The Islamic State: A Counter-Strategy for a Counter-State

July 31, 2014 - Jessica D. Lewis

by Jessica D. Lewis

Many have asked what needs to be done about the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the terrorist organization that recently took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Questions range from the acceptability of airstrikes and the viability of a national unity government in Iraq to the feasibility of a counter-offensive that depends upon the remaining capacity of the Iraq Security Forces. These are important and worthy questions, and timely, because ISIS is growing stronger. But these questions preempt the rigorous analysis that is required in order to determine what the U.S. should do about ISIS and why.

Iraq Situation Report: July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014 - Nichole Dicharry

ISIS is aiming to establish normalcy in areas where it has control in Iraq. Hosting fairs and Eid celebrations represents an attempt to show the “friendly” side of ISIS, publicizing recreational activities rather than an oppressive state.

Iraq Situation Report: July 29, 2014

July 29, 2014 -

ISIS continued to challenge the Peshmerga near Sinjar, although these are not major operations and do not demonstrate a desire to control Sinjar.

Control of Terrain in Iraq: July 29, 2014

July 29, 2014 - Nichole Dicharry

On June 24, ISW assessed that the area of Udhaim was cleared by the ISF and Iraqi Shi’a militias. On July 28, however, the Defense Ministry announced the start of an operation that has thus far cleared three villages and remains ongoing. The operation appears to be prompted by an increasing number of clashes and IEDs emplaced in the city, which indicates a level of ISIS access to the area that challenges full ISF control. ISW is therefore changing the status of Udhaim from ISF controlled to contested.


Taliban Summer Offensive Shows Increasing Capability

July 29, 2014 -

The Taliban’s annual summer offensive in Afghanistan in 2014 can be characterized by waves of violence across the country and, in particular, a string of attacks ringing the capital, Kabul. The attacks appear mainly to target Afghanistan’s infrastructure, particularly its airports. Although the Taliban attempted to focus its efforts in June on the 2014 presidential election runoff, it was unsuccessful in derailing the elections or disrupting them to a notable degree. That period of concentrated effort lasted less than two weeks.

Iraq Situation Report: July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014 - Nichole Dicharry

Reports that ISIS is sending reinforcements to the vicinity of the Hamrin Dam indicate that ISIS is seeking to control the dam as a military objective rather than pursuing it as a feint to divert ISF resources away from other targets.

Iraq Situation Report: July 27, 2014

July 27, 2014 - Nichole Dicharry

Significant ISIS attacks occurred in the north, west, and east of Iraq.

Control of Terrain in Iraq: July 27, 2014

July 27, 2014 - Nichole Dicharry

ISW is placing a watch on Hit as an area that ISIS likely desires to control.

Iraq Situation Report: July 26, 2014

July 26, 2014 - Aaron Reese

ISIS efforts to control critical infrastructural like the Hamrin Dam is worrisome, as ISIS has previously utilized control over the Fallujah dam to counter the ISF and prevent water supplies from reaching southern Iraq.

Iraq Situation Report: July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014 - Nichole Dicharry

Hundreds of members of Iraqi Shi’a militias and their supporters gathered in central Baghdad to participate in parades celebrating Quds Day, an Iranian-backed annual event expressing solidarity with Palestine.