Overwatch: Crisis Brief
Overwatch: Crisis Brief
Institute for the Study of War
Crisis Brief is a new special edition of ISW's Overwatch podcast series intended to provide timely updates on unfolding crises with implications for U.S. national security.
Iraq Crisis Brief: Iranian Proxies Expand Efforts to Oust US Forces from Iraq
Iran’s proxy network in Iraq has escalated rocket attacks, stood up at least four new Shi’a militia groups, and diversified its targets and methods of attack. These efforts aim to wear down US forces and eventually compel their withdrawal from Iraq. In this episode of Overwatch, Middle East Security Program Manager Nicholas Heras and Iraq Research Assistant Katherine Lawlor discuss Iran’s ongoing campaign to shape Iraq into a state that serves Iran’s geopolitical interests.
Apr 15, 2020
13 min
Iraq Crisis Brief: Iranian Proxies Escalate Against U.S. in Iraq
Iran’s proxies are again escalating against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. Kata'ib Hezbollah fired rockets at a U.S. base in Taji, north of Baghdad, on March 11, triggering an immediate U.S. reprisal. Today, another rocket attack targeted the Taji base. In this Overwatch Crisis Brief recorded on March 13, ISW’s Iraq experts Nicholas Heras, Katherine Lawlor, and Brandon Wallace discuss the implications for the U.S.-led coalition’s relationship with Iraqi security forces and the increasing cooperation between Iran’s proxy groups.
Mar 16, 2020
10 min
Iraq Crisis Brief: What You Need to Know Following the Death of Iranian IRGC Quds Force Commander Soleimani
The United States killed Iranian IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and several senior proxy militia officials in a Baghdad drone strike on 03 JAN. Soleimani was a designated terrorist and the second most powerful person in Iran. This strike follows an Iranian proxy militia attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the killing of an American contractor by Iranian proxy militias, and a months-long escalation in Iranian rocket attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq and across the Middle East. Iran experts Nicholas Carl and Kyra Rauschenbach of the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project and Iraq experts Brandon Wallace and Katherine Lawlor of the Institute for the Study of War brief what you need to know to make sense of the coming news cycle.
Jan 3, 2020
10 min
Iraq Crisis Brief: Proxy Violence and Political Stagnation Follow the Resignation of Iraq's Prime Minister
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi resigned on November 29 following a renewed outbreak of violence against protesters and the withdrawal of support by Shi'a religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Iraq's political elites have scrambled to find a replacement to Mehdi, who was himself a compromise candidate, and have so far failed to achieve consensus on either a new prime minister or any meaningful concessions to the protesters. Meanwhile, Iran's proxies in Iraq continue to attack three groups - protesters, nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his supporters, and the U.S.-led Coalition - in order to drive political action in Iran's favor. ISW's Iraq experts Katherine Lawlor and Brandon Wallace offer their take on the political stagnation, proxy conflicts, and increased violence they expect to see moving into the new year. 
Dec 20, 2019
16 min
Syria Crisis Brief: Outcome of Trump-Erdogan Meeting Amidst Continued Fighting in Syria
U.S. President Donald Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Turkey's ongoing offensive in Northeastern Syria on November 13th. The meeting occurred as fighting continues in Eastern Syria. ISW Syria expert John Dunford discusses the events in Syria and abroad that shaped the two presidents' conversation and its subsequent outcome. 
Nov 14, 2019
7 min
Iraq Crisis Brief: Iraqi Protests Grow After Iran Intervenes to Prevent the Prime Minister's Ouster
Protests in Iraq have continued to grow after resuming on October 25th. Iranian proxy leader Hadi al Ameri reversed his position on the ousting of the Iraqi prime minister under the direction the Iranian IRGC Quds Force commander. This direct intervention by Iran signals the potential for a more violent Iranian crackdown against Iraqi protesters. ISW Research Director Jennifer Cafarella discusses three possible trajectories for Iraq's future. *Originally published November 7, 2019. 
Nov 14, 2019
10 min
Syria Crisis Brief: Russo-Turkish Agreement in Eastern Syria Breaks Down as U.S. Forces Return
The deadline to implement the first phase of the Russo-Turkish deal for Northeast Syria passed without significant progress after Kurdish forces refused to withdraw from the border. Meanwhile, a new contingent of U.S. forces deployed to southeast Syria to secure oil fields. U.S. forces also patrolled a Kurdish area, indicating a continued relationship with Kurdish forces. ISW Research Director Jennifer Cafarella and Syria expert John Dunford explain these details and discuss what to expect next. *Originally published November 1, 2019. 
Nov 14, 2019
14 min
Iraq Crisis Brief: The Ouster of Iraq's Prime Minister Looks Imminent
Rumors of an imminent resignation of the Iraqi prime minister emerges after nationalist Shi'a cleric Muqtada al Sadr made a dramatic return to Iraq and joined escalating protests in Najaf. He and Iranian proxy leader Hadi Al Ameri each released statements pledging to hold a no-confidence vote against the prime minister in the Iraqi parliament. ISW Research Director Jennifer Cafarella discusses the political stakes and possibilities. *Originally published October 29, 2019. 
Nov 14, 2019
7 min
Iraq Crisis Brief: Mass Protests Resume in Iraq
Mass protests resumed in Baghdad and across the Shi'a-majority provinces in southern Iraq despite the Iraqi government's attempts to de-escalate through concessions and limited reforms. Protesters torched political offices and media headquarters in multiple provinces, chanting slogans against both the Iraqi government and Iran's proxies in Iraq. One Iranian proxy militia reportedly used live ammunition against protesters. ISW's Research Director Jennifer Cafarella and Iraq expert Samantha Leathley discuss Friday's escalation and what could follow. *Originally published October 25, 2019. 
Nov 14, 2019
8 min
Syria Crisis Brief: Significance of the Turkey-Russia Meeting on Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met to coordinate military movements in Northern Syria. The two presidents reached an initial agreement intended to push Kurdish forces away from the Turkey-Syria border region over the coming days. ISW Syria expert John Dunford discusses what is known about the new deal and how it will effect Turkish and Russian actions in Syria moving forward. *Originally published October 23, 2019. 
Nov 14, 2019
8 min
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