Articles and Posts from ISQ

The crisis in Iraq has recently reached another critical juncture as ISIS renames itself and declares an Islamic caliphate in the territory it currently controls, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph. Below is a compilation of scholarly articles published in International Studies Quarterly that might give readers a better background understanding of the current situation.

What does this mean for Iraq's future?


Governments facing repeated attacks by transnational terrorist groups (such as ISIS) tend to respond by engaging in an increase in extrajudicial killings and disappearances. [Piazza & Walsh, 2009] 

 

The U.S.-sponsored democratization of Iraq was partially conceived as a means to help pacify the region. Yet [Miller, 2012] argues that it is not the level of democracy that determines a state’s war- or peace-proneness. Rather, it is the “state-to-nation balance” that better explains the degree of stability within a democratizing state.

 

The ethnic and religious composition of Iraq has long been the source of intense rivalry, political tension, and violent conflict. [Fox, 2002] examines the effects of religion on minority discrimination, concluding that religious differentiation has a unique influence on ethnic conflict.

 

The crisis in Iraq is the latest example of what [Agathangelou & Ling, 2004] describe as the transnationalization of “violence and insecurity in the name of national or communal security.” The resulting identities of ordinary Iraqis, ISIS members, and concerned third parties like the U.S. and Iran play out this “imperial politics.”

 

 

How will the current unrest in Iraq affect the rest of the region?


States plagued by chronic failure to establish order and effective rule of law are statistically more likely to host transnational terrorist groups on their territory, have their citizens participate in transnational attacks, and be the target of transnational terrorists. [Piazza, 2008] 

 

Pre-existing discord among the states within the region might actually benefit ISIS. [Maoz & San-Akca, 2012] demonstrate that state rivalries create opportunities for Non-state Armed Groups (NAGs) to acquire support and resources by strategically playing off existing enmity. They also show that a state’s decision to cooperate with NAGs increases the risk of escalation.

 

Using post-WWII Western Europe as a paradigmatic case study, [Ripsman, 2005] questions how war-prone regions stabilize. He concludes that there are two stages to peacemaking: the first engages in realpolitik to compel rivals to cooperate, while the second institutes liberal mechanisms to sustain that cooperation.  

 

[Owen, 2005] argues that there is an increased likelihood that regional alliances will form along ideological lines when faced with a threatening transnational rival ideology. He also contends that this pattern of behavior exacerbates the security dilemma.

 

 

To what extent will or should the USA, EU, and/or other parties get involved?

 

Overt military intervention that directly challenges the perpetrator is the most effective in slowing or stopping the killing during ongoing instances of genocide or politicide. [Krain, 2005] 

 

[Widmaier, 2007] analyzes the role of presidential rhetoric in the construction of crises (such as the War on Terror or the current Iraq crisis) to determine how U.S. foreign policies are legitimated, constrained, and sutured into common understandings of American identity.  

 

Iraq is a “significantly intervention-prone conflict,” which means that the likelihood of regional war is substantial without some sort of U.S./coalition presence in the country. [Biddle, Friedman, & Long, 2012] 

 

Obama recently reported that the U.S. would increase weapons transfers to Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime. [Blanton, 2005] investigates the relationship between U.S. arms sales as foreign policy instrument and the promotion of human rights and democracy, finding that the latter play a meaningful role in determining arms transfers.  

 

Scholarship on intervention in international crises reveals that while U.S. involvement is largely determined by alliance commitments and opponent actions, exports also play an indirect role in shaping long-term alliance obligations. [Fordham, 2008]

 


Is ISIS here to stay?


The longevity of terrorist groups seems to be related to the number of cooperative relationships a group has with other similar organizations, although this is conditioned by the characteristics of the state in which the group operates. [Phillips, 2013] 

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