Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.4 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

The debate in the past over counter-ISIL strategies has tended to focus on rather stark alternatives that are based on different ways to employ U.S. military forces: disengagement, containment, and aggressive rollback using combat forces. Our strategy seeks to broaden the focus to policies beyond the military dimension. Even though U.S. leverage is limited to affect the political situations in Iraq and Syria, the United States should focus on removing the underlying conditions sustaining ISIL and other violent jihadist groups, i.e., the lack of security, justice, and political representation. In addition, the United States needs to re-evaluate how to balance the aims of the counter-ISIL campaign with future territorial and political ambitions of the Kurds, given the risk of violence between Shia and Kurds in Iraq and Turkey and the YPG in Syria. In the absence of commitments on the part of the Kurds to limit their territorial ambitions, and to avoid fueling conflict across the region, the United States should be cautious in the ways it supports the YPG and peshmerga in its counter-ISIL military campaign.

This research was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation perspective series. RAND perspectives present informed perspective on a timely topic that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND perspectives undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.