The 2003 Iraq war split the Security Council, but the United Nations ultimately sustained only limited long-term damage from the incident. In the 11 years since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the council has passed over 600 resolutions on issues ranging from Iran’s nuclear program to African conflicts. Now the U.N. faces another war in Iraq, at a time when its overall credibility may be in greater danger than it was in 2003. The Security Council has played an exceedingly minor role during the past month’s crisis in Iraq. After the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria […]

Last week, following the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the United Nations raised the crisis in Iraq to a level three humanitarian disaster—its highest designation—with over 1.5 million displaced people. In an email interview, David Romano, associate professor of political science at Missouri State University, discussed the refugee situation in Iraq. WPR: What impact have refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) had in Iraq and globally since 2003? David Romano: The impact of refugees and IDPs on Iraq and globally is very multifaceted and depends on the context. After the 2003 invasion of […]

The fall of Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), suddenly put Iraq back on the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda. Although stories of fleeing Iraqi troops and stolen U.S.-supplied Humvees got most of the attention in U.S. media, the hostage-taking of 49 Turkish citizens, including special forces, diplomats and children, from the Turkish consulate in Mosul, as well as 31 other Turks from elsewhere in northern Iraq, could limit U.S. options in responding to the growing chaos in Iraq. Turkey imposed […]

As extremists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria march on Baghdad and much of the Iraqi army runs away, there has been a torrent of writing from national security experts, journalists and pundits. This made it easy to miss an important story by Greg Jaffe and Kevin Mauer about American military veterans struggling to understand why the government and military that they worked so hard to create in Iraq has failed so miserably. This is more than simply soul searching: As Jaffe and Mauer noted, the outcome of this debate could have far reaching implications for the future […]

With insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) taking the country’s second biggest city, Mosul, and advancing on the capital, Baghdad, Iraq finds itself in the worst political and military crisis since the height of the civil war in 2006-2007; the very survival of Iraq as a state is in doubt. Its political and military institutions are discredited beyond repair, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s divisive, sectarian leadership is widely blamed for fueling the unrest that feeds the ISIS advance through the Sunni Arab-dominated provinces of central Iraq. Little surprise, then, that many observers in the West, […]

One of the major issues affecting U.S. deliberations over whether to accept a nuclear deal with Iran or to cooperate with Tehran in Iraq is the question of how much Iranian foreign policy has changed under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. In fact, a comprehensive survey of Iranian foreign policy during the past year shows, from Washington’s perspective, major improvements in only a few areas, such as the regime’s nuclear diplomacy, with a harder line on some other issues and broad continuity in most cases. In the November 2013 interim deal over Iran’s nuclear program, which expires July 20 unless renewed, […]

When the Obama administration took control of U.S. foreign policy in 2009, it undertook to mitigate what it considered the damage wrought by the George W. Bush team. The Iraq War was to be wound down, although, as it happens, more or less along the timeline laid down by the previous president. Afghanistan, the forgotten war, was to be quickly turned around by a judicious application of U.S resources and attention. A deft wielding of diplomacy would end the standoff with Iran, “reset” relations with Russia and bring China into a new dialogue to solve global problems. After the massive […]

When the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched its blitzkrieg assault on Iraq, it suddenly put the entire country in play, threatening its very existence. The rapid territorial gains by the ultra-extremist Sunni militant group put enormous pressure on the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But it is not only Maliki who faces difficult and urgent choices. The Iraqi crisis is also a pressing challenge for U.S. President Barack Obama. As Obama and his advisers survey the disastrous scene, examining the possible scenarios that could emerge from the crisis and weighing the options for Washington, all […]

For years Iraq has been a deeply troubled nation spiraling deeper and deeper into sectarian violence. The primary causes were Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s exclusion of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs from power and his politicization of the Iraqi military, which the United States expended so much money and effort to build. Then sparks from Syria’s civil war leapt back across the border to ignite Iraq’s political tinderbox. Yet even the most pessimistic observers did not foresee the events of the past two weeks, as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—a jihadist movement so violent and extreme that al-Qaida disavowed […]

The United States has “a willing partner in the next Afghan president, whichever one it is,” said Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove last week. He said he was “extremely confident” that Afghanistan and the United States would be able to reach an agreement to keep in Afghanistan the 9,800 U.S. troops slated to remain there past the end of the year, when the NATO-led mission in the country officially ends. But the U.S. footprint in the country is shrinking, and if Breedlove’s confidence is misplaced, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan could soon go to zero. The U.S. […]

Editor’s note: This is Heather Hurlburt’s final “Full-Spectrum Diplomacy” column at World Politics Review. We’d like to thank her for filling in for Richard Gowan, who will be returning next week, and look forward to featuring her work in WPR in the future. This is going to be a rough week for Americans, who like their politics simple and their geopolitics even simpler. Give us plucky honest underdogs for good guys, nasty corrupt villains for bad guys, open-field battles where everyone shoots straight, and we are the most generous people on Earth. Really. Though the U.S. ranked 19th in government […]

Last week, two protesters were killed during clashes between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey’s southeast. In an email interview, Michael M. Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University, discussed the current state of Turkey-PKK peace talks. WPR: Where did Turkey-PKK peace talks and Ankara’s broader Kurdish initiative stand before the recent incidents in the southeast? Michael Gunter: The current Turkish-PKK peace process, which began with cautious hope early in 2013, stalled soon after it was launched. With good reason, the PKK has put the blame on the Turkish government. Turkish Prime Minister […]

The news from Iraq was nothing short of stunning: A group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) managed to take control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, adding to a growing expanse of territory on both sides of the border between Iraq and Syria now under the control of the ultra-extremist Sunni militant organization. As shocking as the sudden conquest was the impact it had on the population. Within hours of the Iraqi military’s retreat and the ensuing hoisting of the Islamists’ flag, half a million residents of Mosul started streaming out of the city in what […]