The Institute for the Study of War and AEI's Critical Threats Project conducted an intensive multi-week exercise to frame, design, and evaluate potential courses of action that the United States could pursue to defeat the threat from ISIS and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria. This first report examines America’s global grand strategic objectives as they relate to ISIS and al Qaeda and considers the nature of those enemy groups in depth and in their global context.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni and prominent official from the opposition Iraqiyya List, on December 19, 2011.
Recently Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki commenced in a wide-scale campaign to purge hundreds of former members of the Ba’ath party from Iraq’s security apparatus.
Key Takeaway: Iraq’s popular protest movement, set to recommence on October 1, may incite intra-Iraqi violence and could present a risk to US personnel and facilities in Iraq. Iraq’s popular protest movement is planning to resume mass memorial protests on the one-year anniversary of the “October Revolution” protests; these demonstrations will continue to condemn government corruption, Iranian influence, poor government services, mass unemployment, and the failure of the Iraqi government to hold security forces accountable for the mass killing of protesters in 2019. Iranian proxy militias and followers of nationalist Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are likely planning to infiltrate the anniversary protests and use them to achieve their own objectives. This co-optation of the otherwise largely peaceful protest movement may spark clashes between Sadrists, Iranian proxy militants, and Iraqi protesters. In an unlikely but most dangerous scenario, Iran’s proxies could use the chaos of mass protests as a cover for attacks on the US Embassy, on Kadhimi’s government, or on any individual or organization affiliated with the United States or the US-led Coalition.
Iraq’s new prime minister is taking assertive but risky actions against corrupt political and militia interests in the Iraqi state. His bold policies create new opportunities for the United States to help Iraq make essential reforms amidst increasingly dire political and economic conditions. However, the United States must accept the limitations that the Iraqi system will impose upon Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s freedom of action. Kadhimi’s early efforts to reform Iraq’s security, economy, and government have achieved mixed but worthwhile results. Without improved security and stalwart international support, Kadhimi’s government is likely to be whittled away by harassment and targeted violence. With US and international support, Kadhimi may be able to generate enough momentum to stabilize Iraq and improve the US-Iraqi relationship beyond his time in office.
Iran continues to escalate proxy attacks against the U.S. in Iraq, demonstrating that it remains undeterred despite the January 3 strike that killed IRGC - Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and key Iraqi proxy leader Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis and subsequent U.S. strikes. Iran’s proxy network in Iraq is advancing its campaign to compel an American withdrawal by increasing the operational tempo of its attacks on U.S. and allied personnel. Iran’s proxies are responsible for at least 15 attacks on American and U.S.-led Coalition personnel since January 3. A new militia group, Usbat al-Thairen, claimed several recent attacks, indicating that the proxy network may be reorganizing in observance of the shared vision of Soleimani and Muhandis and that Iran may have reached a new phase in its campaign to expel U.S. forces form Iraq.
Iranian proxies in Iraq have sustained attacks since the killing of Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in an attempt to provoke a US response that will lead to the expulsion of American forces from the country. View the latest interactive timeline and map within.
Iraq’s President Barham Salih asked Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi to attempt to form a government and serve as prime minister. Allawi holds no parliamentary, popular, or military leverage and is unlikely to gain the necessary political capital to address the demands of protesters or challenge parliamentary powerbrokers. Allawi will not immediately take office – his cabinet must still be formed and approved.
ISIS’s post-Caliphate insurgency in Iraq is accelerating faster than efforts to prevent it. ISIS is re-establishing capable insurgent networks in multiple historic strongholds, setting the conditions for future offensive operations against the Government of Iraq.