Solutions to Violent Conflict

De-Ba`thification and the Rise of ISIS

In Counterterrorism, Middle East, Religion and Conflict on November 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Aysegul Keskin Zeren

As the war against ISIS unfolds, acknowledging the conditions and events that paved the way for ISIS is crucial for rethinking strategy. As a result of a decade of instability in Iraq and more than three years of civil war in Syria, ISIS had fertile grounds and a strong support base to gain power in a wide stretch of territory in the regions. The ability of ISIS to gain significant popular support in Iraq particularly reveals how the policy of de-Ba`thification aided the rise of this extremist group.


The official de-Ba`thification process was initiated by the first two orders of the Coalition Provisional Authority in April 2003. The targets of these orders were high-level Ba`th party officials, Ba`thist leadership in public institutions, and entities that symbolized the Saddam Hussein era such as the Iraqi Army.

The Role of Diplomacy in Countering ISIS

In Counterterrorism, Middle East, Religion and Conflict on November 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Massive influx of Syrian Kurdish refugees into Turkey, September 22, 2014. Photo: EC/ECHO (Flickr)

David Cortright

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a clear and present danger to international security that must be stopped. The question is how. President Obama said there are no military solutions to this crisis, but he has sent American soldiers back to Iraq and launched air strikes there and in Syria. Recently, he ordered a doubling of U.S. troop levels in Iraq to 3,100. What’s missing so far from the U.S. response is a coherent plan for using diplomacy and political measures to weaken ISIS and halt the spread of violence in the region.

The ISIS Stalemate: It’s the Long Game

In Counterterrorism, Middle East, Religion and Conflict on November 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Ebrahim Moosa

With another U.S. aid worker beheaded by ISIS and unreported civilian deaths caused by U.S. airstrikes in ISIS controlled territories in Iraq and Syria, the conflict is taking on the features of a military stalemate.

As long as ISIS is America’s problem, there are no good medium and long-term solutions to the “caliphate” of Abubakr al-Baghdadi. Even assassinating Baghdadi would not solve the problem of the menace of ISIS, just as the execution of Osama bin Laden did not put an end to al-Qaeda. In fact, ISIS is a version of al-Qaeda on steroids.


More revealing about the civil war in Syria and Iraq is the account of Theo Padnos, the American journalist who was released by the Nusra Front after two years of captivity. The real battle in Syria, according to Padnos, is between the Nusra Front and ISIS. The two groups detest each other yet they share a common enemy in the Assad regime.


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