July 24, 2014

THE SHI’I CRESCENT’S PUSH FOR REGIONAL HEGEMONY AND THE SUNNI REACTION

Hassan Rouhani secured the presidency of Iran with 18 million votes, over 50% of the electorate, running on a campaign of “Hope and Wisdom”

PDF version available here In response to the September 11 attacks, the United States occupied Iraq. Baghdad effectively ended up in the hands of Iran, thus leading to the formation of the Shi’i Crescent. Riyadh has been leading the Sunni crusade to derail the march of Shi’ism. At the same time, to protect its nuclear facilities, Tehran has made Hizballah its Mediterranean defense line and Damascus its arms courier. The existence of an atomic bomb component in Iran’s nuclear … [Read more...]

THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND AL-SHAM

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...]

ASSESSING IRAQ’S OIL INDUSTRY

  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...]

THE ARAB SPRING, ITS EFFECTS ON THE KURDS, AND THE APPROACHES OF TURKEY, IRAN, SYRIA, AND IRAQ ON THE KURDISH ISSUE

  This article addresses the approaches of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq in dealing with the Kurdish issue, with a special focus on historical background. In addition, the article discusses how this issue affects relations among the aforementioned countries and whether cooperation on this issue is possible. The article also examines how the Arab Spring has impacted the Kurds and the attitudes of these countries toward the Kurdish issue.    Click here to download the PDF version of … [Read more...]

Sunni Versus Shia: The Middle East’s New Strategic Conflict

barry-rubin

Of course, conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslims are not at all new, but it is indeed new as a feature on the regional level in modern times. After all, as long as there were secular-style regimes preaching an all-inclusive Arab nationalist identity, differences between religious communities are subordinated. Once there are Islamist regimes, theology becomes central again, as it was centuries ago. However, no one should misunderstand the situation. This is fundamentally a struggle for … [Read more...]

ASSESSING THE SURGE IN IRAQ

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...]

IRAQ IN CRISIS

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...]

Iraq’s New Political Elites: A Dream Come True?

As a result of the war of 2003, Iraq’s regime underwent a complete transformation, which took place literally overnight. In the aftermath, Iraq experienced a dramatic leadership change. As new leaders emerged to replace the displaced dictator, conflicts arose not only between new and old elites but also among the new elites themselves. The clashes have become so brutal that members of these disparate circles were literally being blown up in a continuous cycle of terrorist attacks, … [Read more...]

Building Regional Peace: Iraq and the Kurds

A CHANGING ATMOSPHERE IN BAGHDAD  For 35 years, Israel was a major target for rhetorical, ideological, and military attacks by the Ba'thi regime.[1] Yet with the collapse of the Ba'th and the many changes that have occurred in Iraq, Baghdad’s posture toward Israel has changed significantly. The harsh anti-Israel rhetoric has all but disappeared. Similarly, the vocal and actual commitment to the Palestinian cause has been reduced considerably. These changes were related to various … [Read more...]

The Iran-Iraq War: Unattainable Objectives

The Iran-Iraq War is unique, being much longer and more intense than any previous conventional conflict in the region. A border dispute ballooned into one of the longest conventional wars of the twentieth century.Three factors explain the long duration: military ineptitude, political and ideological motivations, and geopolitical influences. Iraq possessed a large modern military, but its rigid, top-down doctrine, inept leadership, and lackadaisical battlefield performance failed to deliver the … [Read more...]