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Iraq astir, Iran at bay

Understandably, 15 years after Saddam’s departure, many Iraqis are frustrated that their lot has not improved. This is the backdrop against which Shi’ite cleric and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has been inciting the Iraqi masses to oust the Iranian-backed government. 

Biblio File: Eyewitness with Empathy and Insight

An eye-witness to some of the most violent episodes in the recent history of both Iraq and Syria, Jonathan Spyer has written an intensely personal, and readable account of the most turbulent period in Middle East history since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire...

The southern Syrian “ceasefire” and fall of Mosul

With the US, Russia and Jordan agreeing to a ceasefire in south-west Syria and the recapture of Mosul from Islamic State, this Update looks at the implications for the region and in particular how these new developments could affect Israel's security and Kurdish independence.

Biblio File: The Roots of the ISIS Caliphate

Brian Fishman's The Master Plan provides a comprehensive history of the Islamic State's (ISIS) strategic evolution, covering the personalities and events that shaped one of the most feared terrorist-insurgent groups that has ever existed. Eminently readable, in places even amusing - no small feat in a book about ISIS - Fishman flips with ease between the overview and the granular to demonstrate his points...

As ISIS falters

The Islamic State, whose main slogan in Arabic is Baqiya watatamadad (remaining and expanding), has in reality been contracting since the high point of its advance in the autumn of 2014. Its eventual demise, at least as a quasi-state entity, is assured.

But Syria is host not only to the war against ISIS, but to a series of other, interlocking conflicts.

Both PA and Hamas face financial squeeze/ Mosul and the lessons...

This Update features two articles about the serious financial problems of both the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. In addition, it includes an article from two former senior American military officers about the lessons being learned from Israel's struggle with Hamas' terror tunnels in Gaza in the battle for Mosul, which is also believed to be riddled with tunnels by ISIS.

The battle for Mosul, and its aftermath

Various sources report today that facing ISIS's 5,000-10,000 combatants in Mosul, about 65,000 Iraqi troops from different units have massed to dislodge ISIS. Some Arab sources place the total number of combatants of the anti-ISIS coalition at almost 140,000 fighters...

The Retreat of ISIS

Two years ago, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq's (ISIS) blitz assault across a swath of land as big as the United Kingdom led to the establishment of the self-proclaimed Caliphate and fragmented both Syria and Iraq. The recent defeats inflicted on Islamic radicals, however, have considerably shrunk the areas under ISIS control in both countries.

Crisis in Baghdad/ ISIS in Libya

This Update deals with two major crisis areas in the Middle East, both with profound effects on the fight against ISIS.

One is the major political crisis in Iraq, where the government of Prime Minister Abadi seems paralysed and under threat from radical Shi'ite groups opposed to his reforms designed to reduce corruption and provide a role for the disaffected Sunni minority in government. This led radical militias to storm the Iraqi parliament last week - with major implications for the fight against ISIS in Iraq.

The other is the consolidation and extension of an ISIS emirate in Libya, just 320 kilometres from Europe.

The Mosul Dam: Iraq’s forgotten crisis

In late February the US Embassy in Baghdad released a statement warning that the Mosul Dam is at a ‘a serious and unprecedented risk of catastrophic failure with little warning.' The Embassy confirmed that such an event would represent an unprecedented humanitarian and strategic crisis for Iraq.