Lessons of the Iraqi De-Ba'athification Program for Iraq's Future and the Arab Revolutions Authored by: Dr W Andrew Terrill. May 01, 2012


This monograph considers both the future of Iraq and the differences and similarities between events in Iraq and the Arab Spring states. The author analyzes the nature of Iraqi de-Ba’athification and carefully evaluates the rationales and results of actions taken by both Americans and Iraqis involved in the process. While there are many differences between the formation of Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein government and the current efforts of some Arab Spring governing bodies to restructure their political institutions, it is possible to identify parallels between Iraq and Arab Spring countries. As in Iraq, new Arab Spring governments will have to apportion power, build or reform key institutions, establish political legitimacy for those institutions, and accommodate the enhanced expectations of their publics in a post-revolutionary environment. A great deal can go wrong in these circumstances, and any lessons that can be gleaned from earlier conflicts will be of considerable value to those nations facing these problems, as well as their regional and extra-regional allies seeking to help them. Moreover, officers and senior noncommissioned officers of the U.S. Army must realize that they may often have unique opportunities and unique credibility to offer advice on the lessons of Iraq to their counterparts in some of the Arab Spring nations.

Maneuvering the Saudi-Iranian Rivalry in the Middle East: How the United States Can Preserve and Protect Its Long-Term Interests in the Region Authored by: Mr Gregory Aftandilian. November 15, 2018


This monograph examines the conflicts in the Middle East region between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the so-called proxy wars that are being fought between them, and discusses ways that the United States needs to maneuver carefully in this struggle to preserve its long-term interests in the area. Although Washington has political, economic, and strategic equities with Riyadh, it needs to think carefully about being perceived as engaging in sectarian strife that would alienate Shia allies in Iraq, show bias in its human rights policy, and anger millions of Iranian young people who want better relations with the United States.

Strategic Insights: ISIS in Libya: A Threat or a Dead-End? Authored by: Dr Azeem Ibrahim. September 26, 2018

Prior to 1912, Libya was a province within the Ottoman Empire and subdivided into two regions (Tripolitania in the west and Cyrenaica in the east) reflecting a long-standing ethnic and geographic division in the country. Although not administered separately, the large region reaching south into the Sahara had a different ethnic make-up compared to the rest of the country and was more connected to sub-Saharan Africa than to the Mediterranean. Ottoman control in the south was limited to a few towns, which gave them some oversight of the trade routes; but by the start of the 20th century, Ottoman authority was notional rather than effective in this region.

A Security Role for the United States in a Post-ISIS Syria? Authored by: Mr Gregory Aftandilian. September 14, 2018

Syria has become one of the most vexing and complex problems for U.S. strategic planners in recent times. Currently, the United States has about 2,000 troops in the northeastern part of the country whose primary mission has been to aid the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up primarily of Kurds and some Arab tribesmen, to fight ISIS. The near total defeat of ISIS in Syria, especially with the fall of its so-called caliphate capital in Raqqa in October 2017, might seem to suggest that the military mission is coming to an end and, therefore, the United States should pull out its troops. Indeed, President Donald Trump stated publicly in late March 2018, that he wanted these troops to come home “very soon.” However, since that time, the U.S. President has backtracked from this statement after receiving advice from several of his top military advisers, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, some foreign leaders like French President Emanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and influential members of Congress, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, all of whom have recommended that the President keep these troops in Syria.

Turkey's Strategic Position at the Crossroads of World Affairs Authored by: Dr Stephen J Blank, Dr William T Johnsen, Dr Stephen C Pelletiere. December 01, 1993

This report analyzes the implications of Turkey's policies and the reactions of Turkey's neighbors in three discrete chapters. The authors focus their conclusions and options for U.S. policymakers on the effect of Turkish policies in Europe, the Middle East, and the former Soviet republics. The final chapter summarizes their conclusions with respect to the three regions and provides policy options for continuing U.S.-Turkish relations that are so important in the search for peace and stability in these regions.

Can Egypt Lead the Arab World Again? Assessing Opportunities and Challenges for U.S. Policy Authored by: Mr Gregory Aftandilian. May 26, 2017

This monograph examines the possibility of Egypt leading the Arab world again, and how that effort, if successful, will present opportunities and challenges for U.S. policy. At the present time, Egypt is not in a position to do so given its many domestic problems stemming from its turbulent politics since 2011 and the challenges facing its economy, which is currently experiencing high unemployment, weak tourism revenues because of terrorist incidents, and high rates of inflation as it implements an International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic reform package. However, Egypt has faced similar problems in the past and has recovered from them, enabling it to pursue an Arab leadership role. Hence, the United States should be prepared to deal with Egypt’s longstanding leadership quest, which this monograph argues will generally be a positive development for the United States in the region, though there will be some issues where the United States and Egypt will not see eye-to-eye. Given the intense Sunni-Shia conflicts in the region that are fed in large part by the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, having Egypt (a moderate Sunni Muslim country not pushing a religious agenda) in a leadership role in the region will help to dampen this sectarian strife. Moreover, because of its large and competent military, Egypt can be a source of stability and reassurance when other Arab states, particularly the Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, are feeling vulnerable because of outside threats. Furthermore, Egypt can play a moderating influence in the region by being a bulwark against the radical extremist ideologies of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and like-minded groups. The United States can help Egypt succeed by continuing military assistance, offering counterterrorism training of whole units, and resuming military exercises like Bright Star. This monograph also argues for a boost in U.S. economic assistance to past levels—given Egypt’s strategic importance—to help it cope with economic reform measures even under U.S. budgetary woes. Although the United States and Egypt will continue to differ on the nature of Egypt’s domestic politics, particularly with regard to human rights and dissent and recognizing that the United States has limited influence in this regard, Washington should use whatever leverage it has to persuade the Egyptian Government to be less repressive, because an easing of authoritarian policies and practices will help Egyptian stability in the long run.

Radical Islamist English-Language Online Magazines: Research Guide, Strategic Insights, and Policy Response Authored by: Pamela L. Bunker, Dr Robert J Bunker. August 08, 2018

This Strategic Studies Institute book provides a comprehensive research guide to radical Islamist English-language online magazines, eBooks, and assorted radical Islamist news magazines, reports, and pocketbooks published between April-May 2007 and November 2016, and generates strategic insights and policy response options.

The Al-Qaeda Organization and the Islamic State Organization: History, Doctrine, Modus Operandi, and U.S. Policy to Degrade and Defeat Terrorism Conducted in the Name of Sunni Islam Authored by: Dr Paul Kamolnick. February 06, 2017

The al-Qaeda Organization (AQO) and the Islamic State Organization (ISO) are transnational adversaries that conduct terrorism in the name of Sunni Islam. It is declared U.S. Government (USG) policy to degrade, defeat, and destroy them. The present book has been written to assist policymakers, military planners, strategists, and professional military educators whose mission demands a deep understanding of strategically-relevant differences between these two transnational terrorist entities. In it, one shall find a careful comparative analysis across three key strategically relevant dimensions: essential doctrine, beliefs, and worldview; strategic concept, including terrorist modus operandi; and specific implications and recommendations for current USG policy and strategy. Key questions that are addressed include: How is each terrorist entity related historically and doctrinally to the broader phenomenon of transnational Sunni “jihadism”? What is the exact nature of the ISO? How, if at all, does ISO differ in strategically relevant ways from AQO? What doctrinal differences essentially define these entities? How does each understand and operationalize strategy? What critical requirements and vulnerabilities characterize each entity? Finally, what implications, recommendations, and proposals are advanced that are of particular interest to USG strategists and professional military educators?

The New Arab Regional Order: Opportunities and Challenges for U.S. Policy Authored by: Mr Gregory Aftandilian. November 01, 2015


This monograph examines the new Arab regional order that has emerged over the past few years and analyzes opportunities and challenges for U.S. strategic interests. The regional order encompasses: 1) an anti-Islamist grouping of countries that came about largely in reaction to Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt in 2012-2013; and, 2) an anti-Shia grouping which solidified in the aftermath of the Houthi takeover over much of Yemen, but which includes other areas of Sunni-Shia conflict in the region. Saudi Arabia is a leader in both orders and has important allies in them, like Egypt. Although the United States has extensive ties to a number of the countries in these alliances, and has assisted many of them in recent conflicts, it has tried to avoid getting involved in the larger Sunni-Shia conflict (having equities with both Sunni and Shia countries) and does not share the views of many secularists in the region that all Islamist groups pose a threat to regional stability. The monograph argues that U.S. policymakers should continue to promote inclusivity of all nonviolent political groups in the political systems of these countries, regardless of whether these groups are secularist or Islamist, with the understanding that there are limits to U.S. influence. In addition, U.S. policymakers should continue to avoid taking sides as much as possible in Sunni-Shia conflicts and should use its influence in the area to try to dampen such conflicts, as they are a main source of instability in the region and help extremist groups, like ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and al-Qaeda, exploit these conflicts. The monograph also recommends that the U.S. Army should assist countries of the region in counter-terrorism training and operations where possible, but Army officers should avoid being drawn into discussions about the Islamist-secularist and Sunni-Shia disputes.

Shari'a Law, Cult Violence and System Change in Egypt: The Dilemma Facing President Mubarak Authored by: Dr Stephen C Pelletiere. April 01, 1994

Egypt is one of the more economically deprived countries in the world. Societal stress is a major challenge. Few believe that Egypt will escape the poverty that has for so long oppressed it. For all its challenges, Egypt is of strategic importance to the United States, because of its leadership position in the Arab world. It would be extremely difficult for Washington to safeguard its interests in the Middle East without support from Cairo. Recently, Egypt has been hit with an outbreak of religious strife that poses a threat to the rule of President Husni Mubarak. This study looks at the unrest, identifies the forces behind it, and prescribes steps that can be taken to alleviate the situation.