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  • Author: Dr. W. Andrew Terill
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In an unexpected effort to protect a key Middle Eastern ally, the Kremlin intervened in Syria with military forces in late September 2015. This effort was undertaken to protect the Bashar Assad regime from Islamist and secular rebels now threatening his regime. Moscow initiated this action with a limited force that may be primarily designed to prevent Assad’s ouster but does not have the capabilities to help him retake large tracks of the country from the rebel groups that are now holding them. The Russian leadership made the decision to use military units in Syria at some political cost, aware that it was poisoning relations with many conservative anti-Assad Arabs and complicating its troubled relationship with Western powers.1 At some point, the Russians will have to consider the questions of how well these efforts have met their goal of bolstering the regime and what will be their next moves. They may also be rapidly faced with pressure to escalate their commitment to support the regime, if current actions do not produce meaningful results. They may also learn the painful lesson of other great powers, that military intervention in the Middle East is often much more problematic than national leaders initially expect.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Islam, Politics, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Dr. Steve Tatham, Keir Giles
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Experience from Afghanistan and Iraq has demonstrated the vital nature of understanding human terrain, with conclusions relevant far beyond counterinsurgency operations in the Islamic world. Any situation where adversary actions are described as “irrational” demonstrates a fundamental failure in understanding the human dimension of the conflict. It follows that where states and their leaders act in a manner which in the U.S. is perceived as irrational, this too betrays a lack of human knowledge. This monograph offers principles for operating in the human domain which can be extended to consideration of other actors which are adversarial to the United States, and whose decision-making calculus sits in a different framework to our own — including such major states as Russia and China. This monograph argues that the human dimension has become more, not less, important in recent conflicts and that for all the rise in technology future conflicts will be as much defined by the participants’ understanding of culture, behavior, and language as by mastery of technology.
  • Topic: Islam, Science and Technology, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Dr. W. Andrew Terill
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Syrian civil war began in March 2011 and has claimed nearly 250,000 lives so far. After over 4 years of internal fighting, the Kremlin has decided to expand its role in this conflict by moving combat aircraft and some ground troops to Syria to support the Bashar al-Assad government. These actions seem like a clear prelude to a direct Russian combat role, although the scope of such an effort is not yet clear. It has started with a limited number of air strikes against the opposition forces fighting Assad. Additionally, Russia is providing the Syrian army with new weapons supplies which that army seems to be absorbing very quickly. The United States has expressed concern about the deployment and is facing the question of how seriously it seeks to oppose increased Russian involvement in this war, and what, if anything, to do about it.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Islam, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, Syria
  • Author: Richard Weitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Until a few years ago, the relationship between Washington, DC, and Ankara, Turkey, was perennially troubled and occasionally terrible. Turks strongly opposed the U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq and have subsequently complained that the Pentagon was allowing Iraqi Kurds too much autonomy, leading to deteriorating security along the Iraq-Turkey border. Disagreements over how to respond to Iran's nuclear program, U.S. suspicions regarding Turkey's outreach efforts to Iran and Syria, and differences over Armenia, Palestinians, and the Black Sea further strained ties and contributed to further anti Americanism in Turkey. Now Turkey is seen as responding to its local challenges by moving closer to the West, leading to the advent of a “Golden Era” in Turkish U.S. relations. Barack Obama has called the U.S.-Turkish relationship a “model partnership” and Turkey “a critical ally.” Explanations abound as to why U.S.-Turkey ties have improved during the last few years. The U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq removed a source of tension and gave Turkey a greater incentive to cooperate with Washington to influence developments in Iraq. Furthermore, the Arab Awakening led both countries to partner in support of the positive agenda of promoting democracy and security in the Middle East. Americans and Turks both want to see democratic secular governments in the region rather than religiously sanctioned authoritarian ones. Setbacks in Turkey's reconciliation efforts with Syria, Iran, and other countries led Ankara to realize that having good relations with the United States helps it achieve core goals in the Middle East and beyond. Even though Turkey's role as a provider of security and stability in the region is weakened as a result of the recent developments in Syria and the ensuing negative consequences in its relations to other countries, Turkey has the capacity to recover and resume its position. Partnering with the United States is not always ideal, but recent setbacks have persuaded Turkey's leaders that they need to backstop their new economic strength and cultural attractiveness with the kind of hard power that is most readily available to the United States. For a partnership between Turkey and the United States to endure, however, Turkey must adopt more of a collective transatlantic perspective, crack down harder on terrorist activities, and resolve a domestic democratic deficit. At the same time, Europeans should show more flexibility meeting Turkey's security concerns regarding the European Union, while the United States should adopt a more proactive policy toward resolving potential sources of tensions between Ankara and Washington that could significantly worsen at any time.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammed El-Katiri
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As part of the radical political changes that have affected a number of Arab countries over the past 4 years, the toppling of regimes and the organization of the first fair and free elections in several Arab states have allowed Islamist parties to rise to power. This highly visible political trend has caused mixed reactions, both within these countries and internationally. Prior to the Arab Spring, most countries in the region banned Islamist movements from forming political parties. For decades, members of such movements were jailed, tortured, and exiled from their home countries. Even in those states where Islamist political parties were allowed, they had limited freedom and were under the scrutiny of the regimes, as was, for example, the Moroccan Justice and Development Party.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Henry Plater-Zyberk
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Terrorism is a blight that has affected Russia for almost 2 decades. Since the early-1990s, the North Caucasus has been ravaged by small-scale attacks such as pinpoint assassinations and kidnappings, up to large scale attacks on communities—most vividly illustrated by the attack on Beslan in 2004, which killed hundreds, the majority of whom were children. Attacks have emphasized both casualties and the disruption of authority by attacking not just prominent civic leaders, religious leaders, and military personnel in both blunt and sophisticated ways, but also the civilian population. Although the Chechen Republic was the center of this problem for many years, it has spread into neighboring regions and beyond. Outside of Chechen, terrorists have attacked Russian transport networks—including bombing aircraft and airports, such as the Domodedovo attack in 2011, and also attacking trains. Attacks have also been conducted in Moscow itself, again vividly illustrated by the attacks on the Nord-Ost theatre in 2002.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Paul Kamolnick
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Disrupting, dismantling, and ultimately defeating al-Qaeda-based, affiliated, and inspired terrorism is the declared policy of the U.S. Government (USG). Despite noteworthy success in attacking the al-Qaeda (AQ) terrorist network and securing the homeland from terrorist attack, the United States has yet to execute an effective methodology for countering radicalization and recruitment to AQ. This monograph proposes a distinct War of Deeds methodology for accomplishing this.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jean-loup Samaan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: For 7 years now, the border area between Israel and Lebanon has witnessed calm and stability. At first sight, this has all the appearances of a paradox. The 2006 war between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Lebanese organization, Hezbollah, was followed neither by a peace agreement nor by a mere diplomatic process. Both sides prepared their forces to wage the next war and additionally have been confronted in past years to major changes in the distribution of power in the Middle East in the midst of the so-called “Arab Spring.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Leslie S. Lebl
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Bosnia-Herzegovina, once thought to be on the way to joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), is instead falling behind, mired in political bickering, economic stalemate, and governmental dysfunction. In this difficult situation, Islamism poses a significant threat to Bosnia's fragile domestic stability. Although the levels of Islamist terrorism and separatist movements are comparable to those elsewhere in Europe, they are particularly troublesome in Bosnia for two reasons. First, senior political and religious Bosniak (Muslim) leaders have long-standing ties to the Muslim Brother - hood and Islamist terrorism, including al-Qaeda and Iran, that they are very reluctant to abandon. Second, Islamism contributes significantly to Bosnia's dysfunction as a country. Calls to re-impose traditional Islamic law, or sharia, arouse opposition from Bosnian Serbs and Croats, as does the nostalgia for the Otto-man Empire and Islamic Caliphate shared by key Bosniak leaders, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Turkish government.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Islam, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina
  • Author: Jonathan N. C. Hill
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In light of the ongoing threats issued by Al Qaeda against the United States and its allies, the need to prevent the radicalization of young Muslim men and women remains as pressing as ever. Perhaps nowhere is this task more urgent than in the countries of West Africa. The global expanse of the ongoing war on terror places these territories in the frontline. With large Muslim populations that have hitherto remained mostly impervious to the advances of Islamism, the challenge now confronting the Nigerian government and the international community is ensuring that this remains the case. But in recent years, Islamist groups have been highly active in the region. The aim of this monograph is to assess the potential of Nigeria's Sufi Brotherhoods to act, both individually and collectively, as a force for counter-radicalization, to prevent young people from joining Islamist groups.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, West Africa, Nigeria