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 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.
Click here for PDF version Iraqi Shi’i leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s July 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia is evidence of a paradigmatic shift in Saudi policy. Aware that the Shi’a comprise the majority in Iraq, the kingdom appears to be abandoning its previous sectarian stance and is reaching out to the Shi’a population there. The Saudis […]
Click here for PDF This paper is based on reporting trips undertaken by the author in March and April 2017 to Mosul city in Iraq and some surrounding areas, in particular on the left bank of the Tigris River (i.e. east Mosul). These trips focused on the current situation in general as well as comparisons […]
The defeat of the Islamic State coincides with the emergence of a series of crises for the Kurdistan region of Iraq that were postponed by the arrival of the fight against Islamic State extremists. These problems include territory disputes between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad, internal rivalries between Kurdish factions, internal controversies over independence, Iranian and Turkish pressures, an economic crisis, and the…