Violent Non-State Actors and Complementary Governance: What ISIS, Hizballah and FARC Have in Common

In the absence of a strong state, insurgents, traffickers or tribal warlords may provide political and socioeconomic goods through arrangements we characterize as ‘complementary governance.’ When formulating an effective response to this security challenge, policymakers and researchers must account for the complex connections and interactions between multiple non-state governing entities.

Read More

Is Military Intervention in Libya the Answer?

Three years after the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, Libya is fragmented into an alarming number of armed groups. France has called for action to be taken against what it calls the ‘terrorist threat on Europe’s doorstep.’ In light of a number of questionable post-9/11 interventions, the issue is whether military intervention is, in fact, the way to contain Libya’s instability, or whether it would only sink the country further into chaos.

Read More

Countering ISIS: A Special Kind of Insurgency

It is commonplace these days to refer to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām (i.e. Greater Syria) – henceforth, ISIS – as the greatest threat to regional, international, and for some countries, even national security. Yet, one of the biggest questions that needs to be answered is, how do we counter ISIS? In what follows, the particular character of the group is identified in order to suggest appropriate countering strategies.

Read More

ISIS’ Success in Iraq: A Testimony to Failed Security Sector Reform

The pace with which the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Shām (ISIS) was able to seize territory in Iraq since June 2014 has been mindboggling. What has been a stunning military success for the foreign mujahedeen of ISIS, can only be described as a humiliating defeat for Iraq’s security sector and points to a breakdown in the security sector reform (SSR) efforts in Iraq.

Read More

Iraq after ISIS: Uncoupling Sectarian Differences from Political Contention – Part Two

While ISIS has had considerable success in capturing land, weapons, and funds in Iraq, they now confront a wide coalition of forces emerging in opposition. It is hard to imagine their success continuing in the face of the support being offered by Iran, Syria, Russia, the U.S., and Iraq’s Shia militia. It is also unlikely that support by Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States will continue if ISIS emerges as a true proto-state.

Read More

Iraq after ISIS: Uncoupling Sectarian Differences from Political Contention – Part One

There is perhaps no greater need for SSR than in a state on the verge of dissolution, as is the recent case of Iraq. Indeed, a good proportion of its security forces may have already left the field of battle in the face of foreign forces or insurgents. One way to assess this loss is to look to the legitimacy of the current Iraqi regime and the relationship between religion and the state.

Read More