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Queen’s Global Markets A PREMIER UNDERGRADUATE THINK-TANK ISIS and the Middle East Kyle Butler | Allan Lee | Sarah Fadel | Shahaan Azhar 10.29.2014 The.

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Presentation on theme: "Queen’s Global Markets A PREMIER UNDERGRADUATE THINK-TANK ISIS and the Middle East Kyle Butler | Allan Lee | Sarah Fadel | Shahaan Azhar 10.29.2014 The."— Presentation transcript:

1 Queen’s Global Markets A PREMIER UNDERGRADUATE THINK-TANK ISIS and the Middle East Kyle Butler | Allan Lee | Sarah Fadel | Shahaan Azhar The Fate of Hegemony in the Middle East

2 2 QGM Agenda 1.Religion and the War on Terror 2.Current ISIS Operations 3.Key Players: strategic interests in the Middle East 4.Conclusions & Predictions

3 3 QGM Geographic Breakdown of Ideologies Religious discrepancies in the Middle East insinuate conflict Source: The Shia Revival

4 4 QGM The War on Terror: U.S.’ Failure The United States made a number of decisions which resulted in its failure in the “war on terror” Ignoring Key Players Ineffective Iraqi Government Source: Huffington Post  The US failed to deal with two key players during the climax of the war on terror: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan  Donors from Saudi Arabia have contributed the majority of funds to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide  In addition Bin Laden was a member of the Saudi elite as well his father was an associate of the Saudi monarch  Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence assisted in the evacuation of thousands of top commanders of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda  The US failed to confront both of these players because they are important American allies  Saudi Arabia is a key market for American arms as well a key source of oil  The US bears a large amount of responsibility for political turmoil that has occurred in Iraq  US put a tremendous amount of pressure on Baghdad to complete its transformation to a inclusive democratic government  American officials including Vice President Joe Biden and Brett McGurk supported Maliki over other candidates  The Obama administration had been pushing out Maliki since June which resulted in another rushed appointment of al-Abadi  America has tried to rush the Iraqi political process which has resulted in the poor results

5 5 QGM Iraq’s Leadership Will Iraq’s new leadership result in change? Saddam HusseinNouri al-MalikiHaider al-Abadi Source: BBC  Committed vast atrocities by using chemical weapons against Kurds and Shia citizens during his thirty year tenure  Continual marginalization of Kurdish and Shia population fueled bitter animosity between various sects  Deposition created an opportunity for Iraqi Shias to gain greater control of the country  Maliki was elected, largely with backing from the US, with the goal of restoring peace between the Iraqi factions  Instead, Maliki took the occasion to seek revenge against the Sunni brutalities by handing over the majority of legislative power to Shias  This has insinuated the current crisis as ISIS gains support from enraged Sunnis  New PM as mounting pressure caused Maliki to resign  Abadi has the incredibly difficult task to rebuild trust between the Government, Sunnis, and Kurds  Although he belongs to the fairly extreme Dawa party, his political stance during his tenure was generally more moderate than those of both his predecessor and his party  Picture of Hussein

6 6 QGM ISIS Background Beginnings of the world’s most radical extremist organization ISIS Origins Recent Uprising  Originally founded as Al Qaeda’s Iraqi offspring, but has separated due to differences in ideology regarding use of brutality and force  After gaining much influence in the early 2000s, successful American lead strikes as well as local backlash for ISIS brutality had all but decimated ISIS forces and support  As American troops withdrew, ISIS focused on prison breaks to free and recruit terrorists and Hussein’s ranks of experienced ex-commanders  Vision of establishing an Islamic State based upon radical interpretation of Islam among Sunni majority districts among Iraq, Syria, and beyond Source: Wikipedia  Took advantage of civil war in Syria to recruit members and promote extremist ideology  Victories against Syrian government provided funding, weapons, and battle seasoned extremists that allowed ISIS to confront Iraqi military ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND THE LEVANT

7 7 QGM ISIS Conquest The speed and ruthlessness of the Iraq Northern Offensive caught the world off guard Source: (Map) US Officials, Institute for the Study of War, The Long War Journal

8 8 QGM ISIS Conquest The speed and ruthlessness of the Iraq Northern Offensive caught the world off guard Iraq Northern Offensive Source: (Map) US Officials, Institute for the Study of War, The Long War Journal  After capturing the major city of Fallujah in January, the Iraqi government halfheartedly fought back with little success  In June, 800 ISIS militants captured Mosul overnight defeating 30,000+ Sunni soldiers  ISIS overran Syrian and Iraqi military bases as well massacred villages at a time, destroying the remaining confidence in Iraqi soldiers  ISIS took advantage of panic to attack multiple cities while Iraqi army was in disarray Map of ISIS conquests on June 23, with the majority of gains coming after June 5 th Mosul attack

9 9 QGM ISIS Power Unprecedented military and financial resources for a terrorist organization Key Resources Source: (Map) Aaron Y. Zelin, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence  Richest terrorist organization with over $1 billion  Large cache of US military arms, mortars, and armored vehicles captured from fleeing Iraqi army  Steady stream of revenue from illicit business activities o I.e. Smuggling oil and gas, selling electricity to Syrian government, collecting tax and ransom o Many new recruits were attracted to ISIS due to high wages that few jobs could provide o Money used to buy black market weapons Areas of Strength  Many battle hardened extremists with experience fighting against Americans and Assad  Fast moving strikes in parallel with suicide attacks are unpredictable tactics that are hard to fend against  Powerful social media campaign that instills fear in opponents and attracts recruits that include foreign jihadists  Professionally designed propaganda focuses on marginalization and oppression of Sunnis by Shia and has been used effectively to recruit and gain local support o Extensively uses videos, magazines, and news to promote ideology

10 10 QGM Current ISIS Situation Halting ISIS and the counterattack US Action Source: Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, Vox.com Obama’s ISIS Strategy  Repeatedly stressed “no boots on ground” policy and stated that the conflict can only be resolved by Iraqis  US and allies have sent over military advisors and launched coalition airstrikes against ISIS targets  Freeing ISIS held territory will be a long term endeavor driven mainly by Iraqi forces Counter Attack 1: Air Strikes Main Defense Against ISIS Short Term  Air strikes has worked effectively in repelling large scale ISIS attacks  Pipelines and refineries targeted to stop main source of ISIS cash flow  Targets also include heavy artilleries and vehicles that have delivered ISIS game changing firepower Counter Attack 2: Local forces Long Term Solution (6-12 months)  Iraqi army is mainly on the defensive but should hold out well since the majority of Iraqi held territory is now of Shia majority with loyal soldiers and tribes  Structural changes within the army will be required to fix corruption, poor training, and moral before launching offensive against ISIS  US currently arming and training fiercely patriotic Kurdish and moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS

11 11 QGM Turkey  Despite public disapproval, privately Turkey stands to benefit from ISIS’ existence  Turkey will refuse to cooperate with NATO requests for military support and access to its military base since ISIS allows Turkey to absolve itself temporarily from its longstanding troubled relationship with the Turkish Kurds, including the terrorist organization PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party)  Turkey may help fight ISIS if a no-fly zone is established against the Syrian regime, which would eliminate Assad’s strategic air power advantage over rebels  We believe that Turkey’s desire to stifle Kurdish power outweighs its desire to see the Assad regime topple and as such, Turkey will continue to abstain from intervening in the fight against ISIS Why the NATO nation is unwilling to fight ISIS Turkey has been criticized for its role as a bystander Source: Foreign Policy Turkey’s Foreign Policy

12 12 QGM Syria Opportunistic extremists intensify the battle for supremacy Source: The Economist, BBC A blessing in disguise  The power vacuum and armed conflict allowed ISIS to easily capture vast territory in Syria.  There has been widespread conflict between various Sunni based rebel groups and ISIS, although they share the same goal.  The Syrian government will refrain from directly fighting ISIS. Instead it will conserve its resources and wait for international forces to weaken the group.  As the international coalition attacks ISIS, the Syrian government can consolidate its troops and eliminate other Sunni groups vying for control  Ultimately, the Syrian government will be an unlikely beneficiary of the current conflict

13 13 QGM Saudi Arabia The Gulf’s most powerful country remains fearful of reprisal Source: Financial Times, Huffington Post Current Operations Future ActionsLong-term effects  We believe that the Kingdom will side with Iran for the first time in its diplomatic history, since ISIS directly undermines the Islamic beliefs that the Saudi state are built upon  The KSA has been funding Sunni factions to fight against Bashar Al- Assad’s Shia-led government for the past three years in Syria without much success  Saudi Arabia will only remain impartial with Iran until the conflict is over. Following the demise of ISIS, it will once again resume its plan to debilitate the Shia power  Riyadh will also devise a strategy to gain control of Shia-ruled Syria in order to prevent the Iranian alliance from forming  The Saudi government sees this as an opportunity to consolidate the region and extend their powerful influence  The kingdom will continue to support various groups that seek to defeat the ISIS  However, Saudi will refrain from directly supplying military, logistical, or intelligence-based resources and assets out of apprehension regarding repercussions from ultra-conservative nationals

14 14 QGM Iran An unusual alliance convolutes an already complex situation Source: Wall Street Journal, The Star  Iran’s mission is to create an alliance between Shia-majority countries so that it challenge regional powers  As a result of Iran’s long-term plans, Iran was the first country to aid Iraq against the ISIS assault  Iran will continue to quell the extremist threat in Iraq using all means necessary. It will also continue to support the Syrian government against Sunni rebel groups  Iran will likely appear stronger after this conflict. By helping get rid of extremist Sunni rebel groups in both Iraq and Syria, it will be in a position to further challenge Saudi Arabia as the dominant player in the region and will move closer to creating a Shia alliance. Iran’s Plan for a Shia Nexus

15 15 QGM The United States in the Middle East America continues its decade-long struggle to establish stability given its deteriorating status as the world’s Moral Leader Expected Foreign Policy The U.S. Juggling Act  We believe that American policy will be directed at finding a U.S.-friendly government, whether democratic or not, especially since most democratically elected or militaristically enforced governments in the region perpetuate extremist Islamic regimes  America will attempt to leverage its diplomatic relations with key players Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia to weaken the Assad Regime, and ultimately remove the disorder that fuels ISIS’ operations

16 16 QGM Resolution of the Iranian Nuclear Crisis  Survival contingent on Instability  ISIS can only survive as long as there is disorder amongst its neighbors, but once that is resolved, the new status quo will defeat it  ISIS itself has no ability to create the new status quo  Iranian Nuclear Crisis  Resolution of Iranian nuclear issue will be fundamental to order  Iranians feel threatened by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, so they support Assad in Syria; they must feel secure before abandoning Assad regime  Reconstitution of Iraq and Syria  A reconstituted Iraq and Syria will be strong enough to topple ISIS and be more successful at dealing with similar groups in the future The United States must work with regional players to resolve the Iranian nuclear program How to Defeat ISISFeasibility  The U.S. continues to be the global hegemon  U.S. can use its influence to achieve regional order  The U.S. has already made unprecedented moves towards accepting the Iranian Nuclear Program  Obama administration has engaged in serious and positive discussions with Iran  American Policy can reasonably impose a loose resolution between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran  Unlike other issues such as the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran seem willing to cooperate on ISIS  In general, the costs of enforcing undemocratic regimes weaken groups like ISIS over time. History is on Democracy’s side in the long term


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