October 21, 2014

The National Ideological Resistance in Syria: A ‘Syrian Hezbollah’ Brand


Hezbollah's participation in the Syrian civil war in support of the Assad regime is well-known, most notably in the captures of Qusayr in Homs province in May 2013 and Yabroud in Damascus province in March 2014. Considerably less attention has been given though to the emergence of native brands, which, if not actually set up by Hezbollah, are nonetheless identical in ideology and messaging. "The National Ideological Resistance in Syria" (NIR. Arabic: al-muqawama al-wataniya al-'aqa'idiya fi … [Read more...]

Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen: Support for the Islamic State


Intro and Analysis The Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen [more fully, Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen in the Environs of Bayt al-Maqdis], a Gaza-Sinai jihadi group and opponent of the Hamas government in Gaza, had previously come out in support of the Islamic State's [IS] predecessor ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and ash-Sham) in February of this year, defending ISIS' supposed right to 'self-defence' in the face of fighting with rebel groups in Syria. This reflected a wider trend ofsympathy for ISIS in … [Read more...]


Kata’ib al-Hamza fighters reported to be in Haditha.

PDF version available here Spearheaded by the Islamic State (IS), a renewed Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq has wrestled control of most localities in the Anbar, Ninawa, Salah ad-Din and Kirkuk governorates away from the central government over the course of 2014. While the question of exactly who controls what is still a matter of debate, it has become clear that IS has asserted its own authority at the expense of other factions in the main cities and towns, including Mosul, Tikrit and … [Read more...]


Photo of a Jama’at Jund al-Sham fighter holding a flag of the group

PDF version available here This article examines the rise of the al-Qa’ida-aligned group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) since its announcement in April 2013 until September 2013. It focuses in particular on its military operations and its relations with other rebel groups. The article concludes by examining what the future holds for ISIS on the whole.   INTRODUCTION: THE IDEOLOGY   The group under consideration in this paper--like al-Qa’ida … [Read more...]


This article discusses general trends as regards violence in Iraq as well as the important question of the total number of violent civilian deaths since 2003. In addition, the operations of active militant groups and exacerbating factors for violence are examined.   DATA GATHERING ON VIOLENCE When it comes to statistics on violence in Iraq, there are a number of sources one can use for information, including the “Iraq Body Count” (IBC), the Iraqi government, and the United Nations. The … [Read more...]


  This article provides an overview of Iraq’s oil and gas industry, focusing in particular on its history since 2003 under the Coalition Provisional Authority and the sovereign Iraqi government. It also examines the relationship between the development of natural gas reserves and local autonomy, as well as the controversy surrounding ExxonMobil’s dealings with the Kurdistan Regional Government. Finally, the article considers how the oil and gas industry relates to the wider economy … [Read more...]


This article discusses the 2006/2007 U.S. troop surge in Iraq. It examines to what extent the shift in strategy was responsible for the dramatic drop in violence as well as the implications for U.S. strategy in future conflicts. This article can be found in PDF version here.   INTRODUCTION   Adopted at the end of 2006--by far Iraq’s bloodiest year--the troop “surge” marked a major shift in the George W. Bush administration’s Iraq strategy. Indeed, the Iraq Body Count … [Read more...]


In the spring of 2011, Iraq witnessed major protests across the country. This article will address the causes of these demonstrations. It will also discuss the obstacles toward forming a stable government and the nature of sectarianism and corruption in the government. Last, it considers the implications for U.S. policy, particularly concerning the December 2011 withdrawal deadline.   INTRODUCTION: AN OVERVIEW OF THE PROTESTS IN IRAQ   As part of what has been widely dubbed … [Read more...]