The Great Debate

Black and white aren’t just the colors of Islamic State’s flag

By Brian Dooley
December 22, 2015
Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014. Iraqi forces said on Sunday they retook two towns north of Baghdad from Islamic State fighters, driving them from strongholds they had held for months and clearing a main road from the capital to Iran. There was no independent confirmation that the army, Shi'ite militia and Kurdish peshmerga forces had completely retaken Jalawla and Saadiya, about 115 km (70 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Many residents fled the violence long ago. At least 23 peshmerga and militia fighters were killed and dozens were wounded in Sunday's fighting, medical and army sources said.  REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4FED5

Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

The women warriors giving ISIS nightmares

By Jason Fields
December 17, 2015

Islamic State has many enemies, both around the world and in the Middle East. But there’s one group of fighters that the men of Islamic State fear more than others because, rumors say, to be killed by them doesn’t lead to martyrdom, but to an eternity in hell. These fearsome warriors are members of the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units, and in this week’s War College, we look at the role they – and other women – are playing in the war against Islamic State.

What 100,000 U.S. boots on the ground get you in Syria

November 19, 2015
U.S. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles drive through Camp Adder before departing what is now known as Imam Ali Base near Nasiriyah, Iraq  December 16, 2011. The last convoy of U.S. soldiers pulled out of Iraq on Sunday, ending their withdrawal after nearly nine years of war and military intervention that cost almost 4,500 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives.   Picture taken December 16, 2011.  REUTERS/Mario Tama/Pool   (IRAQ - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR2VDWY

U.S. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles drive through Camp Adder before departing what is now known as Imam Ali Base near Nasiriyah, Iraq December 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Tama/Pool

Iraq will never be whole again, so what’s next?

By Peter Van Buren
May 27, 2015
People gather at the site of car bombs attack in Baghdad

People gather at the site of car bombs attack in Baghdad, May 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

When Palmyra rivaled the Roman Empire

By Mike Duncan
May 25, 2015
Tourists take pictures at the ancient Palmyra theater in the historical city of Palmyra

Tourists take pictures at the ancient theater in the historical city of Palmyra, April 18, 2008. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

The cracks in Islamic State’s business plan are starting to show

By Ora Szekely
February 20, 2015
File photo of displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walking towards the Syrian border

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk toward the Syrian border, Aug 11, 2014. REUTERS/Rodi Said/Files

Why Islamic State’s brand of horror works so well

By Arie W. Kruglanski
February 10, 2015
People walk past television screens displaying a news program, about an Islamic State video showing Japanese captive Kenji Goto, in Tokyo

People walk past television screens displaying a news program about an Islamic State video showing Japanese captive Kenji Goto, on a street in Tokyo Jan. 28, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

What Islamic State got out of burning a man alive

By Peter Van Buren
February 9, 2015
Female protesters, with pictures of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, chant slogans during a rally in Amman

Female protesters, with pictures of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, chant slogans during a rally in Amman Feb. 7, 2015. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

The 3-step guide to de-radicalizing jihadists

By Arie W. Kruglanski
November 5, 2014

Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province

It might seem hard to believe but, according to psychological science, even the most hardened jihadists can be de-radicalized.

How the West buys ‘conflict antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria (and funds terror)

By Sam Hardy
October 27, 2014

1“Many antique collectors unwillingly support terrorists like Islamic State, ” Michel van Rijn, one of the most successful smugglers of antique artifacts in the past century, told German broadcaster Das Erste this month.