Towards a Regional Strategy Contra ISIS

By Harrison, Ross | Parameters, Autumn 2014 | Go to article overview

Towards a Regional Strategy Contra ISIS


Harrison, Ross, Parameters


Abstract: A Regional strategy with three essential elements is needed to defeat ISIS. The first involves rolling it back in Iraq and Syria by attacking its capabilities and strategies. The second is to contain it by helping fortify weaker Arab countries that might be at risk. The third is to influence the relationships between Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and Iran, countries whose efforts will be required to defeat ISIS and end the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

**********

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attacks, President Barack Obama delivered a primetime televised speech in which he identified the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, also widely known as ISIS) as a significant threat to the United States, its allies and the overall stability of the Middle East. He also articulated several pillars of a counterterrorism strategy to "degrade, and ultimately destroy ISIL." (1)

ISIS represents a threat with three different faces. To the United States and its western allies, it is a terrorist organization. However, for Arab states, ISIS represents an insurgency without political boundaries that threatens the survival of countries [such as Iraq, Syria and Libya] in the midst of civil wars, puts at risk weak states desperately trying to avert civil war, like Lebanon and Jordan; and poses a challenge to the legitimacy of even stronger states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. When examined from a regional perspective, ISIS represents the spearhead of a broader movement threatening to sunder the Arab political order that has existed since the end of World War I, and potentially threatening non-Arab states such as Iran, Turkey and even Israel.

Any strategy to eradicate ISIS must take into account the threat's three essential aspects. To deal with it, the United States will need the capability to fight ISIS using military means, but also to strengthen the military and political capacity of individual Arab states at risk. Moreover, it will need to move beyond country-specific approaches towards a regional effort to manage the relationships between competing powers, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all of which have contributed to the instability that has allowed ISIS to flourish.

The Nature of the Threat

In the wake of 9/11, the US Department of Defense greatly increased its capacity for dealing with asymmetric threats such as al-Qaeda. United States Special Operations Command, and under it, Joint Special Operations Command, along with other parts of the military, have enhanced detection, surveillance and response capabilities against non-state opponents. However, ISIS is a hybrid organization. It uses a combination of terrorist and conventional military tactics and, atypical for asymmetric opponents, it holds large swaths of territory (in Syria and Iraq) over which it has imposed sovereignty.

Other unique aspects of ISIS could bedevil the United States and its coalition partners. First, US-led military operations against ISIS are taking place against the backdrop of civil wars in Syria and Iraq, with the additional complication that ISIS has conflated these conflicts by essentially erasing many of the border areas separating these countries. Military operations taking place within the context of two civil wars are likely to be fraught with unprecedented degrees of complexity. Unfortunately, military operations cannot be sealed off completely from the civil wars; and unintended consequences from these operations could exacerbate the conflicts and inadvertently strengthen opponents the United States has vowed to undermine. For example, the air battle now raging against ISIS in Syria in support of the Kurds could very well reinforce the Assad regime which President Obama claimed in 2011 must be replaced. (2)

Second, the US government may think it is battling only ISIS, but the threat comes from a broader political movement which military means alone cannot defeat. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Towards a Regional Strategy Contra ISIS
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.