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Middle East & North Africa - Recent


Research on the Middle East and North Africa focuses on three central areas. These are (1) US-Middle Eastern strategic cooperation and conflict, (2) the role and importance of political Islam in the region, and (3) insurgency and terrorism both in and emanating from the region as well as ways to address these problems. Dr. Andrew Terrill is our Middle East and North Africa specialist.

New References from the Military Education Research Library Network

Syria: Congressional Hearing on Human Rights

(9/30/11) A Congressional hearing on U.S. human rights policy toward Iran and Syria. (View it at NDU)

Syria: Congressional Hearing on Human Rights

(9/30/11) A Congressional hearing on U.S. human rights policy toward Iran and Syria. (View it at NDU)

Saudi Arabia: NSC Statement on Reforms

(9/30/11) A statement from the National Security Council on women's voting rights in Saudi Arabia. (View it at NDU)

Saudi Arabia: NSC Statement on Reforms

(9/30/11) A statement from the National Security Council on women's voting rights in Saudi Arabia. (View it at NDU)

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    Added July 21, 2014

    Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond

    Authored by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri.
    View the Executive Summary

    The rise to power of Islamist political parties in a number of North African states over the past 3 years has caused widespread concern over the future domestic and foreign policy directions of those states. This monograph explores political change in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, and concludes that despite political crises in each country, worst case scenarios have not been borne out and there is hope for optimism.

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    Added June 13, 2014

    Countering Radicalization and Recruitment to Al-Qaeda: Fighting the War of Deeds

    Authored by Dr. Paul Kamolnick.
    View the Executive Summary

    Fighting the War of Deeds begins by taking deeds seriously—deadly serious—as action, policy, and communication. As communication, deeds furnish the U.S. Government a uniquely potent means for countering al-Qaeda’s terrorist propaganda effectively, and also building longer-term alliances based on mutuality with the Arab and Muslim world.

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    Added May 23, 2014

    Islamism and Security in Bosnia-Herzegovina

    Authored by Leslie S. Lebl.
    View the Executive Summary

    Bosnia-Herzegovina, once thought to be on the way to joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), is instead falling behind, mired in political bickering, economic stalemate and governmental dysfunction. In this difficult situation, Islamism poses a significant threat to Bosnia’s fragile domestic stability.

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    Added May 16, 2014

    From War to Deterrence? Israel-Hezbollah Conflict Since 2006

    Authored by Dr. Jean-Loup Samaan.
    View the Executive Summary

    Over the last 7 years, the border between Israel and Lebanon has remained quiet. Against all odds, in a Middle East experiencing tremendous challenges, Israel and Hezbollah did not trigger a new conflict. Here is the paradox of stability between these two foes which is at the origin of this monograph.

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    Added May 06, 2014

    The Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq

    Authored by Dr. Azeem Ibrahim.
    View the Executive Summary

    The Syrian civil war has allowed al-Qaeda to recover from its setbacks up to 2010. Syria has also seen a civil war between two al-Qaeda inspired factions (Al Nusrah and the Iraq based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and indicates there are limits to its ability to cooperate with other anti-Assad factions and gain popular appeal.

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    Added March 12, 2014

    Turkey-Kurdish Regional Government Relations After the U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq: Putting the Kurds on the Map?

    Authored by Bill Park.
    View the Executive Summary

    The withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq at the end of 2011 left behind a set of unresolved problems in the relationship between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and the Federal Government in Baghdad, compounded by Erbil’s subsequent pursuit of an energy relationship with Turkey. This has deepened both Turkish-Iraqi and regional sectarian tensions and, along with developments in Syria, has raised the specter of wider Kurdish self-determination, a prospect that Washington has been slow to recognize.

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    Added December 30, 2013

    Africa's Booming Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Production: National Security Implications for the United States and China

    Authored by David E. Brown.
    View the Executive Summary

    Two key long-term energy trends are shifting the strategic balance between the United States and China, the world’s superpower rivals in the 21st century: first, a domestic boom in U.S. shale oil and gas dramatically boosting America’s energy security; second, the frenetic and successful search for hydrocarbons in Africa making it an increasingly crucial element in China’s energy diversification strategy.

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    Added August 21, 2013

    2013-14 Key Strategic Issues List

    Edited by Professor John F. Troxell.
    For several years, the Strategic Studies Institute has annually published the Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL). The overall purpose of this document is to make students and other researchers aware of strategic topics that are of special interest to the U.S. Army. Part I of KSIL is entitled "Army Priorities for Strategic Analysis" (APSA) and is a list of high-priority topics submitted by Headquarters, Department of the Army. Part II is entitled "Command Sponsored Topics" and represents the high-priority command-specific topics submitted by MACOMs and ASCCs. This KSIL provides military and civilian researchers worldwide a listing of the Army's most critical national security issues.

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    Added August 08, 2013

    AFRICOM at 5 Years: The Maturation of a New U.S. Combatant Command

    Authored by David E. Brown.
    View the Executive Summary

    Created in 2007, the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has matured greatly over the last 5 years, overcoming much of the initial resistance from African stakeholders and the U.S. interagency about a “militarization” of U.S. foreign policy in Africa. This Letort Paper describes the geostrategic, operational, and intellectual changes that explain why AFRICOM was created, debunks three negative myths about AFRICOM’s current operations, and raises five issues important to AFRICOM’s future, including the need to carry out a “right-sizing” exercise at AFRICOM during a time of severe budget constraints and a real risk for the United States of “strategic insolvency.”

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    Added June 28, 2013

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Libya: Reviewing Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR

    Authored by Dr. Florence Gaub.
    View the Executive Summary

    NATO's Libya Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR is considered a military success. As this monograph shows, multiple strategic lessons can be learned from it.

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    Added June 21, 2013

    The Struggle for Yemen and the Challenge of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    View the Executive Summary

    How does al-Qaeda's regional and international terrorist acts compare with those of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), particularly in Yemen? Although Yemen's new reform government defeated AQAP and recaptured areas lost to AQAP in 2012, the terrorists remain an extremely dangerous force seeking to reassert themselves at this time of transition in Yemen.

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    Added June 10, 2013

    The Future of the Arab Gulf Monarchies in the Age of Uncertainties

    Authored by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri.
    View the Executive Summary

    This monograph assesses the challenges facing the Arab Gulf’s rulers, and proposes meaningful political reform as a means of mitigating these challenges.

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    Added May 17, 2013

    The Challenge of Drug Trafficking to Democratic Governance and Human Security in West Africa

    Authored by David E. Brown.
    View the Executive Summary

    International criminal networks—some with links to terrorism—represent an existential threat to democratic governance of already fragile states in West Africa, and are using drugs to buy political power, fray West Africa’s traditional social fabric, and create a public health crisis. Drug trafficking represents the most serious challenge to human security in the region since resource conflicts rocked several West African countries in the early 1990s; international aid to the subregion’s “war on drugs” is only in an initial stage, and progress will be have to be measured in decades, not years.

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    Added May 13, 2013

    War and Insurgency in the Western Sahara

    Authored by Staff Researcher.
    View the Executive Summary

    Home to the largest functional military barrier in the world, the Western Sahara has a long history of colonial conquest and resistance, guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency, and evolving strategic thought. This monograph explores the past, present, and future of the region, including its relationship to developments in Morocco, Algeria, and elsewhere in North Africa.

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    Added April 11, 2013

    Egypt's New Regime and the Future of the U.S.-Egyptian Strategic Relationship

    Authored by Gregory Aftandilian.
    View the Executive Summary

    This monograph, completed in August 2012, analyzes the developments in Egypt from January 2011 to August 2012 and addresses the following questions that are pertinent to U.S. policymakers: How does the United States maintain good relations and preserve its strategic partnership with Egypt under Cairo’s new political leadership and the changing political environment in the country? How does it do so while adhering to American values such as supporting democracy even when those coming to power do not share U.S. strategic goals?

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    Added March 20, 2013

    Governance, Identity, and Counterinsurgency: Evidence from Ramadi and Tal Afar

    Authored by Dr. Michael Fitzsimmons.
    View the Executive Summary

    Western thinking on counterinsurgency seems to be that success in countering insurgencies depends on a perception of legitimacy among local populations. However, it may be more correct to consider the identity of who governs, rather than on how whoever governs governs.

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    Added October 31, 2012

    State-Building Challenges in a Post-Revolution Libya

    Authored by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri.
    Following the overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi, Libya’s National Transitional Council inherited a difficult and volatile domestic situation. The new leadership faces serious challenges in all areas of statehood. Libya’s immediate future is of critical importance, consequently, it is especially important for Libya's interim government to build the political institutions for a functioning modern democratic state.

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    Added September 19, 2012

    The Prospects for Security Sector Reform in Tunisia: A Year After the Revolution

    Authored by Dr. Querine Hanlon.
    The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, and in the year since the revolution, Tunisia has undergone a remarkable transition to democratic rule. The legacy of the previous regime looms large, however, as Tunisia’s new government faces major challenges implementing Security Sector Reform.

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    Added September 17, 2012

    Hidden Dragon, Crouching Lion: How China's Advance in Africa is Underestimated and Africa's Potential Underappreciated

    Authored by David E. Brown.
    In 2010, China eclipsed the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner. Beijing has accomplished this by using a tied aid, trade, and development finance strategy to promote its commercial and political interests on the continent, and its status as a rising global power. This monograph examines the origins of China’s rapid economic advance in Africa; whether this advance will help or hurt Africa; and, the implications that this ecomomic advance will have for the United States.

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    Added August 01, 2012

    Against All Odds: Relations between NATO and the MENA Region

    Authored by Dr. Florence Gaub.
    Whereas NATO had no relationships with the Middle East and North Africa at all until 1994, it has expanded now to an extent where the League of Arab States mandated its Libya mission in 2011. This monograph explains this unlikely development.

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    Added August 01, 2012

    2012-13 Key Strategic Issues List

    Edited by Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria, II.
    The purpose of the Key Strategic Issues List is to provide military and civilian researchers a ready reference for issues of special interest to the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense.

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    Added May 01, 2012

    Lessons of the Iraqi De-Ba'athification Program for Iraq's Future and the Arab Revolutions

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    This monograph considers both the future of Iraq and the differences and similarities between events in Iraq and the Arab Spring states. Serious and expanding mistakes by new governments are possible in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolutions, and any lessons that can be gleaned from earlier conflicts will be of considerable value to those nations. Moreover, U.S. Army officers and senior noncommissioned officers (NCOs) 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.

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    Added March 14, 2012

    Delegitimizing Al-Qaeda: A Jihad-Realist Approach

    Authored by Dr. Paul Kamolnick.
    Preventing radicalization and recruitment to al-Qaeda’s terrorism is vital to U.S. national security. This monograph suggests a distinct “jihad-realist” approach for partially accomplishing this elusive strategic objective.

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    Added December 08, 2011

    The Saudi-Iranian Rivalry and the Future of Middle East Security

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    Saudi Arabia and Iran have often behaved as serious rivals for influence in the Middle East and especially the Gulf area since at least Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. While both nations define themselves as Islamic, the differences between their foreign policies could hardly be more dramatic. Recently, the rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran has intensified and been reflected in their policies involving a number of regional states including Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and others.

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    Added September 30, 2011

    Presidential Succession Scenarios in Egypt and Their Impact on U.S.-Egyptian Strategic Relations

    Authored by Gregory Aftandilian.
    This monograph explores the critical question of who might succeed President Hosni Mubarak by examining various succession scenarios in Egypt. Given the extensive political, security, and economic ties between the United States and Egypt, the monograph also examines the policy implications of each of these scenarios and makes recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

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    Added May 19, 2011

    Rebuilding Armed Forces: Learning from Iraq and Lebanon

    Authored by Dr. Florence Gaub.
    Learning from the armed forces of Iraq and Lebanon might not seem the first instinct when it comes to improving post-conflict reconstruction efforts. Yet, the two cases offer useful insight into these processes, what to avoid and what to emphasize.

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    Added March 09, 2011

    India in Africa: Implications of an Emerging Power for AFRICOM and U.S. Strategy

    Authored by Dr. J. Peter Pham.
    Little attention has been given to the fact that India is fast becoming one of Africa’s most important partners, not just in the economic realm but also in the political and security sectors. The author argues that, in the context of the broader U.S.-India strategic partnership as well as America’s specific interests in Africa, the United States should welcome India’s contributions to and engage with India on the African continent.

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    Added January 27, 2011

    The Conflicts in Yemen and U.S. National Security

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    Yemen is not currently a failed state, but it is experiencing huge political and economic problems that can have a direct impact on U.S. interests in the region. More recently, Yemen has also emerged as one of the most important theaters for the struggle against al-Qaeda. Under these circumstances, advancing U.S. interests by helping the Yemenis is a major foreign policy challenge that must be addressed by U.S. strategic leaders.

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    Added November 02, 2010

    America's Most Committed Muslim Ally

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    Each month a member of the SSI faculty writes an editorial for our monthly newsletter. This is the Op-Ed for the November 2010 newsletter.

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    Added September 23, 2010

    Preparing for One War and Getting Another?

    Authored by Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria, II.
    The idea that war or strategy is driven by a paradoxical logic is attractive, but a number of questions remain unanswered. If war has its own logic, rather than its own grammar, where does the logic of policy fit in? If the logic of strategy is paradoxical, how can it be taught? What are paradoxes, and can they be useful in guiding our strategic choices?

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    Added September 09, 2010

    Somalia: Line in the Sand--Identification of MYM Vulnerabilities

    Authored by LTC Eloy E. Cuevas, Madeleine Wells.
    Continuing instability in Somalia has increased concern that terrorists who seek to establish a foothold in Africa may use such insecure places as a safe haven and launching pad for future attacks. Several attempts have been made to establish lawful governments in Somalia; however, warlord and clan interests have managed to take center stage among the population. The Somali-based al-Shabaab (also known as the Mujahidin Youth Movement [MYM]) is a militant organization born out of both successive regional turmoil and international salafi-jihadi ideology, which continues to actively undermine the United Nations (UN)-supported African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, the fledging Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and all UN efforts to support Somalis in creating a stable state.

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    Added May 17, 2010

    Sufism in Northern Nigeria: A Force for Counter-Radicalization?

    Authored by Dr. Jonathan N. C. Hill.
    This monograph examines the roles played by the Qadiriyya and Tijaniyya Sufi Brotherhoods in countering Islamic radicalism in northern Nigeria.

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    Added May 06, 2010

    Decisionmaking In Operation IRAQI FREEDOM: The Strategic Shift of 2007

    Authored by Dr. Steven Metz.
    Was the 2007 decision to surge forces into Iraq effective in turning the war from a potential disaster to a possible success?

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    Added April 23, 2010

    Shades of CORDS in the Kush: The False Hope of "Unity of Effort" in American Counterinsurgency

    Authored by Mr. Henry Nuzum.
    Counterinsurgency (COIN) requires an integrated military, political, and economic program best developed by teams that field both civilians and soldiers. This Paper describes the benefits that unity of command at every level would bring to the American war in Afghanistan.

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    Added April 16, 2010

    The Construction of Liberal Democracy: The Role of Civil-Military Institutions in State and Nation-Building in West Germany and South Africa

    Authored by Dr. Jack J. Porter.
    West Germany’s and South Africa’s experiences remind U.S. policymakers of the tremendous obstacles and challenges that confront states as they attempt to install liberal, democratic political institutions.

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    Added April 14, 2010

    The State-Owned Enterprise as a Vehicle for Stability

    Authored by Dr. Neil Efird.
    State-owned enterprises affect stability in conflict-prone environments, and decisive control of them creates positive or negative conditions. However, it is a challenge to know how and when to use these enterprises, and a good set of metrics is necessary to measure their effectiveness.

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    Added April 08, 2010

    Thinking about Nuclear Power in Post-Saddam Iraq

    Authored by Dr. Norman Cigar.
    Iraqis are debating the desirability of atomic power for their country. U.S. and international policymakers will have to consider Iraqi views as they shape policy to manage the process of an orderly, safe, and peaceful nuclear reintegration of Iraq in the civilian sector while guaranteeing safeguards against both accidents and any future diversion of a nuclear program for military purposes or terrorist exploitation.

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    Added March 26, 2010

    Synchronizing U.S. Government Efforts toward Collaborative Health Care Policymaking in Iraq

    Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas S. Bundt.
    A primary catalyst in achieving our strategic ends in Iraq is through the formulation of a consolidated and cooperative strategic health care policy to enable the successful operation of the Iraqi health care system. An often-cited criticism of U.S. policy, however, is that after the end of major hostilities and transition into stabilization operations, we fall short in post-conflict planning and execution. This analysis highlights some of these operational deficiencies, and it provides recommendations for achieving a more coordinated, functional, and thereby synchronous strategic health care policy. These proposals will enable the U.S. Government (USG) to address health policy operations in stabilization and transitional phase contexts currently and in the future.

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    Added March 22, 2010

    Decisionmaking in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM: Removing Saddam Hussein by Force

    Authored by Dr. Steven Metz. Edited by Professor John R. Martin.
    The Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) is pleased to initiate its latest monograph series, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Key Decisions. SSI started this project in an effort to give leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces some important insights into how military advice was provided to the Nation’s civilian leadership during the many years—including the months before the invasion—of the war in Iraq. Dr. Metz starts this series with an impressive review of the decision to remove Saddam Hussein by force. The Strategic Studies Institute hopes that this and the succeeding monographs will generate debate on just how the United States made decisions—some of them disastrous—about Iraq. The resulting better understanding of the decisions should lead to strengthening of the processes—where appropriate—so that the military and civilian leadership forge better decisions in the future.

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    Added March 04, 2010

    Transnational Insurgencies and the Escalation of Regional Conflict: Lessons for Iraq and Afghanistan

    Authored by Dr Idean Salehyan.
    Transnational insurgencies complicate traditional counterinsurgency operations in significant ways and can lead to conflict between states. This monograph examines several transnational militant groups, assesses the prospects for conflict and cooperation over cross-border violence, and discusses current issues facing Iraq and Afghanistan.

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    Added February 17, 2010

    Do Oil Exports Fuel Defense Spending?

    Authored by Dr. Clayton K. S. Chun.
    Rising oil prices facilitate the acquisition of greater resources and perhaps economic development. But oil revenues can also drive a government to finance massive military equipment purchases like Saudi Arabia did in 1979. The nature of governments that rely on raw material extraction and long-term development of military programs may affect how their current and future spending occurs regardless of oil prices. How nations decide to use their national wealth helps explain some of the perennial problems facing oil and commodity exporting nations and provides insights into their relations with other countries.

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    Added January 22, 2010

    Security and Stability in Africa: A Development Approach

    Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Clarence J. Bouchat (USAF, Ret.).
    The security and stability of Africa has recently become an important national issue. However, to be effective this growing interest must be rooted in the desire to overcome centuries of ignorance and misunderstanding about the conditions and people of Africa.

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    Added September 24, 2009

    Iraq: Strategic Reconciliation, Targeting, and Key Leader Engagement

    Authored by Captain Jeanne F. Hull.
    Military commanders and diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan have been meeting with important local officials since the inception of those conflicts. These engagements have aided commanders and diplomats alike in furthering their objectives by establishing productive relationships with those who know and understand Iraq’s complex human terrain best—the Iraqis. However, these engagements frequently take place on ad-hoc bases and are rarely incorporated into other counterinsurgency operations and strategies. In some cases, unit commanders fail to see the utility of using these engagements at all--an oversight that contributes to deteriorating security situations and loss of popular support.

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    Added September 16, 2009

    Russian Elite Image of Iran: From the Late Soviet Era to the Present

    Authored by Dr. Dmitry Shlapentokh.
    Increasing numbers of Russian intellectuals became disenchanted with the West, particularly after the end of the USSR, and looked for alternative geopolitical alliances. The Muslim world, with Iran at the center, became one of the possible alternatives.

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    Added September 16, 2009

    Baghdad ER--Revisited

    Authored by Colonel Erin P Edgar.
    The China Dragons of the 28th Combat Support Hospital deployed in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from September 2006 until November 2007. Their service epitomizes the strides that have been made in military combat medicine.

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    Added September 16, 2009

    Escalation and Intrawar Deterrence During Limited Wars in the Middle East

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    This monograph seeks to analyze military escalation and intrawar deterrence by examining two key wars where these concepts became especially relevant—the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. A central conclusion of this monograph is that intrawar deterrence is an inherently fragile concept, and that the nonuse of weapons of mass destruction in both wars was the result of a number of positive factors that may not be repeated in future conflicts.

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    Added August 26, 2009

    Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents: Organized Crime in Iraq

    Authored by Dr. Phil Williams.
    Criminal enterprises and activities had a debilitating impact and made the attainment of U.S. objectives in Iraq much more difficult. Organized crime inhibited reconstruction and development and became a major obstacle to state-building; the insurgency was strengthened and sustained by criminal activities; sectarian conflict was funded by criminal activities and motivated by the desire to control criminal markets; and more traditional criminal enterprises created pervasive insecurity through kidnapping and extortion. Organized crime also acted as an economic and political spoiler in an oil industry expected to be the dynamo for growth and reconstruction in post Ba’athist Iraq.

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    Added July 02, 2009

    Pakistan - The Most Dangerous Place in the World

    Authored by Dr. Larry P. Goodson.
    Each month a member of the SSI faculty writes an editorial for our monthly newsletter. This is the Op-Ed for the July 2009 newsletter.

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    Added June 25, 2009

    2009 Key Strategic Issues List

    Edited by Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria, II.
    The purpose of the Key Strategic Issues List is to provide military and civilian researchers a ready reference for issues of special interest to the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense.

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    Added May 04, 2009

    Preventing Iraq from Slipping Back into Sectarian Chaos

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    Each month a member of the SSI faculty writes an editorial for our monthly newsletter. This is the Op-Ed for the May 2009 newsletter.

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