The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken on an international flavor as foreign fighters continue to pour into Syria and Iraq from eighty nations as disparate as Kyrgyzstan and Spain. The number of foreign fighters is currently estimated to be as high as 16,000.
Senior administration officials have discussed the possibility of placing North Korea on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list after the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Micah Zenko argues that North Korea is not a state-sponsor of terrorism and “rather than misapplying this outdated punishment against countries that the United States has non-terrorism-related disagreements with, an entirely new designation is necessary.”
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon discusses U.S. policy in the fight against ISIS, questioning whether the focus on strengthening Baghdad first can work when the source of the problem, ISIS, is headquartered in Syria.
Following the Pakistani Taliban's attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, CFR Senior Fellow Daniel Markey and Adjunct Senior Fellow Farah Pandith discuss the event itself, the Taliban, the Pakistani political scene, the attack's likely implications, and how this might relate to U.S. policy.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes that while the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, is horrific in scale, it is but the latest in a trend of terrorist attacks targeting schools, students, and teachers across the globe.
Although the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are far from the costliest the United States has ever fought in terms of either blood or treasure, they have exacted a much greater toll than the relatively bloodless wars Americans had gotten used to fighting in the 1990s.
On May 24, 2014, a man opened fire inside the Jewish Museum in Brussels, quickly killing three people and fatally wounding a fourth before disappearing into the city’s streets. The alleged perpetrator, a French citizen named Mehdi Nemmouche, who has since been arrested and charged with murder, had spent the previous year fighting with jihadist opposition groups in Syria.
The Senate Intelligence Committee began investigating the use of torture by the CIA to obtain information from detainees about terrorist plots. Their study was completed in December 2012 and was released December 9, 2014, after the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee debated how much information should be released. The CIA released its redacted June 2013 response to the study and the Director of the CIA John Brennan gave a new statement on December 9, 2014. The CIA also prepared a fact sheet on the history of the program and its responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee's main findings.
The Senate Intelligence Committee began investigating the use of torture by the CIA to obtain information from detainees about terrorist plots. The report covers the history of the interrogation program, the value of information obtained from torture techniques, and the CIA's and other government officials public statements about the "enhanced interrogation" program. The Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the torture program was ineffective and that some techniques were harsher than admitted previously. The report was completed in December 2012 and was released December 9, 2014, after the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee debated how much information should be released. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who led the investigation, stated that the classified, unredacted version of the report could be released later if necessary. The CIA released its own fact sheet and response.
Iraq Conflict: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Research Links provide news, analyses, background, U.S. government reports, costs and number of deaths, ISIS funding, and more on the current conflict surrounding ISIS in Iraq.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes that the Obama administration’s lack of clear strategy in combating ISIS and its misunderstanding of ISIS’ appeal have kept the United States from making real progress in the conflict in Syria.
The United States has now conducted 500 targeted killings, which have killed an estimated 3,674 people, including 473 civilians. However, as Micah Zenko points out, these operations have not diminished the size of targeted terrorist groups.
The threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is being overblown to a dangerous and untruthful degree by U.S. government officials, who are getting away with it without question. Micah Zenko argues that U.S. officials must envision America’s enemies “more accurately and honestly.”
John Campbell, Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies, evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, CFR Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams details the United States' goals in Iraq and Syria: to alleviate the humanitarian and refugee crisis; to prevent an Iranian victory in Syria; and to strike devastating blows at the Islamic State.
President Obama’s strategy in Syria and Iraq is not working. The president is hoping that limited airstrikes, combined with U.S. support for local proxies, will “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State.
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Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Koblentz argues that the United States should work with other nuclear-armed states to manage threats to nuclear stability in the near term and establish processes for multilateral arms control efforts over the longer term.
The authors argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones, thereby creating standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »