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[IWS] CRS: THE "ISLAMIC STATE" CRISIS AND U.S. POLICY [10 September 2014]

IWS Documented News Service

_______________________________

Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy

Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Christopher M. Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Carla E. Humud, Analyst in Middle Eastern and African Affairs

Matthew C. Weed, Analyst in Foreign Policy Legislation

Rhoda Margesson, Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy

Alex Tiersky, Analyst in Foreign Affairs

September 10, 2014

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43612.pdf?x

[full-text, 22 pages]

 

Summary

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. The Administration and its allies all have ruled out

deploying combat forces to either Iraq or Syria.

 

Some assert that the U.S. strategy will attract the support of Sunnis in both Syria and Iraq in a

broad effort to defeat the Islamic State. Others assess that the strategy might have minimal effect

because local anti-IS forces will not have support from U.S. or other western combat troops.

 

For details on Islamic State operations in Iraq and U.S. policy toward Iraq since the 2003 U.S.

invasion, see CRS Report RS21968, Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights, by Kenneth

Katzman. For further information on the Islamic State’s operations in Syria, see CRS Report

RL33487, Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response, coordinated by Christopher M.

Blanchard.

 

Contents

The Islamic State ............................................................................................................................. 1

Background ......................................................................................................................... 2

The Situation in Iraq ........................................................................................................................ 2

Islamic State Goes on Offensive In Kurdish-Controlled Territory ...................................... 4

Effect on Iraqi Government Formation ............................................................................... 4

Iranian Involvement in the Iraq Crisis ................................................................................. 5

Situation in Syria ............................................................................................................................. 6

U.S. Responses and Options ............................................................................................................ 7

Actions in Iraq ........................................................................................................................... 8

Options in Syria ......................................................................................................................... 9

Authority for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State and the War Powers

Resolution ................................................................................................................................... 11

Selected Additional Issues Raised by the Crisis ............................................................................ 15

Humanitarian Impact and Response ........................................................................................ 15

Responses to Threats to U.S. Personnel, Facilities, and Citizens ............................................ 16

Possible Questions for Congressional Consideration .................................................................... 18

 

Figures

Figure 1. Iraq, Syria, and Regional Unrest .................................................................................... 13

Figure 2. Evolution of IS/ISIL and Extremist Groups in Iraq and Syria, 2002-2014 .................... 14

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 19

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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