The Islamic State having lost its entire caliphate, save for a few strips of land in southern and eastern Syria, does not mean it is on the verge of defeat. Instead, it has learned the lesson from its predecessor, the Islamic State of Iraq. In 2010, the latter found itself all but defeated and thus […]
The Kurdistan region’s decision to hold an independence referendum on September 25, 2017, created a new area of conflict in the Middle East. The international players and countries in the region fear that Iraqi Kurdish independence could fuel increased calls for separatism or irredentist activity that would create further instability in the region. China’s position toward the Kurdish question is complex. On the one hand, it maintains cordial diplomatic and commercial ties with the Kurds. On the other hand, it opposes a unilateral Kurdish declaration of independence, and would support an independent Kurdish state only if it obtained the consent of the countries in the region. In any case, the Kurdish question presents a dilemma for China’s foreign policy in the Middle East.
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.
The October 2017 clashes between Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the disputed territories of the Kurdistan Region led to the loss of territories previously controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga, including the city of Kirkuk and Sinjar. This article will discuss the various factions of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) as well as the internal dispute between the PUK and KDP. It will also identify possible scenarios for each disputed area. Last, the wider conflict between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Region will be addressed. The intertwining of these various political, diplomatic, and military conflicts has brought severe impediments to the Kurdistan Region after the Kurdish independence referendum process. The article concludes that a federal solution with a strong judicial arrangement is the optimal scenario.
In 1400 AH (1979/80 CE), a new Muslim apocalyptic millennial movement began and has since gained great momentum. Caliphaters are defined by their millennial goal–world conquest–and the apocalyptic timetable–in this generation; they operate on two major registers: kinetic war (jihad) and cognitive war (da’wa). The movement expanded greatly at the turn of the Western millennium (2000 CE), with the Western news media’s coverage of the “second intifada” (opening round of jihadi war on Western democracies), the U.S. response to September 11. These empowered da’wa campaigns designed to pressure Western infidels into the posture of dhimmi.
This article demonstrates “circuitous but intended outcomes”–or the desirable consequences accurately anticipated and predicted by the actors involved at the moment the act is carried out–in the case of the October 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and Egypt. This case provides a strong illustration of how an actor who wages war can circuitously achieve political goals despite suffering military defeat on the battleground. Egypt’s President Anwar al-Sadat astonishingly predicted the indirect results of the war he initiated. Sadat forecast that Egypt needed a spark–“crossing the canal and capturing just ten centimeters of Sinai”–which would trigger the involvement of much more powerful forces, such as the superpowers–and the United States in particular–leading them to successfully compel Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt’s desired goal.