In the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, many of Iraq’s Shia choose to join the Popular Mobilization Forces instead of enlisting with the Iraqi military.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State has recently experienced significant setbacks at the hands of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-majority alliance backed by the United States.
Iraq’s al-Hashd al-Shaabi militias have challenged the state’s monopoly on force but have also played a critical role in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Following the expulsions of several senior members of the Nusra Front, new information on the group has spilled out onto social media.
Details regarding internal disputes in the Nusra Front have recently leaked out raising questions about the future of the group.
Iraq’s formal military institutions struggle to attract recruits as many potential soldiers choose to join informal militias in the Popular Mobilization Forces.
In a recent audio recording, the spokesperson of the Islamic State marks the group's first year, admonishes rivals, and fuels sectarian tensions.
With the recent capture of the city of Palmyra, the Islamic State has reasserted its anti-Assad credentials and put another tremendous economic strain on the Syrian government.
Rumors are again circulating regarding the health of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, sparking discussions of potential replacements and their necessary qualifications.
Jordan, a key United States in the region, may be expanding its anti–Islamic State activities further into Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic State is no longer winning, but recent victories against the militant group have done little to address the long-standing grievances at the root of its emergence and continued appeal.
Assad seems to be giving up on the reintegration of rebel-held Syria into the state apparatus. Thus, entrenching himself among the militias and what remains of his army, he has precious little left to offer anyone else—no carrot, only stick.
Carnegie scholars assess the Middle East in the year ahead, including potential game changers that could have a big impact for the future of the region.
Iraqis have put their hope in the country’s newly elected prime minister, Haider al-Abadi. To rule Iraq effectively, Abadi must not only take on the Islamic State but also move out of the shadow of his own predecessor.
By arguing against Iraqis being drawn into cross-border sectarian struggles, Muqtada al-Sadr has positioned himself as an important voice of reason within the Shia community that dominates Iraq.
In the war against the Islamic State, Iraq’s Sunni tribes are all the rage. They are the commanding high ground on the battlefield’s “human terrain.”
Most Islamic State fighters on the ground are local Syrians and Iraqis. Many of them are conservative and religious, but the vast majority are not ideological Salafi-jihadis.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s four-pronged strategy against the Islamic State is fraught with trade-offs, risks, and hidden costs that need to be addressed.
Obama’s strategy is a positive step forward after years of relative inaction on part of the United States, but it is far from comprehensive.
Leaving Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul in rebel hands could fatally undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s already weak legitimacy as a national leader. But even if the army were to recapture all or most of the rebel-held cities, the Mosul debacle has already dealt a tremendous blow not only to Maliki but to the Iraqi state as well.