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  • Author: Afrah Nasser
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: After Yemen’s 2011 uprising broke out, the country went through a series of political upheavals and cycles of violence that tore the country apart, including the start of a full-scale civil war in 2014 and the Saudi- and UAE-led intervention in 2015. In a context where civilians have been deliberately attacked by all sides, COVID-19 has added a new layer to the unspeakable suffering for millions of civilians in Yemen, whilst Europe has reacted with development aid but has thus far failed to support need for accountability in the conflict.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Health, War, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Zainab Saleh
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: For decades, U.S. policy actions towards Iraq have had devastating consequences for the Iraqi people. This paper situates the U.S. “war on terrorism” in Iraq since 2003 within a longer trajectory of U.S. intervention in that country since the 1960s and shows that we can only understand the full human costs of current interventions when we see them in broader historical context. The author, Zainab Saleh, an assistant professor of anthropology at Haverford College, was born in Iraq and lived there until 1997. Later, she conducted ethnographic research with Iraqis who had migrated to London since the late 1970s. The Iraqis she knew and met felt they were pawns at the mercy of global powers. When the U.S. invaded Iraq and brought down Hussein in 2003, Iraqis saw the United States' true motive as continuing a well-established pattern of pursuing U.S. economic interests in the region. Since the 1960s, Iraqi arms purchases have bolstered American military-industrial corporations and stable access to Middle East oil has secured U.S. dominance in the global economy. The paper tells the story of one Iraqi woman, Rasha, who was forced by the violence in her country to flee to London. Rasha’s displacement and her family’s history of dispossession – her father imprisoned, her family impoverished, friends murdered and her own life threatened – show the deep human effects of decades of U.S. intervention. In 1963, under pretext of protecting the region from a communist threat, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency backed a coup by the Arab nationalist Ba‘th party after Iraq nationalized most of its oil fields. During the 1980s, the United States supported Saddam Hussein’s regime and prolonged the Iran-Iraq War in order to safeguard its national interests in the region, including weakening Iran to prevent it from posing a threat to U.S. power. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, U.S. policy shifted from alignment to “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran, a posture which culminated in the Gulf War of 1991 to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. In the 1990s, the United States justified its imposition of economic sanctions by claiming a goal of disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and protecting allies. In 2003, the U.S. packaged its invasion of Iraq as delivering U.S. values—namely, freedom and democracy—to the Iraqi people. Saleh writes, “The imperial encounter between Iraq and the United States has made life deeply precarious for Iraqis. For decades, they have lived with fear for their own and their family’s lives, the loss of loved ones and homeland, the realities of economic hardship, and the destruction of the fabric of their social lives.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, History, Counter-terrorism, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ian Anthony
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: The inadequate response to the use of chemical weapons by a state against its own population was an important catalyst leading to the creation of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). A great deal has been achieved under the CWC, which is an important example of how multilateral cooperation can succeed. Recent cases of confirmed use prove that the task of eliminating chemical weapons is not complete. Chemical weapons are once again being used on the battlefield and as terror weapons. Moreover, their use in targeted attacks against politically exposed persons presents a new challenge to the commitment made by CWC states parties that chemicals will be developed and produced exclusively for peaceful use. When they come together to review the CWC in late 2020, the states parties will have to assess whether their response to the challenges posed by the use of chemical weapons has been proportionate to the threat. If not, then they will have the responsibility to create the new capacities, invent the new instruments and develop the new initiatives that will make their efforts more effective. This SIPRI Policy Paper provides an explanation of the context for some important recent decisions and an analysis of them. It also proposes some actions that CWC states parties could take together in support of the effort to eliminate the threat of chemical weapons.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, War, Weapons , Disarmament, Chemical Weapons
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Neta C. Crawford
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: Since late 2001, the United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $6.4 Trillion through Fiscal Year 2020 in budgetary costs related to and caused by the post-9/11 wars—an estimated $5.4 Trillion in appropriations in current dollars and an additional minimum of $1 Trillion for US obligations to care for the veterans of these wars through the next several decades. The mission of the post-9/11 wars, as originally defined, was to defend the United States against future terrorist threats from al Qaeda and affiliated organizations. Since 2001, the wars have expanded from the fighting in Afghanistan, to wars and smaller operations elsewhere, in more than 80 countries — becoming a truly “global war on terror.” Further, the Department of Homeland Security was created in part to coordinate the defense of the homeland against terrorist attacks. These wars, and the domestic counterterror mobilization, have entailed significant expenses, paid for by deficit spending. Thus, even if the United States withdraws completely from the major war zones by the end of FY2020 and halts its other Global War on Terror operations, in the Philippines and Africa for example, the total budgetary burden of the post-9/11 wars will continue to rise as the US pays the on-going costs of veterans’ care and for interest on borrowing to pay for the wars. Moreover, the increases in the Pentagon base budget associated with the wars are likely to remain, inflating the military budget over the long run.
  • Topic: War, Budget, Counter-terrorism, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Middle East, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: More than a decade of civil strife has opened up the region for the escalating state-to-state conflict.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, War, Military Strategy, Conflict, Regional Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Eran Lerman
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: What Can and Should Be Done to Limit the Scope of the Turkish Assault on Rojava?
  • Topic: War, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Kurdistan
  • Author: David M. Weinberg
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: The IDF must return to the fundamentals: ground maneuver to achieve “hachra’a” – decisive outcomes.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, War, Military Strategy, Conflict, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of "failed state" wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one. Any meaningful form of "victory" requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation's population. In practical terms, these failures make a given host government, other contending factions, and competing outside powers as much of a threat to each nation’s stability and future as Islamic extremists and other hostile forces. Regardless of the scale of any defeat of extremists, the other internal tensions and divisions with each country also threaten to make any such “victory” a prelude to new forms of civil war, and/or an enduring failure to cope with security, stability, recovery, and development. Any real form of victory requires a different approach to stability operations and civil-military affairs. In each case, the country the U.S. is seeking to aid failed to make the necessary economic progress and reforms to meet the needs of its people – and sharply growing population – long before the fighting began. The growth of these problems over a period of decades helped trigger the sectarian, ethnic, and other divisions that made such states vulnerable to extremism and civil conflict, and made it impossible for the government to respond effectively to crises and wars.
  • Topic: Security, War, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sundan
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: En 2004, le leader d’Al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, déclarait: “Plus de la moitié de la lutte a lieu dans les médias… nous sommes au cœur d’une bataille médiatique dans la course pour gagner les esprits et les cœurs de notre Oumma (Communauté musulmane)”[1] Alors que l’incitation à la violence est largement connue du grand public, un autre pan entier de la stratégie de communication djihadiste l’est beaucoup moins : l’utilisation de la poésie, de la musique ou encore de la narration comme vecteur de son idéologie, notamment au travers de plateformes en lignes.[2] La pieuvre artistique et médiatique mise en place par l’État Islamique depuis sa création lui a permis d’exploiter toutes les possibilités du web. Que ce soit à travers la publication de revue et communiqués ou encore la production de vidéos et photos, tous les volets de la stratégie de l’État Islamique ont eu pour cœur opérationnel internet et ses milliers de fenêtres qu’il ouvre vers le reste du monde.[3] Ainsi, l’Etat Islamique est actif en ligne sur tous les fronts : diffusion de son idéologie, levée de fonds, recrutement de sympathisants, coordination et revendication de ses attaques, etc.
  • Topic: Security, War, Islamic State, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: David Carment
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Today’s geopolitical conflicts, especially among great powers, involve a desire to fundamentally revise the order of alliances as well as solidify new norms of conduct. The purpose of our paper is to delineate two distinct phenomena in international affairs – hybrid warfare, which emphasizes the tactical level and grey-zone conflicts, which incorporates a long-term strategic dimension into international disputes. We argue that hybrid warfare can be a tactical subset of grey-zone conflict deployed under certain conditions and in varying degrees. We examine four case studies: China’s application of ‘unrestricted warfare’, Russia’s strategy of ‘hybrid balancing’, ‘regional hybridism’ practiced by Israel and ‘restricted hybridism’ applied by Canada/NATO globally. We conclude that the solution to challenges from Russia and China is not a military one but a political and collective one based on baseline requirements for building resilience. Israel, on the other hand, is largely uninterested in the revision of order of alliances and will continue to utilize its tactical advantage vis-à-vis regional neighbors to achieve victories in short conflicts. We conclude that NATO (and Canada) should work more closely with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Union to effectively extend security guarantees to its members. In doing so Canada and likeminded countries will involve the costs of engaging in hybrid warfare and the subsequent erosion of democratic accountability.
  • Topic: NATO, War, Geopolitics, Hybrid Warfare
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Middle East, Canada, Israel, Asia
  • Author: Yaakov Amidror
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: It must be made clear to Israel’s rivals in both the north and the south that they will pay a very serious price for attacking Israel.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, War, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Jonathan Spyer
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: Israel has fully joined the battle in Syria—but it’s not clear it can achieve any of its goals there.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, War, Military Strategy, Conflict, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Efraim Inbar
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: In the absence of a clear American or Turkish determination to confront Iranian encroachment, only Israel has the power to stop it.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, War, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Andrew Shaver, Jacob N. Shapiro
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC)
  • Abstract: Scholars of civil war and insurgency have long posited that insurgent organizations and their state enemies incur costs for the collateral damage they cause. We provide the first direct quantitative evidence that wartime informing is affected by civilian casualties. Using newly declassified data on tip flow to Coalition forces in Iraq we find that information flow goes down after government forces inadvertently kill civilians and it goes up when insurgents do so. These results have strong policy implications; confirm a relationship long posited in the theoretical literature on insurgency; and are consistent with a broad range of circumstantial evidence on the topic.
  • Topic: War, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency, Information Age, Civilians, Casualties
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Alexandra Francis
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Syrian refugee crisis has exacerbated endemic political, economic, and resource challenges in Jordan. As the conflict in Syria enters a protracted state and public discontent and other tensions rise, Jordan has limited its humanitarian response. Yet, the roots of the kingdom’s challenges run deeper than the refugee crisis and if left unaddressed will be harbingers of instability. If Jordan is to confront its national challenges and continue to provide a safe haven for Syrian refugees, the country will depend on increased international support.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Political Economy, War, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Sarah Wolff
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The death of Aylan, a 3-year-old boy on a Turkish beach, prompted European leaders and public opinions to acknowledge that Europe is the deadliest migration destination in the world. In spite of this disturbing truth, there is little agreement on an EU solution to the Syrian refugee crisis. In September 2015, the EU Interior Ministers struggled to agree over the relocation of 120,000 refugees through a common compulsory mechanism, as Eastern European countries oppose the idea of “sharing the burden.” Progress regarding other solutions such as a European rescue at-sea-mission, the delivery of humanitarian visas or the opening of legal means of migration have also met strong member state resistance. If Europe is not up to the task, can international organisations (IOs), often critical of European states for their inaction, impulse change? What influence do IOs have on EU and Mediterranean migration and refugee policies? This paper investigates how IOs have been trying to frame an alternative debate and the challenges they meet in promoting transregional governance.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, War, Immigration, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-66-8
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Dr. W. Andrew Terill
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In an unexpected effort to protect a key Middle Eastern ally, the Kremlin intervened in Syria with military forces in late September 2015. This effort was undertaken to protect the Bashar Assad regime from Islamist and secular rebels now threatening his regime. Moscow initiated this action with a limited force that may be primarily designed to prevent Assad’s ouster but does not have the capabilities to help him retake large tracks of the country from the rebel groups that are now holding them. The Russian leadership made the decision to use military units in Syria at some political cost, aware that it was poisoning relations with many conservative anti-Assad Arabs and complicating its troubled relationship with Western powers.1 At some point, the Russians will have to consider the questions of how well these efforts have met their goal of bolstering the regime and what will be their next moves. They may also be rapidly faced with pressure to escalate their commitment to support the regime, if current actions do not produce meaningful results. They may also learn the painful lesson of other great powers, that military intervention in the Middle East is often much more problematic than national leaders initially expect.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Islam, Politics, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Robert D. Lamb, Sadika Hameed, Kathryn Mixon
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has a number of interests and values at stake in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, or "South Asia" for the purposes of this analysis. But it also has a broader set of such concerns at stake regionally (in the greater Middle East, Eurasia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia)—and, of course, globally as well. Any long- term policy or strategy frame- work for South Asia needs to be built around the global and regional concerns that are most likely to persist across multiple changes in U.S. political leadership regardless of political party.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Middle East, India
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The peace process to end the 30-year-old insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) against Turkey's government is at a turning point. It will either collapse as the sides squander years of work, or it will accelerate as they commit to real convergences. Both act as if they can still play for time – the government to win one more election, the PKK to further build up quasi-state structures in the country's predominantly- Kurdish south east. But despite a worrying upsurge in hostilities, they currently face few insuperable obstacles at home and have two strong leaders who can still see the process through. Without first achieving peace, they cannot cooperate in fighting their common enemy, the jihadi threat, particularly from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Increasing ceasefire violations, urban unrest and Islamist extremism spilling over into Turkey from regional conflicts underline the cost of delays. Both sides must put aside external pretexts and domestic inertia to compromise on the chief problem, the Turkey-PKK conflict inside Turkey.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, War, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Bryan Gold
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The report shows that Iran's current missile and rocket forces help compensate for its lack of effective air power and allow it to pose a threat to its neighbors and US forces that could affect their willingness to strike on Iran if Iran uses its capabilities for asymmetric warfare in the Gulf or against any of its neighbors. At another level, Iran's steady increase in the number, range, and capability of its rocket and missile forces has increased the level of tension in the Gulf, and in other regional states like Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. Iran has also shown that it will transfer long-range rockets to “friendly” or “proxy” forces like the Hezbollah and Hamas. At a far more threatening level, Iran has acquired virtually every element of a nuclear breakout capability except the fissile material needed to make a weapon. This threat has already led to a growing “war of sanctions,” and Israeli and US threats of preventive strikes. At the same time, the threat posed by Iran's nuclear programs cannot be separated from the threat posed by Iran's growing capabilities for asymmetric warfare in the Gulf and along all of its borders. It is far from clear that negotiations and sanctions can succeed in limiting Iran's ability to acquire nuclear weapons and deploy nuclear-armed missiles. At the same time, the report shows that military options offer uncertain alternatives. Both Israel and the US have repeatedly stated that they are planning and ready for military options that could include preventive strikes on at least Iran's nuclear facilities and, and that US strikes might cover a much wider range of missile facilities and other targets. A preventive war might trigger a direct military confrontation or conflict in the Gulf with little warning. It might also lead to at least symbolic Iranian missile strikes on US basing facilities, GCC targets or Israel. At the same time, it could lead to much more serious covert and proxy operations in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, the rest of the Gulf, and other areas.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Omar Shaban
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The ceasefire agreement signed on Wednesday evening, 22nd November 2012 in Cairo between Hamas and Israel, which ended eight days of fighting between the two sides, was certainly not the first ceasefire since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, and unfortunately will not be the last. There are many indicators that warn that the cycle of violence may start not after years but after months" writes Omar Shaban.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, War, Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • 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: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iraq is in an ongoing struggle to establish a new national identity, and one that can bridge across the deep sectarian divisions between its Shi'ite s and Sunnis and the ethnic division s between its Arabs and its Kurds and other minorities. At the same time, it must build a new structure of governance, economic, and social order after a period of dictatorship, war, sanctions, occupation and civil conflict that began in 1979 and has continued ever since. It must cope with a steadily growing population, and diversify an economy that is so dependent on petroleum exports that they provide some 95% of its government revenues. This struggle can still end in a new round of serious civil conflict and even in the division of the country. At the same time, Iraq does have great potential and its political divisions and ongoing low - level violence do not mean it cannot succeed in establishing stability, security, and a better life for its people.
  • Topic: Democratization, Peace Studies, War, Counterinsurgency, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, Princeton University
  • Abstract: The Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination at Princeton University convened a special Colloquium, “Diplomacy from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush: A Holistic and Proactive Approach” in Triesenberg, Principality of Liechtenstein, April 19-22, 2012. The colloquium brought together over seventy participants, including senior representatives, experts, academics, and civil society representatives from Austria, Azerbaijan, the European Union, Germany, Georgia, France, Iran, Israel, Liechtenstein, Russia, Qatar, Switzerland, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Participants engaged in both plenary and working group discussions about ways to address the four key issues: crisis diploma - cy with Iran; the ongoing crisis in Syria; Afghanistan in transition; and preventing the escalation of crises in this macro region. This was the third LISD-sponsored colloquium on developments in the Mediterranean to Hindu Kush region since the Arab Spring. The colloquium was off the record according to Liechtenstein Colloquium rules, and was financially supported by LISD, The House of Liechtenstein, the Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein, and the SIBIL Stiftung in Vaduz. The Colloquium was chaired by Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, Director of LISD. This chair's summary includes an updated postscript.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, War, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, Middle East, France, Arabia, Germany, Syria, Qatar, Austria
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The two rising powers in the Middle East—Turkey and Iran—are neighbors to Iraq, its leading trading partners, and rapidly becoming the most influential external actors inside the country as the U.S. troop withdrawal proceeds. Although there is concern in Washington about bilateral cooperation between Turkey and Iran, their differing visions for the broader Middle East region are particularly evident in Iraq, where a renewal of the historical Ottoman-Persian rivalry in Mesopotamia is likely as the dominant American presence fades. Turkey aims for a robust Iraqi political process in which no single group dominates, sees a strong Iraq as contributing to both its own security and regional stability, and is actively investing in efforts to expand Iraqi oil and gas production to help meet its own energy needs and fulfill its goal of becoming the energy conduit from the Middle East to Europe. Iran prefers a passive neighbor with an explicitly sectarian political architecture that ensures friendly Shiite-led governments; sees a strong Iraq as an inherent obstacle to its own broader influence in the region and, in the nightmare scenario, once again possibly a direct conventional military threat; and looks askance at increased Iraqi hydrocarbon production as possible competition for its own oil exports. Baghdad meanwhile believes that it can become a leader in the Middle East but is still struggling to define an inclusive national identity and develop a foreign policy based on consensus. In its current fractured state, Iraq tends to invites external interference and is subsumed into the wider regional confrontation between the Sunni Arab defenders of the status quo and the “resistance axis” led by Shiite Iran. Turkey has an opening in Iraq because it is somewhat removed from this toxic Arab-Persian divide, welcomes a strong Iraq, and offers the Iraqi economy integration with international markets. Ankara could now allay Iraqi Shiite suspicions that it intends to act as a Sunni power in the country and not allow issues on which Turkish and Iraqi interests deviate to set the tone for their relationship. The U.S. conceptualization of an increased Turkish influence in Iraq as a balance to Iran's is limited and could undermine Turkey's core advantages by steering it towards a counterproductive sectarian approach. A more productive U.S. understanding is of Turkey as a regional power with the greatest alignment of interests in a strong, stable, and selfsufficient country that the Iraqis want and that the Obama administration has articulated as the goal of its Iraq policy. On the regional level, a strong and stable Iraq is a possible pivot for Turkish and Iranian ambitions, enabling Ankara and hindering Tehran. Washington may well have its differences with Turkey's new foreign policy of zero problems with its neighbors, but the Turkish blend of Islam, democracy, and soft power is a far more attractive regional template than the Iranian narrative of Islamic theocracy and hard power resistance. The United States should therefore continue to welcome increased Turkish-Iraqi economic, trade, and energy ties and where possible support their development as a key part of its post-2011 strategy for Iraq and the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Imperialism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Alistair Harris
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), an offshoot of Osama Bin Laden's terrorist network and a group that has been operating in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, presents a growing regional and international security challenge. Analysis of AQAP confirms that it has been adept at aligning the grievances of Yemeni communities with its own narrative of what is wrong and who is responsible. But AQAP's limited membership shows this has not translated into widespread recruitment because of dissonance between the organization's recommended course of action—violent jihad—and traditional Yemeni methods of seeking redress. Failure to address such grievances, however, runs the risk of increasing receptivity to alternative frameworks that include the use of violence.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sinai Peninsula
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Adam Mausner
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The security arena will face the most drastic changes in U.S.-Iraqi strategic relations over the next two years. Iraq must assume all responsibility for its internal and external security once the United States withdraws by December 31, 2011, unless it invokes the terms of the Strategic Agreement to seek additional US aid. Iraq must both deal with its own insurgents and with problems in its relations with neighboring countries like Iran, Syria, and the Gulf states. This makes the continued improvement of all elements of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) vital both to Iraq and to the stability of the region, during the period of US withdrawal in 2010-2011 and in the years that follow.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Daniel C. Kurtzer
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Lebanon has been a flashpoint for Arab-Israeli violence and military confrontations since the mid1970s. Its political system is weak and outside parties continue to vie for political advantage as part of a larger regional conflict. In particular, Syria and Iran provide support for the militant Islamist group Hezbollah as a strategic asset to pressure Israel. Hezbollah now controls most of southern Lebanon, while its political wing has developed a strong presence in the Lebanese parliament. In July and August 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought what became known as the “Second Lebanon War,” which killed and displaced many thousand s of people and destroyed much of Lebanon's infrastructure. Since then Hezbollah has steadily rearmed in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which requires, inter alia, “the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state” and “no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government.” Hezbollah's arsenal is more potent in quantity and quality today than it was in 2006. Although the border area between Israel and Lebanon is quieter than at any time in the previous decade, speculation that a third Lebanon war will occur in the next twelve to eighteen months has been steadily rising. Israel could decide the security threat posed by Hezbollah has reached intolerable levels and take preemptive military action. Hezbollah, while outwardly showing no interest in confronting Israel at this time, may for various reasons choose or be pressured by Iran to flex its new military capabilities. As happened in 2006, even small-scale military engagements with limited objectives can escalate into a major conflict. Whatever the precipitating reasons, a new conflict over Lebanon would have significant implications for U.S. policy and interests in the region.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, War, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, United Nations, Lebanon, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Much is at stake in the never-ending negotiations to form Iraq's government, but perhaps nothing more important than the future of its security forces. In the seven years since the U.S.-led invasion, these have become more effective and professional and appear capable of taming what remains of the insurgency. But what they seem to possess in capacity they lack in cohesion. A symptom of Iraq's fractured polity and deep ethno-sectarian divides, the army and police remain overly fragmented, their loyalties uncertain, their capacity to withstand a prolonged and more intensive power struggle at the top unclear. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has taken worrying steps to assert authority over the security apparatus, notably by creating new bodies accountable to none but himself. A vital task confronting the nation's political leaders is to reach agreement on an accountable, non-political security apparatus subject to effective oversight. A priority for the new cabinet and parliament will be to implement the decision. And a core responsibility facing the international community is to use all its tools to encourage this to happen.
  • Topic: Security, War, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Nadim Shehadi
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: LEBANON'S RELATIONS WITH Palestinian refugees, one of the most sensitive issues in the country, was put at the forefront of parliamentary and public debates on June 15, 2010, when a series of legislative proposals were presented to re-examine the refugees' legal status and to resolve the issues surrounding their civil rights. It was the culmination of a national discussion that began in 2005, in which a new atmosphere advocating the examination of the refugee issues started to emerge.
  • Topic: War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: Radha Iyengar, Luke N. Condra, Joseph Felter, Jacob N. Shapiro
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC)
  • Abstract: A central question in intrastate conflicts is how insurgents are able to mobilize supporters to participate in violent and risky activities. A common explanation is that violence committed by counterinsurgent forces mobilizes certain segments of the population through a range of mechanisms. We study the effects of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan to quantify the effect of such casualties on subsequent insurgent violence. By comparing uniquely detailed micro-data along temporal, spatial, and gender dimensions we can distinguish short-run 'information' and 'capacity' effects from the longer run 'propaganda' and 'revenge' effects. In Afghanistan we find strong evidence that local exposure to civilian casualties caused by international forces leads to increased insurgent violence over the long-run, what we term the 'revenge' effect. Matching districts with similar past trends in violence shows that counterinsurgent-generated civilian casualties from a typical incident are responsible for 1 additional violent incident in an average sized district in the following 6 weeks and lead to increased violence over the next 6 months. There is no evidence that out-of-area events—errant air strikes for example—lead to increased violence, nor is there evidence of short run effects, thus ruling out the propaganda, information, and capacity mechanisms. Critically, we find no evidence of a similar reaction to civilian casualties in Iraq, suggesting the constraints on insurgent production of violence may be quite conflict-specific. Our results imply that minimizing harm to civilians may indeed help counterinsurgent forces in Afghanistan to reduce insurgent recruitment.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War, Conflict, Violence, War on Terror, Civilians, Casualties
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Successive Israeli governments have held that a nuclear weapons capability in the region, other than Israel's own, would pose an intolerable threat to Israel's survival as a state and society. Iran's nuclear program—widely regarded as an effort to obtain a nuclear weapon, or put Tehran a “turn of a screw” away from it—has triggered serious concern in Israel. Within the coming year, the Israeli government could decide, much as it did twenty-eight years ago with respect to Iraq and two years ago with respect to Syria, to attack Iran's nuclear installations in order to delay its acquisition of a weapons capability.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, War, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Syria
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 31 January, Iraqis will head to the polls in fourteen of eighteen governorates to elect new provincial councils. The stakes are considerable. Whereas the January 2005 elections helped put Iraq on the path to all-out civil war, these polls could represent another, far more peaceful turning point. They will serve several important objectives: refreshing local governance; testing the strength of various parties; and serving as a bellwether for nationwide political trends. In several governorates, new parties or parties that failed to run four years ago may oust, or at least reduce the dominance of, a handful of dominant parties whose rule has been marred by pervasive mismanagement and corruption. This in itself would be a positive change with far-reaching consequences as the nation braces for parliamentary elections later in 2009.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Israel-Hamas war has ended but none of the factors that triggered it have been addressed. Three months after unilateral ceasefires, Gaza's crossings are largely shut; reconstruction and rehabilitation have yet to begin; rockets periodically are fired into Israel; weapons smuggling persists; Corporal Shalit remains captive; and Palestinians are deeply divided. It is not as if the war changed nothing. Many hundreds lost their lives, tens of thousands their livelihood and a new political landscape has emerged. But the war changed nothing for the better. The status quo is unsustainable, and Gaza once again is an explosion waiting to happen. Genuine Palestinian reconciliation and a fully satisfactory arrangement in Gaza may not be on the cards, but lesser steps may be feasible to lessen the risk of escalation, address Gaza's most pressing needs and achieve some inter-Palestinian understanding. That would take far greater flexibility from local actors – and far greater political courage from outside ones.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As sectarian violence in Iraq has ebbed over the past year, a new and potentially just as destructive political conflict has arisen between the federal government and the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil. This conflict has manifested itself in oratory, backroom negotiations and military manoeuvres in disputed territories, raising tensions and setting off alarm bells in Washington just as the Obama administration is taking its first steps to pull back U.S. forces. A lasting solution can only be political – involving a grand bargain on how to divide or share power, resources and territory – but in the interim both sides should take urgent steps to improve communications and security cooperation, run joint military checkpoints and patrols in disputed territories and refrain from unilateral steps along the new, de facto dividing line, the so-called trigger line.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Richard Gowan, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, Daniel Korski
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Relations between the European Union (EU) and Iraq have normalized over the last couple of years. But despite committing more than € 900 million to reconstruction efforts since 2003 and having set up a European Commission office in Baghdad in 2005, the European bloc will need to step up its engagement if the country is to manage forthcoming challenges, such as integrating the “Sons of Iraq” into the Iraqi security forces, holding provincial elections, and maintaining security while President Obama leads a drawdown of US combat forces.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Howard Adelman
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights Human Welfare (University of Denver)
  • Abstract: “I am sure they (the IDF soldiers) committed this crime.” I read these words just after I had finished the first draft of this paper on 1 February 2009. Oakland Ross, the Toronto Star journalist, was quoting Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish who had trained at the Soroka hospital in Beersheba and the Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv. The interview was held at the latter Israeli hospital where another daughter was being treated for her injuries after the IDF opened the Ezer crossing to Gaza in a rare exception and allowed a Palestinian ambulance to meet up with an Israeli ambulance so the injured child could be transferred by IDF helicopter to the hospital. Dr. Abu al-Aish, a gynaecologist at Gaza's main Shifa Hospital, was a peace activist; his children attended peace camps with Israeli children. During the war, he had been heard frequently on Israel's Channel 10 TV station reporting in fluent Hebrew by cell phone via his friend, the Israeli journalist, Shlomi Eldar, to Israelis on the health problems resulting from the war that he had been witnessing in Gaza from his top floor apartment of a five-storey apartment building on Salahadin Street at the corner of Zino Rd. in Jebaliya just north of Gaza City. On Friday, 16 January 2009 less than 36 hours before the ceasefire went into effect in Gaza on Sunday, 18 January 2009, he was on the air when two shells from an Israeli tank parked a block away ploughed through his apartment and killed three of his daughters. 22-year-old Bisan, 15-year-old Mayer, 14-year old Ayan, and his 14-year-old niece, Nour Abu al- Aish.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The top concern for both Riyadh and Damascus remains blowback from Iraq: the ascendance of ethnic and sectarian identity and the spread of Islamist militancy. The need to contain this threat is the dominant force that shapes their relations with Iraq. Both Syria and Saudi Arabia have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq's emerging political order is inclusive of Sunni Arab Iraqis, who have not yet been fully incorporated into Iraqi institutions. Syria and Saudi Arabia do not look at Iraq in isolation, nor do they assign it top priority among their foreign policy concerns. For them, Iraq is merely one element in a comprehensive view encompassing other regional players (including the U.S. and Iran) and other regional crises, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lingering resentment and bitterness toward Washington is now mixed with intense curiosity and modest optimism about President Barack Obama. Saudis still bristle when recalling how the Bush Administration sidelined Riyadh on Iraqi matters; as do Syrians, who believe the previous administration was intent on isolating and undermining Damascus. Iraq remains very much isolated in its neighborhood. Recent Progress on regional cooperation notwithstanding, these two neighbors are still focused more on containment than engagement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • 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: 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
  • Author: Bryan Groves
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Department of Social Sciences at West Point, United States Military Academy
  • Abstract: As President George W. Bush relinquishes the reigns as Commander-in-Chief to President Barak Obama, it is fitting to reflect on how the country will remember President Bush in years to come. Whether or not one agrees with his decision to commit U.S. forces to military action against Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party regime in Iraq, it is clear that Bush's legacy will largly be determined by how Iraq turns out--whether as a stable, free, and peace-loving democracy or something short of that. There is certainly plenty of room for continued improvement in the conditions on the ground and ample time for the political, security, and economic situation to yet deteriorate. Yet, since "The Surge" and the change in U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, developments in Iraq have taken a fundamentally and undeniably positive turn.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Democratization, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The plight of women in Iraq today has gone largely ignored, both within Iraqi society and by the international community. For more than five years, headlines have been dominated by political and social turmoil, the chaos of conflict and widespread violence. This has overshadowed the abysmal state of the civilian population's day-to-day lives, a result of that very turmoil and violence.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: A year after Israel launched its Operation Cast Lead military offensive on Gaza, on 27 December 2008, little of the extensive damage it caused to homes, civilian infrastructure, public services, farms and businesses has been repaired. As thousands of families still come to terms with loss or injury of their loved ones, they are being prevented from rebuilding their shattered society.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, War, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman, Harvey Sapolsky, Christopher Preble
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Foreign policy experts and policy analysts are misreading the lessons of Iraq. The emerging conventional wisdom holds that success could have been achieved in Iraq with more troops, more cooperation among U.S. government agencies, and better counterinsurgency doctrine. To analysts who share these views, Iraq is not an example of what not to do but of how not to do it. Their policy proposals aim to reform the national security bureaucracy so that we will get it right the next time.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Against the odds, the U.S. military surge contributed to a significant reduction in violence. Its achievements should not be understated. But in the absence of the fundamental political changes in Iraq the surge was meant to facilitate, its successes will remain insufficient, fragile and reversible. The ever-more relative lull is an opportunity for the U.S. to focus on two missing ingredients: pressuring the Iraqi government to take long overdue steps toward political compromise and altering the regional climate so that Iraq's neighbours use their leverage to encourage that compromise and make it stick. As shown in these two companion reports, this entails ceasing to provide the Iraqi government with unconditional military support; reaching out to what remains of the insurgency; using its leverage to encourage free and fair provincial elections and progress toward a broad national dialogue and compact; and engaging in real diplomacy with all Iraq's neighbours, Iran and Syria included.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Against the odds, the U.S. military surge contributed to a significant reduction in violence. Its achievements should not be understated. But in the absence of the fundamental political changes in Iraq the surge was meant to facilitate, its successes will remain insufficient, fragile and reversible. The ever-more relative lull is an opportunity for the U.S. to focus on two missing ingredients: pressuring the Iraqi government to take long overdue steps toward political compromise and altering the regional climate so that Iraq's neighbours use their leverage to encourage that compromise and make it stick. As shown in these two companion reports, this entails ceasing to provide the Iraqi government with unconditional military support; reaching out to what remains of the insurgency; using its leverage to encourage free and fair provincial elections and progress toward a broad national dialogue and compact; and engaging in real diplomacy with all Iraq's neighbours, Iran and Syria included.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • 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: Mark G. Czelusta
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Donald Rumsfeld's vision of a transformed United States military has been discussed by many and understood by few. It is no surprise that this lack of understanding has resulted in both significant simplifications and sweeping generalizations, to include the Reuters headline noted above. Even the term, “Rumsfeld's Transformation,” accounts for neither the historical influences that led to his vision, nor the multiple components of this transformational effort.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Joseph Felter, Brian Fishman
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Iran has a robust program to exert influence in Iraq in order to limit American power-projection capability in the Middle East, ensure the Iraqi government does not pose a threat to Iran, and build a reliable platform for projecting influence further abroad. Iran has two primary modes of influence. First, and most importantly, it projects political influence by leveraging close historical relationships with several Shi'a organizations in Iraq: the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), the Badr organization, and the Dawah political party. Second, Iran uses the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Qods Force (QF) to provide aid in the form of paramilitary training, weapons, and equipment to various Iraqi militant groups, including Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) and the Special Group Criminals (SGCs). Iran also projects influence through economic initiatives and various religious programs. Iranian influence in Iraq is inevitable, and some of it is legal and constructive. Nonetheless, Iranian policy in Iraq is also duplicitous. Iran publicly calls for stability while subverting Iraq's government and illegally sponsoring anti‐government militias.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Shai Feldman, Shahram Chubin, Abdulaziz Sager, David L. Aaron
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Middle East and its security remains a vital ingredient in international security. The region's tensions, conflicts and stability are of fundamental concern to a wide range of actors, whose interests or proximity make it a priority. The novelty today is the increasing inter-relations of these conflicts and instability and the limitations of outside power influence. This, together with the appearance of new actors in the region, namely India and China, seems likely to transform diplomacy in the future. Regional dynamics, which are increasingly resistant to outside power influence or control, continue to shape the strategic environment. These dynamic forces, ranging from terrorism, sectarianism, and on-going conflicts, intersect and add to the region's instability and fragmentation. The conflict zone (from the Levant to Iran) overlaps the “energy ellipse” (in the Gulf), that is, the dependence of much of the world on this region for energy supplies. Superimposed on this is the related feature of the region, namely the emergence in the GCC of the 'super rich' states, carving out a new niche and economic identity with their newfound wealth. The region is thus complex: unstable, vulnerable, and wealthy in parts. Weak, shattered, or embryonic states (Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine) co-exist with strong states like Egypt, cautious ones like Saudi Arabia, and ambitious ones, notably Iran. What seems clear from the perspective of 2008 is the continuing need for international engagement, combined with a recognition that this engagement must be constructive and cannot substitute for local initiatives or substitute for local forces, which at best, can only be harnessed, not controlled.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Oil, War
  • Political Geography: China, Iraq, Middle East, India, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt