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.