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  • Author: Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Anbar is not the only front in Iraq on which Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), now operating as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), is fighting in 2014. ISIS has also established a governorate in Diyala. Its spokesman has named the province the central front in the sectarian conflict he has urged. The security situation and sectarian tension in Diyala province are grave. ISIS has returned to fixed fighting positions within Muqdadiyah, Baqubah, and the Diyala River Valley. Shi'a militias are now active in these areas as well. Increasing instances of population displacement demonstrate the aggregate effect of targeted violence by both groups. It is important to estimate the effects of this displacement and the presence of armed groups within Diyala's major cities in order to understand how deteriorated security conditions in this province will interfere with Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections. Furthermore, violence in Diyala has historically both driven and reflected inter-ethnic and inter-sectarian violence in other mixed areas of Iraq, including Baghdad. Diyala is therefore a significant bellwether for how quickly these types of violence will spread to other provinces.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Charles C. Caris, Samuel Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Islamic State's June 2014 announcement of a “caliphate” is not empty rhetoric. In fact, the idea of the caliphate that rests within a controlled territory is a core part of ISIS's political vision. The ISIS grand strategy to realize this vision involves first establishing control of terrain through military conquest and then reinforcing this control through governance. This grand strategy proceeds in phases that have been laid out by ISIS itself in its publications, and elaborates a vision that it hopes will attract both fighters and citizens to its nascent state. The declaration of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, however, raises the question: can ISIS govern?
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The political participation of the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq is critical to the security and stability of the state. At present, they are functionally excluded from government, with those that do participate coopted by the increasingly authoritarian Shi'a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Without effective political representation, the Sunni in Iraq are left with few alternatives to address their grievances against the Maliki government. The important decisions lie ahead on whether to pursue their goals via political compromise, federalism, or insurgency.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Insurgency, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the political, religious, and military resurgence of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces, identifying the group's key actors, their present disposition and strategy, and their regional expansion. AAH is an Iranian-backed Shi'a militant group that split from Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) in 2006. Since that time, AAH has conducted thousands of lethal explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, targeted kidnappings of Westerners, rocket and mortar attacks on the U.S. Embassy, the murder of American soldiers, and the assassination of Iraqi officials.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Farook Ahmed
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The United States' Joint Campaign Plan for Iraq has laid out a goal to achieve security in Baghdad and other critical parts of Iraq by the summer of 2008 and then extend a self-sustaining security environment to the rest of the country by the summer of 2009. To that end, the United States surged its combat troops and changed to a counter-insurgency strategy that focused on providing population security. This coincided with an opportunity provided by the discontent Iraq's Sunni Arab population felt towards al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) militants and their draconian rule. The United States took advantage of the situation by striking political deals with the disaffected local populations, most of whom are Sunni Arab.
  • Topic: Security, Military Strategy, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Kimberly Kagan, Marisa Cochrane, Eric Hamilton, Farook Ahmed, Andrea So, Wesley Morgan
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Operations by Coalition and Iraqi Forces throughout 2007 have transformed the security situation in Iraq. Violence decreased dramatically in the second half of 2007. The number of enemy attacks in Iraq, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians, and the number of murders in Baghdad, dropped to levels last seen in early 2006. The mission shift to an aggressive counterinsurgency strategy, with an emphasis on population security, which occurred in January 2007, solidified these gains more quickly than many had predicted. Unexpected developments, like the emergence of Awakening movements and the unilateral Sadrist ceasefire, further helped to accelerate the ground level improvements in security. By late 2007, Al-Qaeda in Iraq had been defeated in Anbar, and its network and safe havens in Baghdad and the belts were largely disrupted. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been steadily pushed north, into isolated pockets, often far from population centers. Coalition Forces have also aggressively targeted Shi'a militia extremists and Iranian-backed Special Groups, with encouraging results.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Eric Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: In the last year Coalition and Iraqi Forces and local Iraqi citizens made significant progress fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). AQI was cleared from former areas of operation like Anbar and Baghdad and the organization became fragmented with its freedom of movement and ability to conduct operations reduced. Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-Iraq) recently released a series of maps illustrating these developments. These maps are presented and explained in this Backgrounder.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Marisa Cochrane
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Rusafa security district provides an interesting look at a complex Baghdad neighborhood with strategic significance and changing demographics; it is an area in which U.S. and Iraqi forces have sought to revive and stabilize the political and economic life, while combating extreme violence caused by Jaysh al-Madhi (JAM) militias and al-Qaeda insurgents. Rusafa is a mix of large markets, government ministries, bus stations, educational institutions such as Mustansiriya University, hotels, hospitals, and the Rule of Law Green Zone. Yet, the district has also been plagued by sectarian violence and deadly car bombs, which often target Rusafa's markets and bus stations.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Struggle, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Patrick Gaughen
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq, has argued that even as security improves in Baghdad, neighborhoods on the fault lines between the Shia and Sunni communities will be among the "last to settle." The neighborhood of Saydiyah, located in southwestern Baghdad, is such a place. Over the last year, it has become one of the principal battlegrounds for the territorial war between Shia militias and Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in Baghdad. Located in the western end of the Rashid Security District, Saydiyah was formerly a mixed neighborhood, with a Sunni majority. Prior to the invasion in 2003, many officials in Saddam's government lived in the area, and following the outbreak of the war, it became a stronghold for the Sunni insurgency. Although Al-Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent factions initially cooperated in Saydiyah, it appears that Al-Qaeda slowly pushed out the other Sunni groups, while simultaneously intensifying violence against the Shia residents of the neighborhood. The reaction from Shia militias and Shia-dominated government security forces led to extraordinary violence during the summer of 2007. US forces have sponsored an Awakening group in the Sunni community to protect them from Shia predation and remove the need for Al-Qaeda's protection services. They have also worked to sponsor sectarian reconciliation through local notables and tribal elements, but it appears that these efforts have not yielded the kinds of success witnessed further to the south in Mahmudiyah, or the Abu Disheer - Hawr Rajab area.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq