Rolling Back the Islamic State - RAND Corporation

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Rolling Back the Islamic State Seth G. Jones, James Dobbins, Daniel Byman, Christopher S. Chivvis, Ben Connable, Jeffrey Martini, Eric Robinson, Nathan Chandler

C O R P O R AT I O N

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Cover: Iraqi forces advance against Islamic State militants in Mosul (Suhaib Salem, Reuters).

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Preface

In 2014, the Islamic State conducted a blitzkrieg into Iraqi cities, such as Mosul, and seized significant chunks of territory in Syria and Iraq. Its leader, Abu Bakr al‑Baghdadi, declared a pan-Islamic caliphate and eventually expanded the group to include eight formal provinces; more than a dozen informal provinces; and tens of thousands of inspired individuals across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and North America. This report examines the Islamic State and offers a global strategy to roll the group and its movement back. It assesses key coun‑ tries where the Islamic State has controlled territory: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria, Egypt, and Afghanistan. It also analyzes the group’s global efforts to spread its ideology; move money, material, and people; secure resources; and conduct attacks. The report should be of interest to poli‑ cymakers, academics, and general audiences that want to learn more about the Islamic State and strategies to counter the group. This research was sponsored by a generous grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD conducts research and analysis on defense and national security topics for the U.S. and allied defense, foreign policy, homeland security, and intelligence communities and foundations and other nongovernmental organizations that support defense and national security analysis. For more information on the International Security and Defense Policy Center, see www.rand.org/ nsrd/ndri/centers/isdp or contact the director (contact information is provided on the web page).

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Contents

Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii Figures and Tables. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix Acknowledgments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .