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The Syria conflict, now in its seventh year, remains a significant policy challenge for the United States. U.S. policy toward Syria in the past several years has given highest priority to counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL/ISIS), but also included assistance to opposition-held communities, support for diplomatic efforts to reach a political settlement to the civil war, and the provision of humanitarian assistance in Syria and surrounding countries. The counter-IS campaign works primarily "by, with, and through" local partners, per a broader U.S. strategy initiated by the Obama Administration and continued with modifications by the Trump Administration. The United States has simultaneously advocated for a political track to reach a negotiated settlement between the government of Syrian President Bashar al Asad and opposition forces, within the framework of U.N.-mediated talks in Geneva. For a brief conflict summary, see Figure 2. Since the recapture of the Islamic State's self-proclaimed capital at Raqqah by U.S.-backed forces in October 2017, Trump Administration officials have reemphasized that the United States is entering a "new phase" that will focus on "de-escalating violence overall in Syria through a combination of ceasefires and de-escalation areas." These efforts are designed to create the conditions for a national-level political process ultimately culminating in a new constitution and U.N.-supervised elections. In January 2018, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out the Administration's policy for future U.S. involvement in Syria, stating that the United States intends to maintain a military presence there to prevent a resurgence by the Islamic State. To date, the United States has directed nearly $7.7 billion toward Syria-related humanitarian assistance, and Congress has appropriated billions more to support security and stabilization initiatives in Syria and in neighboring countries. The Defense Department has not disaggregated the costs of military operations in Syria from the overall cost of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), which has reached over $18.5 billion. The executive branch has reprogrammed or requested more than $2.2 billion to train, equip, advise, and assist vetted Syrians as part of a specially authorized program in place since late 2014. Congress also has debated proposals to authorize or restrict the use of military force against the Islamic State and in response to Syrian government chemical weapons attacks, but has not enacted any Syria-specific use of force authorizations. Looking forward, policymakers may consider questions regarding the purpose, scope, and duration of the U.S. military presence in Syria, the effectiveness of U.S. cooperation with Russia, post-Islamic State governance and reconstruction, as well as the challenges of reaching a political settlement between the Asad government and a broad spectrum of armed and political opposition actors.
Fighting continues across Syria, pitting government forces and their foreign allies against a range of anti-government insurgents, some of whom also are fighting amongst themselves. Since March 2011, the conflict has driven more than 2.8 million Syrians into neighboring countries as refugees (out of a total population of more than 22 million). Millions more Syrians are internally displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance, of which the United States remains the largest bilateral provider, with more than $2 billion in funding identified to date. The United States also has allocated a total of $287 million to date to provide nonlethal assistance to select groups.
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Surrogate Warfare explores the emerging phenomenon of “surrogate warfare” in twenty-first century conflict. The popular notion of war is that it is fought en masse by the people of one side versus the other. But the reality today is that both state and non-state actors are increasingly looking to shift the burdens of war to surrogates. Surrogate warfare describes a patron's outsourcing of the strategic, operational, or tactical burdens of warfare, in whole or in part, to human and/or technological substitutes in order to minimize the costs of war. This phenomenon ranges from arming rebel groups, to the use of armed drones, to cyber propaganda. Krieg and Rickli bring old, related practices such as war by mercenary or proxy under this new overarching concept. Apart from analyzing the underlying sociopolitical drivers that trigger patrons to substitute or supplement military action, this book looks at the intrinsic trade-offs between substitutions and control that shapes the relationship between patron and surrogate. Surrogate Warfare will be essential reading for anyone studying contemporary conflict.
This book focuses on the crises facing Al Qaeda and how the mass killing of Muslims is challenging its credibility as a leader among Islamist jihadist organizations. The book argues that these crises are directly related to Al Qaeda’s affiliation with the extreme violence employed against Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the decade since 9/11. Al Qaeda’s public and private responses to this violence differ greatly. While in public Al Qaeda has justified those attacks declaring that, for the establishment of a state of ‘true believers’, they are a necessary evil, in private Al Qaeda has been advising its local affiliates to refrain from killing Muslims. To better understand the crises facing Al Qaeda, the book explores the development of Central Al Qaeda’s complex relationship with radical (mis)appropriations and manifestations of takfir, which allows one Muslim to declare another an unbeliever, and its unique relationship with each of its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The author then goes on to consider how the prominence of takfir is contributing to the deteriorating security in those countries and how this is affecting Al Qaeda’s credibility as an Islamist terror organization. The book concludes by considering the long-term viability of Al Qaeda and how its demise could allow the rise of the even more radical, violent Islamic State and the implications this has for the future security of the Middle East, North Africa and Central/South Asia. This book will be of much interest to students of political violence and terrorism, Islamism, global security and IR.
Violence and Gender in the Globalized World expands the critical picture of gender and violence in the age of globalization by introducing a variety of uncommonly discussed geo-political sites and dynamics. The volume hosts methodologically and disciplinarily diverse contributions from around the world, discussing various contexts including Chechnya, Germany, Iraq, Kenya, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Palestine, the former Yugoslavia, Syria, South Africa, the United States, and the Internet. Bringing together scholars’ and activists’ historicized and site-specific perspectives, this book bridges the gap between theory and practice concerning violence, gender, and agency. In this revised and updated edition, the scope of inquiry is expanded to incorporate phenomena that have recently come to the forefront of public and scholarly scrutiny, such as Internet-based discourses of violence, female suicide bombers, and the Islamic State’s violence against women. At the same time, new data and developments are brought to bear on earlier discussions of violence against women across the globe in order to bring them fully up to date. With an international team of contributors, comprising eminent scholars, activists and policy-makers, this volume will be of interest to anyone conducting research in the areas of gender and sexuality, human rights, cultural studies, law, sociology, political science, history, post-colonialism and colonialism, anthropology, philosophy and religion.

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