Shia Militias, Sectarianism & Sovereignty in Iraq

In recent months there has been an important shift in American strategic thinking about Iraq, with key government officials and analysts arguing that Shiite militias are displacing the Islamic State as the most serious threat to Iraqi stability. In January 2015, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that increased Iranian influence Read more about Shia Militias, Sectarianism & Sovereignty in Iraq[…]

Maintaining the Status Quo ≠ Advancing U.S. National Interests

In the wake of the nuclear parameters framework agreement, the Obama administration is facing criticism for mishandling American relations with countries in the Arab world. As David Rothkopf argues in Foreign Policy, “although [Obama] raised hopes of a new, better era in regional relations…ultimately, his only real efforts to change relations ‘for the better’ in Read more about Maintaining the Status Quo ≠ Advancing U.S. National Interests[…]

Dear Iraqi Government: Punishing Civilians Hurts Everyone but ISIS.

According to an analysis of province-level electricity usage by Andrew Shaver, the Iraqi government may have drastically reduced the provision of power to areas controlled by ISIS. He finds that within the “three provinces most affected by the Islamic State — Anbar, Ninewa, and Salah-al-Din — the organization’s arrival has been marked by massive reductions Read more about Dear Iraqi Government: Punishing Civilians Hurts Everyone but ISIS.[…]

Why Mideast Elections Are Overrated and Often Counterproductive

In his 1997 piece “Was a Democracy Just a Moment?” Robert Kaplan predicted that like Christianity, democracy would not create a more moral or peaceful world, but rather, a more complex one. Right now the erstwhile young democracies of Pakistan and Afghanistan are finding this out the hard way. In Pakistan, the past three months Read more about Why Mideast Elections Are Overrated and Often Counterproductive[…]

Barbarians at the Gate: ISIS, Al-Qaeda and India

On September 3rd, Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda Central (AQC) announced the establishment of a new branch: al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Zawahiri, often described as “long on words and short on charm”  delivered a characteristically ambling and inchoate message. He explained how the new group was the “blessed result”  of Read more about Barbarians at the Gate: ISIS, Al-Qaeda and India[…]

The Syrian Conflict – An Unnatural Resource

Participation in the Syrian Conflict, albeit token, provides the Tehrik-i-Taliban with important symbolic and material resources. Crisis creates opportunity. The chronic instability, governance vacuums, and bitter fighting characterizing large swaths of Syria has provided some Islamist militant groups a highly-public platform to reap the spoils of conflict. The participation of groups like the Islamic State of Read more about The Syrian Conflict – An Unnatural Resource[…]