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  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Institute hosted a policy forum on Sept. 22, 2016, to discuss the progress of Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State and their imminent operation to liberate Mosul. The panelists included Brig. Gen. William Mullen and Dr. Daniel Green, who also discussed how the coming battle for Mosul relates to lessons learned during their previous tour in Fallujah, where they served during the 2007 surge and which is the topic of their book, "Fallujah Redux: The Anbar Awakening and the Struggle with al-Qaeda" (Naval Institute Press, 2014). The discussion was moderated by Michael Eisenstadt, the Institute's Kahn Fellow and Director of its Military and Security Studies Program. Brig. Gen. William F. Mullen III, USMC, is the Commanding General of Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command at Twenty-Nine Palms, California, and recently served as the Deputy Commanding General-Operations, Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command in Baghdad from June 2015 to June 2016. In addition, he has served as director of the Combined Joint Operations Center, as a senior advisor to the Iraqi security forces, as a Regimental Combat Team Operations Officer in the Fallujah area (February 2005-February 2006), and as a Battalion Commander in Fallujah (March-October 2007). Daniel R. Green is a Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute. He recently served in Iraq as a mobilized reservist with the U.S. Navy from October 2015 to May 2016; in that capacity, he worked as a Sunni Arab tribal analyst, conducting engagements with local political and tribal leaders from Anbar Province. Previously, he served with the Navy from April to October 2007 as a Tribal and Political Engagement Officer in the Fallujah area. His publications include the 2011 monograph, "The Valley's Edge: A Year with the Pashtuns in the Heartland of the Taliban" (Potomac Books), based on his service in Afghanistan.
  • Topic: News Analysis
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: IN EARLY 2017, Iraqi security forces (ISF) are likely to liberate Mosul from Islamic State control. But given the dramatic comebacks staged by the Islamic State and its predecessors in the city in 2004, 2007, and 2014, one can justifiably ask what will stop IS or a similar movement from lying low, regenerating, and wiping away the costly gains of the current war. This paper aims to fill an important gap in the literature on Mosul, the capital of Ninawa province, by looking closely at the underexplored issue of security arrangements for the city after its liberation, in particular how security forces should be structured and controlled to prevent an IS recurrence. Though “big picture” political deals over Mosul’s future may ultimately be decisive, the first priority of the Iraqi-international coalition is to secure Mosul. As John Paul Vann, a U.S. military advisor in Vietnam, noted decades ago: “Security may be ten percent of the problem, or it may be ninety percent, but whichever it is, it’s the first ten percent or the first ninety percent. Without security, nothing else we do will last.”
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, International Security, Reconstruction, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Scott A. Vickery
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have had clear benefits, but a broader campaign involving more intelligence and targeting assistance on the ground is required to reap the full strategic benefits of turning back ISIS.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Phillip Smyth
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Iran's proxies are fighting ISIS in parallel with the U.S.-led effort, their actions and radical Shiite agendas are diametrically opposed to the goal of building inclusive governments and societies in Iraq and Syria.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Gilles de Kerchove, Jacob Bundsgaard, Maj. Gen. Doug Stone
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On the margins of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), global leaders in efforts to rehabilitate radicalized fighters gathered at the Institute to share their insights into what works -- and what doesn't. On February 20, Gilles de Kerchove, Jacob Bundsgaard, Doug Stone, and Matthew Levitt addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Kerchove is the European Union Counterterrorism Coordinator. Bundsgaard is Lord Mayor of Aarhus, Denmark, and a prominent player in the city's widely known jihadist rehabilitation program. Stone, a retired Marine major general, oversaw all theatre interrogation and detention in Iraq during the post- 2006 surge; he now works for the UN and helped develop the Rome Memorandum, the seminal best-practices compendium for rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders. Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler Fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Denmark, Rome
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The coalition effort to rebuild and retrain the Iraqi security forces (ISF) will have better odds of success if American advisors urge their counterparts to incorporate lessons from other Arab armies that have experienced defeat, learned from their failures, and eventually prevailed against their enemies. These armies -- Egypt in the 1973 war with Israel, Iraq in the latter phases of its 1980-1988 war with Iran, and even hybrid actors such as the "Islamic State"/ISIS -- succeeded by developing workarounds for persistent shortcomings exhibited by conventional Arab armies, and by adapting foreign concepts and practices to their specific needs.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights, Phillip Smyth, P.J. Dermer
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 6, 2015, Michael Knights, Phillip Smyth, and P.J. Dermer addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Knights is an Institute Lafer Fellow and author of the Institute study The Long Haul: Rebooting U.S. Security Cooperation in Iraq. Smyth is a researcher at the University of Maryland and author of the Institute study The Shiite Jihad in Syria and Its Regional Effects. Dermer is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served multiple tours in the Middle East, including two in Iraq. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Sending a small number of U.S. Apache helicopters to Iraq would demonstrate increasing U.S. support, and any local or regional drawbacks could be addressed by offsetting measures. The recent seizure of Fallujah by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), al-Qaeda's main affiliate in Iraq, is a shocking development. Liberated from al-Qaeda in 2004 at a cost of 122 U.S. deaths, the city sits just twenty-five miles from Baghdad International Airport. Against the backdrop of this crisis, Iraq has once again sought to purchase an unspecified number of Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the United States or, at minimum, to lease six of the aircraft while Congress decides the fate of a major, still-delayed arms sale. The potential benefits of sending Apaches sooner rather than later are clear, and although many have argued against such a move, their concerns are either unwarranted or readily addressable.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Baghdad's promising offer on oil exports and revenues could provide vital breathing room to build a permanent revenue-sharing law, and Washington should encourage the Iraqi Kurds to sign on. On February 16, the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will hold another round of negotiations on oil exports and revenue sharing, the fifth such meeting since December 25. With passage of Iraq's 2014 budget delayed by the talks, all parties have a strong interest in striking a deal. Fortunately, such an agreement now stands a better chance of sticking than ever before.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Ethnic Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington should look for small changes in Kuwait and Qatar's political and security calculus that could provide opportunities to support counter-terrorist financing measures there. On April 30, the U.S. State Department noted that private donations from Persian Gulf countries were "a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly...in Syria," calling the problem one of the most important counterterrorism issues during the previous calendar year. Groups such as al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), previously known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, are believed to be frequent recipients of some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that wealthy citizens and others in the Gulf peninsula have been donating during the Syrian conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Syria, Qatar
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The loss of government control in a major city may be just the wakeup call Iraqi politicians need to embrace a more ambitious reconciliation agenda.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Mosul crisis highlights how ISIS has established a potent cadre of foreign jihadists who freely operate across the rapidly disappearing Iraq-Syria border.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Phillip Smyth
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iran's proxy groups have been working closely with Iraqi government forces for some time and will likely become more important to Baghdad in light of recent events.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nima Gerami
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iran's compartmented nuclear program and fears of sabotage have complicated efforts to address IAEA concerns about the program's suspected military side.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Encouraging signs have emerged that the collapse of federal government control in Iraq may have slowed and that Baghdad is beginning the transition to counteroffensive operations to regain ground. Massive mobilization of largely Shiite volunteers has given Baghdad an untrained but motivated "reserve army" that can be used to swamp cross-sectarian areas around the Iraqi capital. All available formed military units have been pulled out of reserve and brought toward Baghdad to defend the capital. In this effort, all Department of Border Enforcement units have been relocated from the country's borders, and Iraqi army and Federal Police units have been redeployed from southern Iraq. Isolated federal government units are scattered across northern Iraq, in some cases hanging on against Sunni militants with the support of adjacent Kurdish forces.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Law Enforcement, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Events on the battlefield will reveal the true effects of the crisis, but the ISIS campaign in Iraq could ultimately help the Syrian opposition and hurt the Assad regime.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Washington should have no illusions about resolving the region's wider problems, it can build on early successes against ISIS by making the commitments needed to fully defeat the group in Iraq and Syria, including a modest, enduring U.S. military presence.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Syria
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Leaders in Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan have taken a brave step toward reunifying the country through revenue sharing. The United States should support implementation of the deal.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Baghdad, Kurdistan
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The moderate rebel force currently envisioned by Washington would take far too long to arrive on the battlefield and could be easy prey for ISIS and Assad. As the Obama administration's plans for raising a moderate Syrian opposition force become clearer, its approach seems to center on a lengthy recruitment, training, and deployment program initially dedicated to defense against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). If carried out, this plan promises a long delay before significant forces are on the battlefield. It would also limit their potential effectiveness in the near to midterm and perhaps commit them to a protracted enterprise in which defeat is likely.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Syria
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Twenty years ago, at the close of the 1991 Gulf War, the imposition of a UN-mandated no-fly zone contributed to the formation of a safe haven for Iraqi Kurds, resulting in the liberation of nearly three million people from Baathist dictatorship a full decade before the rest of Iraq. In 1992, new UN-mandated no-fly and no-drive zones were established in southern Iraq and the Balkans to contain rogue regimes and protect civilians from government repression. Given the current developments in Libya, it is natural to consider employing such options once again. Yet history shows that exclusion zones are particularly tricky operations. If not configured properly, they can be worse than useless, signaling fecklessness instead of resolve while providing little real protective value to civilians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, United Nations, Balkans, North Africa
  • Author: David Pollock, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two months after nationwide elections, Iraq's government formation process is still on hold. The final voting results have yet to be announced as disputes over recounts and candidate disqualifications linger. Nor is it clear how a governing majority will be formed, and power shared, among the four major party alliances, each of which garnered somewhere between 16 percent and 28 percent of the vote: the Kurdish bloc and its affiliates; the largely Sunni or secular Iraqiyah party led by a former prime minister of Shiite origin, Ayad Allawi; incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's largely Shiite State of Law Alliance (SLA); and SLA's rival Shiite/Sadrist list, the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a coalition that includes the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Central Asia
  • Author: Michael Knights, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In an August 2 speech, President Obama confirmed that regardless of the status of government formation in Iraq, the U.S. military remained committed to the withdrawal of all combat forces by the month's end. Meanwhile, Iraq is still struggling to form a government in the long wake of the March elections, and the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan -- when much political and business life slows almost to a standstill -- begins next week. If an Iraqi government does not form fairly quickly after Ramadan ends in mid-September, Iraq's political scene may worsen, including an increased risk for violence. Ramadan has always existed in Iraqi and U.S. minds as a break point, when a new government may finally come together. Failure to make progress during the month is thus likely to elicit at least mild panic amongst politicians and the public. So how might the deadlock be broken?
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Michael Knights, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 17, Iraq's Council of Ministers approved a draft legislation that would require the ratification of the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement, also known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), in a national referendum coinciding with the national elections on January 16, 2010. Out of the 275 Iraqi parliamentarians, a simple majority is needed to authorize the draft law when the National Assembly reconvenes on September 8, 2009. If a referendum takes place, and the Iraqis reject the security agreement, U.S. forces would be required to leave Iraq by January 16, 2011, instead of December 31, 2011. The referendum could also change the nature of the upcoming national elections, focusing attention on nationalistic posturing at the expense of the U.S.-Iraqi relationship, and distracting Iraqi politicians and voters from the many serious issues facing the country.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, War, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 29, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) issued the provisional results of last month's presidential and parliamentary elections in Iraqi Kurdistan. The election outcome -- the traditionally entrenched political bloc losing ground to a newly formed party -- has exposed an opening in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Consequently, the region has taken a step away from a fully "managed democracy" toward a more fluid and unpredictable political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Kurdistan
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 25, Iraqi Kurds go to the polls to vote in a joint parliamentary and presidential election. Although a heated competition in January produced massive change at the provincial level throughout the rest of Iraq, the electoral system produced by the incumbent Iraqi Kurdistan parliament prevents such sweeping changes in the north. Both the current coalition governing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the current KRG president, Masoud Barzani, will most likely be reelected. Despite the lack of change, the postelection period will create an opportunity for Baghdad, Washington, and the KRG to resolve outstanding issues that cause increased tension between Arabs and Kurds. Resolution can occur only if all parties take advantage of new political openings, however narrow.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's visit to Washington next week, the Obama administration will likely seek to reinvigorate that country's flagging reconciliation process as part of ongoing efforts to establish a stable political order in Iraq. Progress, however, continues to be hindered by ongoing violence, deep-seated suspicions, and partisan politics, raising questions about the ultimate prospects for national reconciliation.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 7, the Iraqi parliament went on summer recess after failing to pass a critical election law, delaying the country's provincial elections until sometime next year. The failure comes after the parliament successfully passed the law on July 22, only to be vetoed by the Iraqi Presidency Council in less than thirty-six hours. The core dispute involves the oil-rich Kirkuk province, which is currently witnessing an alarming escalation of demonstrations and politically motivated attacks. This forced Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to send his defense minister and an Iraqi brigade to the region in an attempt to deter further problems. As a result of Baghdad's political squabbling, the desperately needed provincial elections may seem unattainable.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Raymond Tanter
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Throughout summer 2008, Iraqi politicians tied to Tehran have put increasing political pressure on the U.S. government to allow Baghdad to control Camp Ashraf, the base housing Iran's main opposition -- the Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK). Options regarding Iraqi-based MEK members are limited, but include the following: sending them to the United States; allowing them to stay in Iraq under Iraqi control; dispersing them to surrounding countries, including Iran; or maintaining the status quo with the continued protection of the U.S. military. Since each option is problematic, finding a solution is neither easy nor simple.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While experts negotiate the technical aspects of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) -- an arrangement that would govern future security relations between Iraq and the United States -- Iraqi politicians are engaged in a rhetorical campaign against such an agreement, making it nearly impossible to finalize a deal by this summer. Meanwhile, the escalating debate now includes Iraq's neighbors, with top Iranian officials expressing their opposition to any kind of security arrangement.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush returns to the Middle East this week for the second time in 2008. Initially planned to mark Israel's sixtieth anniversary, his itinerary has expanded to include meetings with top officials from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Saudi Arabia. Except for a trip to Riyadh, these meetings will be held at a World Economic Forum conference in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt. This lineup prompted National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley to say the trip has "both symbolism and substance" and, considering the urgency of the issues, something of substance may actually emerge.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The recent military offensive in Basra was the first sizeable operation in which Iraqi government forces took the initiative to pursue armed groups in one of the country's most politically charged regions. Although the operation was a military success, its political aftermath will be crucial for the survival of both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government and Muqtada al-Sadr's militia.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Sunnis in Anbar and other western Iraqi provinces have struggled to develop a coherent and representative political leadership. The recently formed Iraqi Awakening Convention (IAC) -- a collective of so-called "Awakening council" leaders -- could represent the next step in that evolution and, if nurtured, make a significant contribution to broader political reconciliation. It will also mean, however, that current elected leaders will have to give way to new local leaders or compete politically with them, since it is pointless to compete violently given the asymmetry of the current power balance.
  • Topic: Islam, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Abdulkadir Onay, Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 21, Turkish ground forces crossed the Iraqi border in an attempt to dismantle Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorist camps, following weeks of periodic aerial bombardment that began in mid-December. The incursion was partly the product of a November 5 agreement between Turkey and the United States to share intelligence in fighting the PKK, a group that the U.S. State Department has designated a foreign terrorist organization. On February 22, the White House backed the operation: "The United States agrees with Turkey that the PKK is a terrorist organization, and . . . an enemy of Turkey, Iraq, and the United States."
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Away from the headlines, Sunnis and Shiites are testing the waters of reconciliation in the Iraqi parliament with an agreement that may come at the expense of country's Kurdish population. The Kurdish political reaction to such an agreement could potentially exacerbate anti-Kurdish sentiment among many Arab parliamentarians, costing the Kurds some of the hard-earned political ground they have gained thus far.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 22, the Iraqi parliament belatedly passed a provincial elections law, ending a long and costly deadlock. Parliament ratified the initial version of the law on July 22, but it was later vetoed by two members of Iraq's presidency council. This time it is likely that the bill will survive council scrutiny because of the compromises and concessions made in the long negotiation process. Nevertheless, passing the law marks only the beginning of a vital political transition that could lead to either a unified democratic state or a fractured sectarian country prone to foreign influence.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After months of rigorous debate, U.S. and Iraqi negotiators submitted a draft Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to Iraq's cabinet and political leadership last week. Since then, many Iraqi politicians have publicly expressed reservations, while others have distanced themselves from the draft in an attempt to deflect blame and avoid the electorate's censure in the upcoming provincial elections. Despite the opposition, approving the SOFA is essential not only for maintaining Iraq's fragile security gains, but also for supporting the struggle against regional forces that want to reshape the Middle East to the detriment of U.S. and Iraqi interests.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although recognized as a political flashpoint, the Iraqi province of Kirkuk is suffering from a largely overlooked security crisis that has improved little since the beginning of the 2007 U.S. military "surge." The decline in reported insurgent attacks in Kirkuk has been relatively small, dropping from a monthly average of 169 violent incidents in 2007 to 122 in 2008. This 28 percent decline compares with 91 percent in Baghdad during the same period, and the per capita number of attacks in Kirkuk city is actually twice that of Baghdad. Considering these statistics, providing security support for the political process in the tense months and years to come has become a critical priority.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The next U.S. president will be a wartime president. Developments in the Middle East almost ensure that either John McCain or Barack Obama will have to manage one or more wars involving the United States or its allies in the region.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Barack Obama assumes office on January 20, 2009, the president-elect will face many pressing issues. The strategic case for careful and active management of Iraq policy, however, remains strong. Iraq has at least 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (9.3 percent of the world total) and borders Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. This vital Middle Eastern country could become a terrorist thoroughfare and the scene of future regional wars or it could become a stable and prosperous U.S. ally. What matters now is not how U.S. presence in Iraq started, but how it will change in the next four years. It may be far more economical to finish stabilizing Iraq under the relatively favorable present conditions compared to the unknown and potentially unfavorable situation of the future. Iraq retains the potential to contribute to U.S. policy objectives in the Persian Gulf region and the broader Islamic world. It could yet emerge as a strong democratic state at the center of the Middle East.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Larisa Baste
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 1, President-elect Obama announced his nomination of Senator Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state. The following are her remarks on key Middle East issues made during the course of the Democratic presidential primary campaign.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 21, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) operatives carried out an attack from northern Iraq into Turkey, killing twelve Turkish soldiers. This incident followed the killing of more than thirty people in recent weeks, including an incident in which the PKK pulled a dozen civilians off a public bus and shot them. The Turkish public has responded to the attacks by calling for incursion into northern Iraq to eliminate PKK camps there.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Armenia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The September 6 Israeli bombing of a presumed North Korean-supplied nuclear weapons facility in Syria highlights the ongoing policy challenge posed by Damascus. More than three years after President Bush signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SAA), Syria continues to support terrorism, destabilize Iraq, meddle in Lebanon, and develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems. This week's headlines tell the story: on September 19, yet another anti-Syrian parliamentarian was assassinated in Lebanon; the same day, Jane's Defence Weekly reported that a July 2007 chemical weapons accident in Syria -- involving mustard gas and VX and sarin nerve agents -- killed fifteen Syrian officers and dozens of Iranian engineers.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North Korea, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A series of congressional hearings and media interviews by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker this week offered insights into the U.S. strategy in Iraq, and several yardsticks by which future progress there may be evaluated.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 3, 550 British troops evacuated one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Basra via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, retreating to Basra airport, the last British base in Iraq. Britain remains responsible for security in the city and for the major supply route from Kuwait, fifty miles to the south. But there is an increasing presumption that British forces will soon withdraw completely, and that U.S. forces will have to replace them.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, H. Akin Unver
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 7, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Ankara against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Although the PKK, based in northern Iraq, is on the U.S. State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, lack of action against the group by Washington and Baghdad is poisoning Turkey's relations with both. Moreover, because the group operates from an area of Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the PKK issue affects Turkey's ties with Iraqi Kurds as well. Does the MOU represent a breakthrough on any of these fronts?
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jordanians go to the polls tomorrow to elect nearly 1,000 local representatives and 92 mayors. On their own, these elections are of minimal interest to Washington: municipalities have small budgets, limited responsibilities, and scant independence from the central government. But the voting comes just a month after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, during a spike in the violence in Iraq, and a week after a landslide victory for the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish national elections. Adding to the significance of the Jordanian ballot is the fact that, after boycotting the 2003 contest, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), will participate in this year's elections. A potential IAF victory highlights growing concern that Islamists are on a political roll throughout the Middle East, and that Jordan may be vulnerable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Gaza, Jordan
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 29-30, just over a month after taking over from Tony Blair, new British prime minister Gordon Brown will meet with President Bush at Camp David. It will be the first opportunity for direct, substantive discussions between the two leaders and is widely expected to be a difficult summit. Brown is seen as wanting to establish a very different -- and cooler -- relationship with Bush. Although the effect of this public distancing on longstanding U.S.-British cooperation is uncertain at the moment, the change in substance and style will no doubt have implications for current policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the way the two leaders relate in the event of future crises.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Britain, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Could Hamas members in the Gaza Strip join ranks with the global jihadist movement led by al-Qaeda? There is merit to this question, given the recent Hamas takeover of the territory and al-Qaeda's call for Muslims around the world to finance and arm Hamas. The interpersonal relationships between Hamas and al-Qaeda members present a significant danger. Although, as an organization, Hamas is not about to join al-Qaeda, individual Hamas members could (see Jake Lipton, "The War of Words between Hamas and al-Qaeda," PolicyWatch no. 1254). Moreover, a lawless Gaza -- like Iraq's Anbar province, Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas, and Somalia -- could quickly become a safe haven for both homegrown and imported jihadists.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Zeynep Eroglu
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 8, a day after reports that Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to pursue members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iranian aircraft bombed the camps of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), also in northern Iraq. PJAK, which operates in the mountains of northern Iraq and adjacent areas of Iran, has around 3,000 members. Analysts describe the group as the Iranian branch of the PKK, which has been carrying out attacks on Turkish military and civilian targets for decades and is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. PJAK insists that it is distinct from the PKK, but interviews with its leaders and members, along with a look at its history, suggest that the two groups have similar ideologies and methodologies. They also share leadership and membership, in addition to operating in overlapping areas. Given that both Turkey and Iran view PJAK as a threat, the group poses unique challenges to U.S.-Turkish relations.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Ali Koknar
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that thousands of Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to pursue members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an organization on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Later, the AP corrected this, reporting that only a few hundred Turkish troops were involved in the incursion. Meanwhile, the White House, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari issued statements that no Turkish troop incursion had taken place in Iraqi territory.
  • Topic: Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East