Middle East Security

ISIS Global Strategy: A Wargame

July 2015: The United States currently faces multiple national security threats in an environment of growing disorder. ISIS is executing a sophisticated global strategy that involves simultaneous efforts in Iraq and Syria, the Middle East and North Africa, and the wider world.

Putin’s Information Warfare in Ukraine: Soviet Origins of Russia’s Hybrid Warfare

Russia has been "reflexive control" in Ukraine since early 2014 that causes a stronger adversary voluntarily to choose the actions most advantageous to Russian objectives by shaping the adversary’s perceptions of the situation decisively.

Syrian Armed Opposition Powerbrokers

March 2016: International negotiations to reach a political settlement in Syria resumed following two weeks of a “cessation of hostilities” in which the Russian air campaign in Syria decreased notably, though it did not entirely cease.

Russian-Syrian-Iranian Coalition Seizes ISIS-Held Palmyra

Pro-regime forces seized Palmyra as well as the adjacent Palmyra Airbase in Eastern Homs Province on March 27 after ISIS withdrew from the city, completing an operation that began on March 7 with the aim of recapturing the strategic crossroads.

Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria: An Islamic Emirate for al-Qaeda

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is not the only Salafi-Jihadist threat emanating from Syria. JN rivals ISIS as a sophisticated, intelligent, strategic actor in the region.


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The Institute for the Study of War launched its Middle East Security Project in November 2011. The project seeks: to study the national security challenges and opportunities emerging from the Persian Gulf and wider Arab World; to identify ways the United States and Gulf States can check Iran’s growing influence and contain the threat posed by its nuclear ambitions; to explain the shifting balance of power within the Middle East caused by recent upheaval, and assess the responses of the United States and Arab States to address these changes as they emerge.

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Salafi-Jihadi Movement Weekly Update, Jan. 10: New IS Campaign Presents Pro-Palestine Propaganda Opportunities for Sub-Saharan Affiliates

Key Takeaway: IS affiliates across sub-Saharan Africa have claimed attacks as part of the new IS global campaign and could attempt to carry out high-visibility attacks against civilians and religious sites in their areas of operation to maximize the propaganda value of the global campaign. IS central media is branding the campaign as supportive of the Palestinian cause in response to the Israel-Hamas war and is also encouraging lone-wolf attacks against civilians in the West.

Salafi-Jihadi Movement Weekly Update, October 4, 2023

Iraq and Syria. Tribal insurgent attacks against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) quintupled in the past week compared to previous weeks, a trend that will almost certainly cause the SDF to lose control over some of the population in southern Deir ez Zor province. The tribal insurgency’s increasing violence means the SDF will likely become less capable of supporting the primary US objective of countering ISIS.

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ISW in the News

MSNBC's 'The Cycle' with Jessica D. Lewis

ISW's Research Director, Jessica D. Lewis, talks about ISIS and Iraq on MSNBC's 'The Cycle," stating that ISIS has a "post-war vision to make this Caliphate a reality."

How Does the Regime Stand in Aleppo and Homs?

ISW Syria Analyst Isabel Nassief talks with Syria Deeply about the Syrian Regime's stance in Aleppo and Homs.