Middle East and North Africa

Foreign Affairs Article

Digital Counterinsurgency: How to Marginalize the Islamic State Online

Author: Jared Cohen

The Islamic State, or ISIS, is the first terrorist group to hold both physical and digital territory: in addition to the swaths of land it controls in Iraq and Syria, it dominates pockets of the Internet with relative impunity. But it will hardly be the last. Although there are still some fringe terrorist groups in the western Sahel or other rural areas that do not supplement their violence digitally, it is only a matter of time before they also go online.

See more in Syria; Global; Cybersecurity; Counterterrorism

Foreign Affairs Article

Iran's ISIS Trap

Authors: Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht

The Islamic Republic of Iran has no real intention to defeat the self-proclaimed Islamic State, argues CFR’s Ray Takeyh with coauthor Reuel Marc Gerecht. The Islamic State’s exacerbation of sectarian divisions is advantageous to Iran as it continues to manipulate Sunni-Shiite relations to extend its power and help its allies.

See more in Iran; Terrorist Organizations and Networks

Foreign Affairs Article

Bridging the Gulf

Authors: Ilan Goldenberg and Melissa G. Dalton

The events of the past five years have put an intense strain on the relationship between the United States and its traditional partners in the Arab world, particularly the countries that belong to the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

See more in United States; Middle East and North Africa; Weapons of Mass Destruction

Foreign Affairs Article

Obama and the Middle East

Author: Marc Lynch

Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Middle East strategy often complain that Obama lacks a strategic vision. This is almost exactly wrong. Obama came to office with a conviction that reducing the United States’ massive military and political investment in the Middle East was a vital national security interest in its own right.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; International Organizations and Alliances

Foreign Affairs Article

The Death and Life of the Two-State Solution

Authors: Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon

On March 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won reelection, thanks in part to a desperate last-minute pledge to his right-wing base that the Palestinians would never get a state so long as he was in power. After the election, he tried to walk his comments back, but Palestinian observers weren’t buying it. 

See more in Palestine; Wars and Warfare

Foreign Affairs Article

From Calvin to the Caliphate

Author: John M. Owen, IV

Nearly a century after it first emerged in Egypt, political Islam is redefining the Muslim world. Also called Islamism, this potent ideology holds that the billion-strong global Muslim community would be free and great if only it were pious—that is, if Muslims lived under state-enforced Islamic law, or sharia, as they have done for most of Islamic history.

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Europe; Religion

Foreign Affairs Article

Who Lost Libya?

Authors: Derek H. Chollet and Ben Fishman

A close call. It is tempting to view the chaos in Libya today as yet one more demonstration of the futility of U.S.-led military interventions. That is precisely the case that Alan Kuperman makes in his article (“Obama’s Libya Debacle,” March/April 2015), which asserts that NATO’s 2011 intervention in Libya was “an abject failure” that set free Libya’s vast conventional weapons stockpiles, gave rise to extremist groups, and even exacerbated the conflict in Syria.

See more in Libya; NATO