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  • Author: Anthony H Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The events in Iraq over the last month have shown that any success in Iraq requires both the Iraqi government and the United States to go far beyond the war against ISIS, and makes any partisan debate over who lost Iraq as damaging to U.S. national interests as any other aspect of America’s drift toward partisan extremism. The war against ISIS is a critical U.S. national security interest. It not only threatens to create a major center of terrorism and extremism in a critical part of the Middle East, and one that could spread to threaten the flow of energy exports and the global economy, but could become a major center of international terrorism. It is important to understand, however, that ISIS is only one cause of instability in the region, and only one of the threats caused by spreading sectarian and ethnic violence.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The waterways of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) are among the most important in the world. They facilitate the export of large volumes of oil and natural gas from the region, while also bridging traders in the Eastern and Western worlds through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. While political tensions in the region have at times played out in these waterways since the mid-20th century, their vulnerability has been exasperated in recent years by the failure of bordering governments to promote internal stability, the lack of adequate maritime security capabilities of nearby states, and the potential naval threats posed by the government of Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, International Security, Military Strategy, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US faces major challenges in dealing with Iran, the threat of terrorism, and the tide of political instability in the Arabian Peninsula. The presence of some of the world's largest reserves of oil and natural gas, vital shipping lanes, and Shia populations throughout the region have made the peninsula the focal point of US and Iranian strategic competition. Moreover, large youth populations, high unemployment rates, and political systems with highly centralized power bases have posed other economic, political, and security challenges that the GCC states must address, and which the US must take into consideration when forming strategy and policy. An updated study by the CSIS Burke Chair explores US and Iranian interests in the region, Gulf state and GCC policies toward both the US and Iran, and potential flash-points and vulnerabilities in the Gulf to enhanced competition with Iran. This study examines the growing US security partnership with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – established as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It analyzes the steady growth in this partnership that has led to over $64 billion in new US arms transfer agreements during 2008-2011. It also examines the strengths and weaknesses of the security cooperation between the southern Gulf states, and their relative level of political, social, and economic stability. The study focuses on the need for enhanced unity and security cooperation between the individual Gulf states. It finds that such progress is critical if they are to provide effective deterrence and defense against Iran, improve their counterterrorism capabilities, and enhance other aspects of their internal security.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Oil, Terrorism, Natural Resources, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: More than a decade into the “war on terrorism,” much of the political debate in the US is still fixated on the legacy of 9/11. US politics has a partisan fixation on Benghazi, the Boston Marathon bombing, intelligence intercepts, and Guantanamo. Far too much US attention still focuses on “terrorism” at a time the US faces a much broader range of threats from the instability in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) and Islamic world. Moreover, much of the US debate ignores the fact that the US has not actually fought a “war on terrorism” over the last decade, and the US failures in using military force and civil aid in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US has not fought wars as such, but rather became involved in exercises in armed nation building where stability operations escalated into national building as a result of US occupation and where the failures in stability operations and nation building led to insurgencies that forced the US into major counterinsurgency campaigns that had little to do with counterterrorism. An analysis of the trends in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts shows that the US has not been fighting a war on terrorism since Bin Laden and Al Qaida Central were driven into Pakistan in December 2001. The US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and then made stability operations and armed nation building its key goals. It was US mishandling of these exercises in armed nation building that led to major counterinsurgency campaigns although – at least in the case of Afghanistan --the US continued to label its military operations as a struggle against “terrorism.” By 2013, the US had committed well over $1.4 trillion to these exercises in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the US made massive increases in its domestic spending on homeland defense that it rationalized as part of the fight against terrorism but often had little or nothing to do with any aspect of counterterrorism. At the same time, the US failed to develop consistent or useful unclassified statistics on the patterns in terrorism and its counterterrorism activities. The US government has never provided a meaningful break out of federal activities and spending at home or abroad which actually focus on terrorism, or any unclassified measures of effectiveness. The OMB has lumped a wide range of activities that have no relation to terrorism it its reporting on the President's budget request – activities whose total cost now approach $60 billion a year. The Department of Defense has never provided a meaningful estimate of the total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or a break out of the small portion of total overseas contingency operations (OCO) spending actually spent on counterterrorism versus counter insurgency. The State Department and US intelligence community provide no meaningful unclassified data on the cost of their counterterrorism effort and it is unclear that they have developed any metrics at any level that show the cost-benefits of their activities. The annual US State Department country reports on terrorism come as close to an unclassified report on the status of terrorism as the US government provides. While many portions are useful, the designation of terrorist movements is often political and shows the US designation of terrorist movements conflates terrorism and insurgency. The closest the US has come to developing any metrics on terrorism has been to develop an unclassified database in the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) that never distinguished terrorism from insurgency. This database formed the core of the statistical annex to State Department reporting, but has since been withdrawn without explanation. As this analysis shows in detail, it now has been replaced by a contractor effort that makes all of the previous mistakes made by the NCTC. The end result is a set of official reporting and statistics in the annex to the State Department report where “terrorism” remains remained poorly defined, badly structured, ignored in parts of the world, and conflates terrorism with counterinsurgency, instability, and civil war. A review of the Afghan, Iraq conflicts, and other recent conflicts in the MENA region shows just how serious these problems are in distorting the true nature of the wars the US is fighting and the threats it faces. The same is true of the unclassified reporting the US government provides on terrorism. A detailed review of the most recent State Department report on terrorism provides important insights into key terrorist movements, but the narratives generally ignore their ties to insurgent movements, their statistical data include some major insurgent movements and exclude others, and many of the data seem to include violence that is not truly terroristic in character.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai, Daniel Dewit
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The last active US combat forces left Iraq in August 2010, marking the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn. Some 49,000 advisory troops, four advisor assistance brigades, and a limited number of special operations forces (SOF) remained to train, advise, and assist Iraq's security forces after that date, including the military, intelligence, and police. Until the end, these US troops continued to serve a number of other important security functions: carrying out kinetic operations against Iranian-backed and other militant groups; providing training to the ISF; taking part in joint patrols along the borders of the Kurdish provinces and helping integrate ISF and Kurdish forces; and acting as a deterrent to Iraq's neighbors–in particular Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It is far easier to talk about international cooperation in fighting terrorism than it is to achieve it. The world has made real progress in recent years – at both the formal and informal levels. At the same time, national differences still pose serious limits to what can be achieved and the threat is changing. Even if one only focuses on the “greater Middle East,” the threat now involves far more than terrorism per se and non-state actors. Cooperation in counter terrorism must deal with these changes and with the fact that there are no clear boundaries between terrorism and insurgency, and that terrorism is only a symptom of a far broader ideological struggle.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Julianne Smith, Aidan Kirby, Daniel Benjamin
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The second phase of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Transatlantic Dialogue on Terror took place against a backdrop of rapid change. When the first conference in this series took place in Berlin in the spring of 2005, scholars and practitioners were still absorbing the details of the previous year's attacks against the Madrid light rail system, the murder of Dutch artist Theo van Gogh and a host of other attacks and foiled plots. Global radicalism continued to be shaped by the deepening insurgency in Iraq, in which radical Islamists from inside and outside that country play a pivotal role. In the months following the Berlin meeting, the bombing of the London Underground, the attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh and Amman, and a stream of revelations about radical Islamist activity from Europe to the Middle East to South Asia and Australia — where a group of conspirators were arrested for plotting an attack against that country's sole nuclear facility — had also to be taken into account.
  • Topic: International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe, South Asia, Middle East, London, Australia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Reasons for proliferating outweigh disincentives,and motivation is growing. Arms control regimes harass proliferators without stopping stem and fail to offer non-proliferators security. War fighting concepts are likely to lack clear structure and be highly volatile in terms of enemy, targets, and crisis behavior. Only a few leadership and military elites -- such as Egypt and Israel -- have shown a concern with highly structured strategic planning in the past. Iran-Iraq and Gulf Wars have demonstrated missiles and weapons of mass destruction will be used. Israeli actions in 1967 and attack on Osirak, Egyptian and Syrian attack on Israel in 1973, demonstrate regional focus on surprise and preemption. Iraq has already demonstrated regional concern with launch on warning, launch under attack options. Syria probably has some option of this kind. Concentration of population and leadership in single or a few urban areas makes existential attacks possible.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Reasons for proliferating outweigh disincentives, and motivation is growing. Arms control regimes harass proliferators without stopping stem and fail to offer nonproliferators security. War fighting concepts are likely to lack clear structure and be highly volatile in terms of enemy, targets, and crisis behavior. Only a few leadership and military elites -- such as Egypt and Israel -- have shown a concern with highly structured strategic planning in the past. Iran - Iraq and Gulf Wars have demonstrated missiles and weapons of mass destruction will be used. Israeli actions in 1967 and attack on Osirak, Egyptian and Syrian attack on Israel in 1973, demonstrate regional focus on surprise and preemption. Iraq has already demonstrated regional concern with launch on warning, launch under attack options. Syria probably has some option of this kind. Concentration of population and leadership in single or a few urban areas makes existential attacks possible.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 10-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Middle East is the scene of an ongoing process of proliferation. Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, and Syria all have significant capabilities to deliver weapons of mass destruction Israel, and Syria has made considerable progress in acquiring weapons of mass destruction since the mid-1970s. Syria has never shown a serious interest in nuclear weapons, although it did seek to buy two small research reactors from the PRC in 1992, including a 24-megawatt reactor, and purchased a small 30-kilowatt research reactor from the PRC in 1991. It allowed inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency for the first time in February 1992. Syria does, however, deploy sheltered missiles, armed with chemical warheads, as a means of both countering Israel's nuclear forces and maintaining its rivalry with Iraq. As the attached article Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Mustafa Tlas shows, Syria has a major interest in biological warfare, and the fact his article first appeared in public in an Iranian journal may not entirely be a coincidence.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Libya, Syria, Egypt