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The "Islamic State" Crisis and U.S. Policy

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Congressional rept.

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The Islamic State is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that has expanded its control over areas of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria since 2013, threatening the security of both countries and drawing increased attention from the international community. There is debate over the degree to which the Islamic State organization might represent a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland or to U.S. facilities and personnel in the region. The Islamic State IS was initially part of the insurgency against coalition forces in Iraq and has in the years since the 2011 U.S. withdrawal from Iraq expanded its control over areas of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria. The Islamic State has thrived in the disaffected Sunni tribal areas of Iraq and in the remote provinces of Syria torn by the civil war. In the summer of 2014, Islamic State-led forces, supported by Sunni Arab tribalists and groups linked to ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, advanced along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, seizing multiple population centers including Mosul, Iraq s second largest city. Since then, IS forces have massacred Iraqi civilians, often from ethnic or religious minorities, and recently executed two American journalists who had been held in captivity. The Islamic State s tactics have drawn the ire of the international community, increasing U.S. attention on Iraq s political problems and on the civil war in Syria. At the NATO summit in Wales during September 4-5, 2014, the Administration began to unveil a comprehensive strategy to defeat the Islamic State organization. As articulated by President Obama and other senior U.S. officials, the strategy is to use a combination of military action, support for partner forces in Iraq and Syria, diplomacy, intelligence sharing, and financial actions to try to progressively shrink the geographic and political space, manpower, and financial resources available to the Islamic State.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Unconventional Warfare

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