On April 10, 2015, the Pentagon released its map of the self-proclaimed Islamic State's operations in Iraq and Syria. The map also marks areas controlled by other groups in the region, such as Iraqi Kurdish security forces, Iraqi Government, and Syrian Government.
Writing in the International New York Times, John Bellinger argues that referral of war crimes of the so-called Islamic State is far from a futile gesture. Such international arbitration, he notes, will simplify prosecution in the event that Islamic State leaders are captured alive.
The Taliban has outlasted the world’s most potent military forces and its two main factions now challenge the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. As U.S. troops draw down, the next phase of conflict will have consequences that extend far beyond the region.
Tunisia was struck by a terrible act of terrorism today: gunmen, presumably of Islamist persuasion, stormed the Bardo museum in the capital, Tunis, killing tourists indiscriminately. Early news accounts suggest that at least 19 people were killed before security forces stormed the building and killed the terrorists.
Writing in Foreign Policy, Emerson Brooking argues that, given ISIS’ strategically significant use of social media for recruiting and messaging, any comprehensive plan to defeat the terror network must also neutralize its online presence. He proposes the creation of a bounty system that would pay hacktivists in anonymized Bitcoin to flag ISIS social media accounts and disrupt its websites.
John Campbell, CFR’s Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies, discusses the political and security implications of Nigeria’s Independent National Elections Commission’s decision to postpone the February 14, 2015 presidential elections until March 28, 2015, as part of CFR's Academic Conference Call series.
ISIS may use terrorism as a tactic, but it is not a terrorist organization. Rather, it is a pseudo-state led by a conventional army. So the counterterrorism strategies that were useful against al Qaeda won’t work in the fight against ISIS.
One day, historians will have their hands full debating the causes of the chaos now overtaking much of the Middle East. To what extent, they will ask, was it the inevitable result of deep flaws common to many of the region's societies and political systems, and to what extent did it stem from what outside countries chose to do (or not to do)?
The Obama administration will be tempted to take a victory lap because of recent news that Kurdish militiamen have regained control of Kobani, a Syrian town near the border with Turkey. ISIS forces that had been attacking it for months have melted away. This is, to be sure, a nice achievement, but its wider significance is limited.
Counterterrorism strategies of the past thirteen years have relied upon a myth of 9/11: terrorists require safe havens to conduct international terrorist attacks. Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf argue that there is no evidence to support this assumption, which most recently served as the basis for launching a war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.