The United States has engaged in several years of war in Iraq against the Islamic State (IS) since launching Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve in October 2014. The United States estimates that they have killed more than 60,000 IS members, conducted more than 22,000 airstrikes and trained more than 100,000 security forces throughout Iraq. The successful U.S. campaign is in contrast to past operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere and is best encapsulated in the “by, with, and through” approach of letting Iraqis lead operations. This bottom-up approach is tactically successful but is short on strategy, opening the door for Iranian influence in Iraq. The United States is modeling other counterterror operations throughout the world on its Iraq success with other “build partner capacity” programs. Based on two years of fieldwork and interviews, this article examines both the tactical successes and policy implications of the U.S. successes against IS in Iraq.
With ISIS out of the way, underlying tensions have come to the surface. On Sunday October 15, the Pentagon encouraged Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga to “avoid escalatory actions,” as Iraq gave the Kurds an ultimatum to withdraw from areas around the city of Kirkuk. The United States said it opposed […]
Kurdistan Regional Government president Masoud Barzani announced on June 7 that the region had set September 25 as the date for a referendum on independence. He was joined by members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Kurdistan Islamic Union, Kurdistan Islamic Movement and other small parties, including those representing Assyrian and […]
Click here for PDF Six years after protests toppled Husni Mubarak, Egypt is still struggling with the aftermath of the “Arab Spring” and the chaos it unleashed. The removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013 and Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi’s ascension to the presidency is sometimes seen as returning Egypt to its pre-2011 political […]
On May 29, the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a group of Shia militias that are part of the Iraqi government’s security forces, reached the Iraq-Syria border. Straddling this strategic corridor in northern Iraq, which stretches east to Mosul and then south to Baghdad, allows the militias to dictate Iraq’s future war aims […]
In this conversation on the future of the Middle East after the Islamic State (IS), we bring together experts to debate the prospects for reconstruction and governance in IS-held territory, the future of the Jihadi movement, how to mitigate against the return of IS fighters, and the future regional security framework. We ask the experts […]