Small Wars Journal

Islamic State

Measuring Strategic Progress Against ISIS

In order to make a clear case that the aggregate efforts of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (or Daesh as they are called in some countries) are showing progress towards “defeating” ISIS, we must understand the nature of this movement as a competition between its local jihadist groups and existing government leaders and institutions, at all levels, for the allegiance or submission of the population. In other words, we must address it for what it is: a networked global insurgency.

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Toward Understanding the Actions of the Islamic State and Other Jihadist Groups as Military Doctrine

After over a decade and a half of the “War on Terror,” the United States and its allies have discovered the difficulty of fighting insurgent terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Operating from hard-to-reach areas, such as mountains and deserts, exploiting lack of effective government control, and leveraging support from local populations, these organizations have developed a way of war that defies even U.S. military efforts.

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How the 2011 US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq Led to the Rise of ISIS

The United States was on the verge of achieving a lasting victory in the Iraq War after a costly seven-year occupation and the deaths of nearly 4,500 U.S. troops. In 2006, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had lost its charismatic leader and chief strategist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Over the next few years, the organization lost its base of support as Iraq’s Sunni tribes turned against it and began fighting beside US and Iraqi troops to eject the terrorists from their communities. By 2010, Iraq had emerged from its civil war and AQI had become irrelevant. Then, President Barack Obama made two strategic mistakes that reversed that progress and sent Iraq spiraling back down the path of sectarian violence.

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The Sinai Insurgency: The Next ISIS Crisis?

The Sinai conflict possesses all the traits of a robust insurgency, a human rights disaster, and the prerequisite conditions to escalate outside the peninsula. Strategies are based on resources, and resource limitations necessitate a focus on such issues as ISIS in Syria. However, external states cannot turn away from the situation. Europe and the United States should challenge human rights abuses and push the Egyptian authorities to reform their counterinsurgency tactics.

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The Fascist Caliphate: How the Islamic State Mirrored Fascist Political Tactics Through Appealing to a Relatively Deprived Middle Class

Both ideologies emphasize using violence to overthrow the existing international order and replace it with a strict, intolerant doctrine. Of the similarities, one of the most foundational is an emphasis on appealing to disenfranchised members of a middle class and the groups’ exploitation of middle class identity to achieve their goals.

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What to Expect in the New American ‘War on Terror’ in the Philippines SWJED Wed, 02/28/2018 - 2:08pm

The U.S. military resumed its counterterrorism mission in the Philippines in September 2017. This new operation comes on the heels of the rise of ISIS-linked groups.

Yemen: An Escapable Disaster - Why the United States Should Avoid Military Intervention SWJED Tue, 01/23/2018 - 12:23am

A national catastrophe embroiling Yemen’s neighbors and a microcosm of the problems existing throughout the greater Middle East.