ICG report examines pitfalls of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy

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A new report by the International Crisis Group examines President Trump’s emerging counter-terrorism policies, the dilemmas his administration faces in battling ISIS and al-Qaeda across the Middle East and South Asia, and how to avoid deepening the disorder both groups exploit. See: Counter-terrorism Pitfalls: What the U.S. Fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda Should Avoid (Special Report N° 3, 22 March 2017).

A main dilemma facing the Trump administration is to find the right balance between military action against jihadists and policies aimed at tackling the conditions they exploit.

Counter-terrorism pitfalls which the report examines include:

  • Angering local populations whose support is critical, through indiscriminate air strikes and failure to rebuild “liberated” cities;
  • Aggravating regional rivalries between Turkish and Kurdish forces, between Shiite and Sunni tribes, and between Iran and Saudi Arabia;
  • Picking unnecessary fights with Iran, China, and others;
  • Defining the enemy too broadly to include political entities like the Muslim Brotherhood rather than isolating it; and
  • Neglecting peace processes, foreign aid, and other vital diplomatic efforts to build stability.

…[C]ounter-terrorism does not exist in a vacuum. The U.S. administration’s executive order banning entry from certain Muslim countries; the troubling rhetoric of some of its officials; the calling into question of some of the restraints imposed on military operations… all undermine its goal of protecting Americans from terrorism.

For the full report click on: Counter-terrorism Pitfalls: What the U.S. Fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda Should Avoid (Special Report N° 3, 22 March 2017).

For a related analysis by Professor Paul Rogers, see: Washington’s wars: in a fix  (Paul Rogers, Open Democracy.net, 23 March 2017).

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