Regional Conflicts

Civil and Regional Conflicts

Iraq/   Afghanistan/   Syria/   Libya/   Egypt/   Iran/

Civil and regional conflicts rage across the globe and their outcomes have the potential to shift the global balance of power.  U.S. and NATO forces are slowly trying to disentangle from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars while upheaval in other countries are requiring increased attention.  Primary and secondary documents detailing civil and regional conflicts that already have or may in the future result in U.S. or international intervention are provided in this section.


The 2003 U.S. led intervention in Iraq that is estimated to cost taxpayers $6 trillion ended 24 years of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.  The chaos that followed in Iraq exposed the limitations of the military’s ability to run counter-insurgency campaigns.  The Obama administration withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, fulfilling a campaign promise that was made due to numerous scandals and the unpopularity of the war.  Iraq continues to be a hotbed of sectarian violence and provides shelter to numerous terrorist organizations. [Read More…]


Afghanistan was the first country targeted after the Bush administration declared the war on terror in 2001.  The Taliban led government had provided shelter to al-Qaeda and refused to hand over Osama bin Ladin following the 9/11 attacks.  The western-style democracy led by Afghan President Hamid Karzai after the ouster of the Taliban regime has failed to unite the sharply divided tribal elements that Afghanistan is composed of.  The U.S. has publicized its timetable for a complete withdrawal of forces in 2014 while the Taliban maintains a stronghold in certain regions of the country and threatens to topple Karzai’s fragile government. [Read More…]


The Arab Spring, uprisings throughout the Arab world against long-standing dictators, reached Syria in March 2011 with popular demonstrations quickly spreading across the country that demanded the ouster of Bashar al-Assad, whose family has been in power since 1971.  Brutal repression of the protests quickly escalated into a full-blown civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and brought superpowers and regional forces into conflict.  China and Russia have vetoed any efforts by the UN National Security Council to take action against Assad’s regime, which is also supported by Iran, Hezbollah and Palestinian militants.  The Free Syrian Army, a fragile coalition of armed forces committed to overthrowing al-Assad, has received support from the U.S. and other western governments, but also fight with Sunni extremists that are loyal to al-Qaeda and have declared jihad against the Shi’ite Muslims supporting Assad, which has limited foreign aid.  Syria’s large chemical weapons arsenal is a critical factor in the civil war that may necessitate foreign intervention. [Read More…]


In 2011, the Arab Spring reached Libya and resulted in a UN Security Council supported uprising against Muammar Qaddafi’s government, which had been in power since 1969.  Libya is currently governed by a temporary constitution created by the internationally recognized National Transitional Council, which is responsible for creating a constitutional assembly to draft a permanent constitution.  Conflict continues in Libya between forces that were loyal to Qaddafi, the armed forces governed by the National Transitional Council and local militias and rebel groups that were active during the revolution.  The deteriorating security situation in Libya and the activity of extremist groups were brought to national attention by the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.  [Read More…]


In 2011, 18 days of popular protests successfully ousted Hosni Mubarak from his post as the 4th president of Egypt, which he had held since 1981, and further inspired Arab Spring uprisings throughout the region.  Muslim Brotherhood candidates swept the elections that followed and captured the Presidency and a majority of the seats in Egypt’s Parliament or People’s Assembly followed closely by the Salafist al-Nour Party.  A fresh round of protests erupted after the adoption of an Islamist based Constitution and moves by President Mohamed Morsi to increase his own power. The protests resulted in the removal of Morsi by the Egyptian Armed Forces in July 2013.  Bloody clashes between Morsi supporters and the Armed Forces and their supporters threaten to escalate into a Syrian-style civil war.  [Read More…]


Iran has been an Islamic Republic since the ouster of the U.S. supported Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979.  The Iranian Constitution created a theocracy that is ruled by a Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responsible for appointing Supreme Court Justices and the leaders of the Armed Forces.  The constitution also created an executive branch composed of an elected President and Parliament.  After the ouster of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Iran emerged as a major regional power with nuclear ambitions that pose an existential threat to Israel.  The Iranian nuclear weapons program has brought it into conflict with the U.S., which has led international efforts to impose sanctions until Iran disbands its program.  Preemptive military action from Israel has been threatened since 2004.  [Read More…]