American and Western officials are poised to gloat over the recapture of Mosul and Raqqa from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). But this latest in a string of nominal victories against Islamist terrorists will prove as hollow and ephemeral as all the others. Warnings that al Qaeda will rise in Syria and a new generation of ISIS will emerge in Iraq have already begun.
Al Qaeda expert Katherine Zimmerman explains in a new report how US policymakers are pursuing the wrong strategy by focusing on military victories against specific groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.
Now that the common Iraqi goal of reclaiming Mosul from ISIS is largely complete and the country is preparing to move forward, there is room for internal hostilities to flare again.
More must be done soon to ensure that the Iraqi leadership understands, as the Lebanese government does not, that the continued existence of Iranian proxy forces within and working alongside its military is incompatible with long-term assistance from the United States.
There is no Thucydides Trap. War is not inevitable. The leaders of states, influenced by their citizens, make concrete policy decisions that can bring states closer to war or avoid it.
McCain has embraced the enemy of our enemy in the Tehran regime, but he has also embraced the enemy of the Iranian people, for whom for so long he has been a valiant champion. Iran can do better than the MEK.
“Tough Sell” is a critical contribution to the literature of what actually happened in Iraq and more broadly in the region during the post-invasion years.
With American credibility restored, President Trump should lead a diplomatic effort to replace Assad.
For all the talk of unity, the peshmerga remain functionally divided, loyal more to political party leaders than Kurdistan as a whole. If Kurdistan is going to advance—especially with talk of independence growing—it has to address the question about whether the peshmerga have become more a militia than an army.
This report is fourth in the series US Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al Qaeda, a joint project between AEI’s Critical Threats Project and the Institute for the Study of War.