The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute conducted an intensive multi-week planning exercise to frame, design, and evaluate potential courses of action that the United States could pursue to destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.
Middle East Security Project
ISIS is using its foreign fighters and safe haven in Iraq and Syria to execute a terror campaign within Europe. ISIS’s March 22 Brussels attacks support a larger strategy to punish, destabilize, and polarize the West. ISIS will likely continue to attempt attacks in France and Belgium in 2016, using its large Francophone foreign fighter population and local supporters.
A new map from ISW showing the viewshed for Palmyra as of March 2016. Regime troops continue their attack and advance on the city and its environs.
The United States faces a geostrategic inflection in Syria that it has not yet fully recognized. The “cessation of hostilities” declared on February 11, 2016 permits Russia and the Assad regime to continue targeting U.S.
Key Take-away: The threat of large-scale attacks in North Sinai by ISIS’s Wilayat Sinai is elevated as of March 12, 2015, but this threat is not assessed to directly target the upcoming Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm al-Sheikh scheduled for March 13-15, 2015 due to heightened security in South Sinai.
Col. Harry G. Summers Jr. begins his book, On Strategy: The Vietnam War in Context, by relaying the following conversation: “‘You know you never defeated us on the battlefield,’ said the American colonel. The North Vietnamese colonel pondered this remark a moment. ‘That may be so,’ he replied, ‘but it is also irrelevant.’” As much as we may not want to admit it, in this sense, our current war against al Qaeda and their ilk resembles that of Vietnam. In fighting our post- 9/11 wars, we have won nearly every battle but are far from winning the war. How can this be? The answer lies largely in the civil military nexus that underpins how America wages war.
Despite rapidly spreading reports that Egyptian Salafi-Jihadist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, that does not appear to be the case. Initially reported by Reuters, other sources have run with the dubious story without further vetting the information.
Recent statements by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and an alleged new group called the “Soldiers of the Caliphate in the Land of Egypt” has given rise to speculation that ISIS may be seeking to expand beyond Iraq and Syria into new territories such as Egypt. This fear is compounded by the recent arrest of an individual at the Cairo airport, allegedly seeking to travel to Syria for training with ISIS.