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The Iraqi Civil War

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Benjamin Foldy

on 5 November 2014

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Transcript of The Iraqi Civil War

IS is the result of a complex and long-developing interplay of factors at the international, regional, and domestic levels of analysis. Answering "what" or "who" is IS is impossible without understanding American FP in ME since 1979, particularly in two spheres: int'l jihadism and Iraq

1990s: Old friends, new enemies
One threat contained...
American ME security policy in the 1990s concerned largely with deterring and degrading Iraq. "Keep Saddam in his box."
Narratives Converge over Iraq
1979: "Watershed Year" (Hudson)
1979 a "watershed year" for USFP interests in the region. Events at international, regional, and domestic level.

Degrading Iraq
UNSC sanctions regime in place from 1990
Military Threat
Iraqi Army in 2003 had <1/3 its 1990 strength
Given post-war knowledge, successful in deterring chem/bio weapon development
Nearly all security forces became internally focused on regime maintenance
Explaining the rise of IS: The "serpent between the rocks"
Who/What is IS?
Interwoven Narratives
Iraq Timeline: FGW- 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War
SGW- 1990-91- Desert Shield/Storm
1990-2002- UNSC Sanctions Regime and No-Fly Zone
TGW- US Invasion and Occupation 2003- 2011 (Civil War from 2006-onward)
Jihadism Timeline: 1980s- Afghanistan
1990s- D.Shield leads eventually to AQ targeting America in jihad, int'l terror with series of bombings of American targets, counterterrorism efforts emphasize intelligence, prevention, and targeted strikes
9/11/01- GWOT takes CT from intel to military mission.

2. Transnat'l Terrorism Networks
Shi'a Iran begins developing transnational non-state networks (ex. Hezbollah in Lebanon, SCIRI in Iraq) while Sunni radicals drawn to mountains of Afghanistan to be
and fight the Soviets with American and Saudi support
3. Sharpened Shi'a-Sunni Divide
Iran's Shi'a revolutionary gov't threatens legitimacy of
S. Arabia's Sunni monarchy; Saddam's Shia-majority-but-"republican" secular Iraq. Saddam invades Iran in 1980, with Saudi/US financial and logistical support (including US-produced
chemical weapons, also used against Kurds)
4. New Regional
End of significant Soviet engagement in the area- commitment of 100,000+ to Afghanistan and detachment of Egyptian and Iraqi clients. American unilateralism in region soon to be relatively unchecked.
Iraq and Iran both aspire to increase influence in the Gulf.
Saudi "petro-Islam" spreads cash and ideology across the globe while supporting the interests of a transnational Sunni bloc.
1. Politico-military Islamic Revival
Fragmentation of the secular republican camp with Egyptian peace deal ends promise of secular republican ideology for "re-birth," Shi'a velayat-e-faqih and Sunni Wahhabi/Salafi ideologies gain in salience and appeal.
Late 1980s:
Soviets withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989, entire Soviet Union collapses soon after

Victorious mujahadeen look to consolidate gains in Afghanistan and spread jihad (GIA, Chechnya)

Iran-Iraq War ends in stalemate 200,000+ KIA, 200,000+ civilians, ~150,000 killed in Iraqi ethnic cleansing in the north

1990-91: Desert Shield/Storm
Saddam's Iraq turns on American/Saudi sponsorship and pursues regional ambitions on the Arab side of the Gulf.

Iraq invades Kuwait and threatens Saudi Arabia, accusing Kuwait of slant-drilling and exceeding OPEC quotas. Iraq also threatens Saudi over balance of payments.

The Choice
Bin Laden meets with Saudi defense minister to offer mujahadeen against Saddam
Saudis choose instead for American troops and coalition in Operation Desert Shield and ejection of Iraq from Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. American troops stay in Saudi Arabia after the war.
The Benefit
An American-led international coalition routs Iraq from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is successfully defended.
The Cost
American troop presence in the Holy Land alienates salafists, incl. Bin Laden, who view al-Sauds as having broken compact in which legitimacy is granted on condition of protecting Mecca and Medina.
American troops in S. Arabia become both rhetorical and actual target. Bin Laden proclaims H of Saud illegitimate in '92 and declares war on America in '96
1989 per capita income: $3510
1996 per capita income: $450
Gov't food rations: 1000 cal/day
'89-'97: Inf. Mort: 47/1000->107, <5: 56/1000->137
Sharp decreases in literacy and primary schooling
45% of Iraqi pop'n <14 in 2000
Enabled Saddam and Ba'ath to control society completely
Gov't "agencies" (small shops) became primary food suppliers
Ration "book" enabled database to track every citizen
Sanction-evading kickbacks enriched Ba'ath elites and Republican Guard

...another unchecked.
Development of networks and global spread (Sudan, Algeria, Chechnya, AfPak, etc)

Taliban takes power in Afghanistan in 1996

Rise of jihadist attacks on US targets worldwide:

1993 WTC bombing, 1995 Riyadh bombing, 1998 bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (carried out on 7 August- anniversary of US troops landing in S. Arabia), and 2000 USS Cole bombing in Yemen
Bush Doctrine (2002)- Four elements
1. Attacking states that harbor terrorists
2. Preemptive attacks on threats (WMD)
3. Democratic regime change
4. Unilateralism
Declassified docs show Bush admin planning for Iraqi invasion immediately after 9/11.

Casus Belli: Allegations of WMD development, hosting of Abu al-Zarqawi

The Bush Doctrine Applied
No fly zone over N and S Iraq
Preemption and Unilateralism: Iraqi Freedom, 2003

Fails to get UNSC Support but Invasion by "Coalition of the Willing" begins March 20: conventional Iraqi forces quickly defeated
Baghdad falls April 9th, followed by Tikrit

May 1, 2003:
May, 2003: Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) vests itself with executive, legal, and legislative authority
First order by new authorities: de-Ba'athification and dissolution of the army.
Results: Immense loss of government capacity in all sectors
Alienation of Sunnis from post-war political order
Unemployment likely btw. 40-50%

The 1980s
The 1990s
The 2000s
From Invasion to Occupation and
With fall of regime comes security vacuum:
3 weeks of looting and general lawlessness as
the state disappears essentially
overnight. 17 of 23 State Ministries in
Baghdad are totally destroyed, damages from
these 3 weeks estimated at $12b. Rumsfeld:
"Stuff happens."
Iraqi Min of Education, 2003 photo: Teru Kuwayama
The Insurgency
Salafists and Jihadis- both native and foreign. Largely concentrated in Western Iraq (Anbar province)
Ex-Ba'ath Republican Guard and military, disenfranchised Sunni Iraqi nationals
Urban Shia, particularly followers of Moqtada al-Sadr (Mahdi army militia), launch a Shia uprising in Baghdad and the South 2004
The Government
2005 Elections: Islamist Shia coalition including SCIRI and al-Dawa takes just under 50%
Kurdish coalition takes 25%
Secular Shia take 15%
Sunni boycott and threats of violence from Ba'athists/Jihadis= 2% turnout in Anbar province
Gov't formed depends on Shia militias,
namely Badr brigade (SCIRI) and
Mahdi army (Sadr)
Abu al-Zarqawi
Jordanian-born, criminal history
Arrived late to Afghanistan, made ties and established a training camp
Differed with Bin Laden strategically, emphasizing Levant over confronting West
Used as justification for invasion under
Bush doctrine (harboring terrorists) though
no connection to Hussein's regime
The Militias
Sectarian miliitas tied to political parties, both Shia and Kurdish
Reconstruction efforts later termed "adhocracy"- little coordination, oversight, or strategic planning.
Comparison: 2007 Iraq had authorized 167 non-DoD civilians and 178 soldiers in Prov. Reconst. Teams for a country of 28 million. 116 of the civ spots filled. 1 in 333 State and USAID staff in Iraq
Vietnam: pop'n 18 mil, 1700 State dept, 6400 troops for reconstruction efforts, 1 in 25 State/USAID
Early Success
Bombings of Jordanian embassy, UN HQ, and Imam Ali (Shia) shrines
US begins attributing nearly all attacks to him, trying to sow dissension in Sunni ranks and exacerbate tensions between native Iraqis and international jihadis
From Rival to Franchise
Zarqawi and bin Laden had been rivals. Strategic differences (Levant v. West) and sectarian (Zarqawi loathed Shia, bin Laden and others found this counterproductive).
In 2004, Zarqawi finally pledges fielty to bin Laden and his group becomes AQ-Iraq. Bin Laden gets presence in most prominent fight against Americans, Zarqawi gets legitimacy.

Documents leaked in 2006 show US military referring to Zarqawi as "most successful information campaign to date," aimed at "villainizing Zarqawi" to "leverage xenophobia response."
Former Jordanian intel officer: “The Americans have been patently stupid in all of this. They’ve blown Zarqawi so out of proportion that, of course, his prestige has grown. And as a result, sleeper cells from all over Europe are coming to join him now.” He paused for a moment, then said, “Your government is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Source: Atlantic Monthly, 2006
Spiral of Civil War
Bombing of al-Askari (Shia) mosque in Samarra triggers reprisals against Sunnis by militias and government security forces.
Widespread ethnic cleansing in Baghdad as Sunnis purged through mass kidnappings and executions.
Campaign of suicide terrorism/car bombs in Shia/Kurdish areas
Source: UCLA
High death tolls;
Sectarian conflict deepens
Relative End to Sectarian Violence
1. "Success" of ethnic cleansing
2. The "Anbar Awakening"- schism between AQI and Iraq's Sunni tribes leads to "Sons of Iraq": Sunni militias and insurgents cooperating with American forces against jihadis in Anbar, paid by American forces they had been fighting months before
*Largest single act of killing in entire Iraq war actually against Yazidis in north, killing 796 in coordinated attacks
American withdrawal from Iraq
Incubating the future IS at Camp Bucca?
Source: The Soufan Group
SOFA btw. Bush and Maliki in 2008 specified troops out by end of 2011
Final troops leave Iraq on 18 Dec 2011
The same day, Sunni
parliamentarians walk-out over Maliki's plans to arrest Sunni VP,
who is tried in absentia and
sentenced to death
Late 2010-Early 2011: Arab Spring
Syrian Civil War
Anti-regime civil war develops along increasingly sectarian lines.
9 Syrian ISI fighters allowed to return home to fight, becoming the successful Al-Nusra Front.
As Syrian war eclipses Iraqi insurgency as cause celebre for int'l jihadis, Bakr al-Baghdadi attempts to claim Nusra as ISI branch but AN refuses and appeals to AQ-Zawahiri, who is unable to reconcile.
ISIraq rebrands itself as ISIraq and Syria and enters Syrian civil war, siphoning from ANF and other jihadi groups
Increasing Sunni
Integration of SOI into security forces is cautious, unfulfilled
"Arab Spring" style peaceful unrest grows against Maliki gov't in Sunni provinces.
Clashes between gov't and protesters get increasingly violent
ISIS becomes preeminent in Syria, while continuing insurgency against Iraqi gov't and Shias

"Clear, Hold, Build": Accumulation of resources and territory enabled expansions of operations
Dual purpose ops: "Breaking the Walls" campaign of prison breaks fed group with fighters, successful ops, and goodwill from Sunnis
Where Gov't Pulls Out, IS moves in
Jan 2014: Maliki aims to de-escalate by pulling gov't security forces out of Fallujah. IS forces move in and establish themselves
Iraqi security forces increasingly feeble, abandon Mosul (Iraq's 2nd largest city) to 800 fighters
What is IS?
The result of catastrophic policy failures re: both Iraq and int'l jihad
Builds "state" on failures of state-building, provides (brutal, repressive) order in disorder of violence, deprivation, and marginalization in Syria and Iraq.
IS's int'l appeal: “If you try to go to Europe illegally you can drown crossing the sea. If you go to jihad in Syria you can tell your friend or your cousin, ‘I am somebody now. I give instructions to others’.”
Iraqi sec forces lose equipment, morale, defectors, deserters- almost no actual military capability built since invasion.
Source: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/1281b63a-5cf7-11e4-9753-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3I1FeZt4O
Hawija: 300 killed in clashes
2 Maps...
A "snake moving between rocks..."
-inherently opportunistic.
An int'l movement, that draws on regional dynamics, enabled by the politics of local grievance.
A union of the tactics and methods of the Ba'ath repressive apparatus and surveillance state (extensive record keeping) and the ideology of int'l jihad
Full transcript