ISIS

The Jihadi Threat 5: Drivers of Extremism

Jihadism has always been produced by a confluence of factors. Some individuals are motivated to join jihadist movements by ideology, the desire for meaning and belonging, anger at the West, even wanderlust. Other conditions enable jihadism to flourish. They include the volatile mix of shifting demographics, notably a surge of youth, higher literacy, and greater social aspirations intersecting with economic woes, growing unemployment, and deepening political malaise or disillusionment.

The Jihadi Threat 4: Whither Jabhat Fateh al-Sham?

By 2016, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Syria (originally known as the Nusra Front) was al-Qaeda’s most successful franchise. Its name means Front for the Conquest of Sham (an area that covers more than Syria). It was formally announced in 2012, but it had roots in earlier incarnations as both al-Qaeda in Iraq (2004–06) and the Islamic State of Iraq (2006–13).

The Jihadi Threat 3: Whither al-Qaeda?

Once the uncontested leader of global jihadism, al-Qaeda has been dealt two blows since 2011: its charismatic leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed by the United States in May 2011; and in mid-2014, it was eclipsed by ISIS and a new “caliphate.” Al-Qaeda’s shift away from public view may be strategic and deliberate. It has shaped global jihadism in subtle and shadowy ways in recent years, even as it faded from public view.

The Jihadi Threat 2: Whither the Islamic State?

In the twenty-first century, the most stunning development in radical Islamist ideology was the creation of the Islamic State in 2014. ISIS is a descendent of al-Qaeda, but it has propagated an interpretation of jihadism both more urgent and aggressive than any previous group’s.

The Jihadi Threat 1: The Future of Extremism

Jihadism has evolved dramatically and traumatically since the 9/11 attacks. Movements, leaders, targets, tactics, and arenas of operation have all proliferated in ways unimagined in 2001. The international community has mobilized unprecedented force against an array of jihadis, with mixed results. The United States alone has spent trillions of dollars—in military campaigns, intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security, and diplomacy—to counter jihadism.

Putin Will Pay a High Price for Trump’s Friendship

Successful politicians usually enjoy their fair share of luck along the way. With the election of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin received the luckiest break of all. Instead of continued isolation, the Russian president will get yet another reset, with several long-term goals – a recognized zone of influence, non-interference in domestic affairs, an equal relationship with the United States – within his grasp.

Deconstructing the U.S.-Russian Impasse Over Syria

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The Beginning of the End of Russia’s Estrangement from the West

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The Looming Problem of Tal Afar

The opening weeks of the operation to liberate the ISIS-held Nineveh province, which aims to expel ISIS from the seat of its caliphate in Mosul, has seemingly gone quite well. The advances made by the coordinated units of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the Kurdish peshmerga has been steady, cautious even, as villages and towns have been retaken from a northern front toward Bashiqa, to an eastern and southern front from Qayyarah toward Hamdaniya (Bakhdida) and Bartella, to the very outskirts of the city of Mosul itself.

Aleppo as a Path to Invincibility

Monday was a fateful day for U.S.-Russia relations. Both sides told each other that they had nothing more to talk about in Syria. President Vladimir Putin that same day made history by drafting a law that read like a dark joke about the two countries’ state of mutual respect.

The Kremlin submitted a draft law to parliament ending Russia’s participation in a treaty that had both Russia and the U.S. disposing of their stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium. The bill also includes a list of mostly impossible conditions under which Moscow would reinstate its adherence to the treaty.

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