its own borders, Iran now has significant proxy presence and influence in four countries encompassing 1.1 million square kilometers and 82 million people, in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon It has done this by leveraging tactical decisions made by other countries into its own strategic expansion; from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and now Yemen, Iran is taking advantage of the short-term actions of others in its long-term plan The complete collapse of the U.S.-aided Yemeni president and the associated counterterrorism and military support is just the latest example of measures intended to address immediate pressures, which ultimately benefit Iran-all while U.S. airstrikes support Iraqi and Iranian militias in Tikrit against the immediate threat of the Islamic State It's not that Iranian leaders are all-knowing, masterful chess players but rather that the Middle East has for decades been a battlefield of ad hoc stability measures by numerous countries that have enabled Iran to steadily project power, to the extreme concern of countries such as Saudi Arabia, which has now launched airstrikes in Yemen.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Syria
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Iraqi security forces, which include more Shi'a militia than Iraqi army personnel, have retaken nearly all of Tikrit, with Islamic State fighters still holding out in the center of the city The tomb of former dictator Saddam Hussein was destroyed during the fighting; the Islamic State is placing the blame on Shi'a militia while the Iraqi government says Islamic State fighters were responsible It is unlikely that the destruction of the tomb will rally many Sunnis to the Islamic State's cause, though it doesn't help lower sectarian tensions; it will be far more destructive if sectarian fighting follows the fall of Tikrit and other towns The Islamic State will seek every opportunity to turn this conflict into a repeat of Saddam's 1980-1988 war on Iran, where the Iraqi Sunni battle the Shi'a of both countries; only if the Shi'a militia oblige the group by perpetrating atrocities and oppression towards the Sunni population they liberated will this be achievable.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Over the years since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Southern Gulf states and the US have developed a de facto strategic partnership based on a common need to deter and defend against any threat from Iran, deal with regional instability in countries like Iraq and Yemen, counter the threat of terrorism and extremism, and deal with the other threats to the flow of Gulf petroleum exports.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, North America
  • 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: 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: Charles C. Caris, Samuel Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Islamic State's June 2014 announcement of a “caliphate” is not empty rhetoric. In fact, the idea of the caliphate that rests within a controlled territory is a core part of ISIS's political vision. The ISIS grand strategy to realize this vision involves first establishing control of terrain through military conquest and then reinforcing this control through governance. This grand strategy proceeds in phases that have been laid out by ISIS itself in its publications, and elaborates a vision that it hopes will attract both fighters and citizens to its nascent state. The declaration of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, however, raises the question: can ISIS govern?
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Jacqueline Page
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: As the complex global security environment faced by NATO members continues to evolve in the coming years, terrorism – waged by actors both in and outside of their borders – will remain a vexing challenge. For over a decade, NATO's counterterrorism strategy has been built on taking the fight abroad. Member nations have been intimately involved in this effort as contributors to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, to the Multi-National Force in Iraq and in a variety of smaller missions around the globe. In recent times, however, there has been growing attention to the threat posed by “homegrown” terrorism and foreign fighters returning from Syria and elsewhere to their home countries throughout the Euro-Atlantic area.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Edmund Cairns
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The UK needs a safe world in which to trade and invest, and to be free from the security threats caused by conflicts or fragile states. Yet spiralling inequality and climate change, among many other factors, threaten to create a more dangerous, unequal world. As the continuing tragedy in Syria shows, the world's old and new powers have not yet found a way to unite to end conflicts. The age of interventions, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, is over. But a new rule-based world in which China, India, and others unite with Western powers to protect civilians and end conflicts has not yet come into being. Whoever wins the 2015 UK general election, the greatest test for UK foreign policy will be how much it can do to help build that world.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Poverty, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Britain, China, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, India, Syria
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The loss of government control in a major city may be just the wakeup call Iraqi politicians need to embrace a more ambitious reconciliation agenda.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Jihadists are steadily capturing territory and resources and establishing a state in Syria and Iraq. The most capable jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), now controls swathes of territory, energy resources, and sophisticated military hardware in both countries. Although the extremists are currently occupied with fighting other nonregime armed groups and the Syrian and Iraqi regimes, these efforts are a means to an end: building a state from which to confront and target the United States, its allies, and its interests in the region. These jihadist groups also bring boundless suffering to the populations they control, and serve as a magnet for and inspiration to jihadists worldwide.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Mieke Eoyang, Peter Billerbeck
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: Congress should pass a new, specific authorization for the President to act against ISIS. ISIS represents a substantial threat, and left unchecked, could launch attacks against the US. Because defeating ISIS will be a long-term effort, it is incumbent on Congress to pass a new authorization for the use of force. Unlike previous authorizations, this one should be carefully tailored and come in the context of a broader strategy.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Daniel Gorevan
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: While the world's attention is on crises in Gaza, Ukraine and elsewhere, the humanitarian crisis in Syria continues to deteriorate beyond anything that could have been envisaged when protests broke out over three years ago. A staggering 190,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million displaced inside the country, and the conflict shows little sign of abating. There are three million registered refugees from Syria in neighbouring countries and an unknown number who have not registered. Jordan's planning minister has highlighted the fact that the presence of Syrian refugees in Jordan is akin to 'the United States absorbing the entire population of Canada'.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Canada, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Christina Bennett
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Though the violent conflict in Syria shows few signs of abating and scenarios for any post conflict solution are numerous and vague, renewed interest in peace talks presents an important opportunity to discuss the parameters of peace and reconstruction in Syria.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • 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: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The political participation of the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq is critical to the security and stability of the state. At present, they are functionally excluded from government, with those that do participate coopted by the increasingly authoritarian Shi'a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Without effective political representation, the Sunni in Iraq are left with few alternatives to address their grievances against the Maliki government. The important decisions lie ahead on whether to pursue their goals via political compromise, federalism, or insurgency.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Insurgency, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Guillaume Lasconjarias
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In a January 2012 publication, the NATO Military Committee revised its Framework Policy on Reserves: "As many nations increasingly make use of professional soldiers in their Regular Forces, whilst simultaneously reducing them in size, the need for Reservists will be even greater." This reflects a position shared across NATO, where most member states recognize the need for volunteer-part-time Defense Forces able to deliver significant capability when needed. In a challenging security environment, whilst the Regular Forces are largely reduced and professionalized Reserve Forces act as a pool to support, reinforce, enhance and improve their regular counterparts. They provide a surge of personnel that can be drawn upon.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Author: David M. Malone, Poorvi Chitalkar
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The UN Security Council, largely handicapped by the Cold War until the late 1980s, has become considerably more proactive over the last twenty-five years. The results are mixed. One constant for the Council since 1980 is that it has been at grips with conflicts involving Iraq — conflicts with Iraq's neighbours and also internal strife prior to and particularly since 2003. Every instrument at the Council's disposal, including all the coercive ones, have been invoked at one time or another against authorities in Iraq or to assist them. After a promising beginning in helping to end the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), and in mandating the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, which Baghdad had sought to annex in 1990, the Council's silent tolerance of intrusive international humanitarian activities in Iraq's Kurdish provinces as of 1991 was ground-breaking. Nevertheless, the Council's post-war strategy for Iraq outlined in Resolution 687 of 1991 wound up over-reaching, involved serious unintended consequences arising from an overzealous sanctions regime (and a related humanitarian program the UN did not possess the administrative machinery to oversee effectively), and eventually sundered relations among the Permanent Five (P-5) members of the Council through a series of fractious episodes from 1988 to 2003. This working paper outlines a three-decade span of Security Council resolutions, actions and impasses on Iraq, investigating closely the period of diplomatic confrontation in 2002–2003 culminating in unilateral military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power by the US, the UK and a very few others without a mandate from the Council to do so. The UN was subsequently mostly side-lined in and on Iraq. The paper considers damage to perceptions of the Council legitimacy stemming from the events of 2002–2003 and assesses its evolving approach to international security in Iraq and beyond since then.
  • Topic: Security, Cold War, Humanitarian Aid, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Jane Kinninmont
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The World Today
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Syria's civil war is exacerbating tension between Iraqi factions
  • Topic: Security, Government, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Kirk Talbott, John Waugh, Douglas Batson
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: PRISM
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Burma wavers on the cusp of a transition from conflict, plunder, and risk towards peace and a more open, stable society. A half-century of armed warfare, largely financed by the rapid exploitation of high-value natural resources, may be coming to an end in mainland Southeast Asia's largest nation. The use and extraction of environmental assets will continue, however, to determine Burma's political and economic future. Unfortunately, natural resources too often play a perverse role in preventing needed reforms in countries emerging from protracted conflict. In an era of fiscal constraint, "sequestration," and a decade of Iraq and Afghanistan nation-building fatigue, how can the U.S. best aid Burma's transformation? The on-the-ground situations in Burma, namely, ethnic conflicts, land grabs, internally displaced persons, each undergirded by a deep distrust of the central government, are as varied as they are fluid. U.S. foreign policy issues regarding the nation also known as Myanmar, beginning with that nation's toponym,2 are so complex as to defy the Interagency and Tactical Conflict Assessment Frameworks, respectively vaunted by U.S. government civilian agencies and military services.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma