The Military Impact of Foreign Fighters on the Battlefield: The Case of the ISIL

We are pleased to announce the publication of the book: “Foreign Fighters under International Law and Beyond“, F. Capone, A. de Guttry, C. Paulussen (eds), Springer, 2016.

Here you’ll find all the details related to the edited volume that offers a broad and multidisciplinary perspective on the underexplored phenomenon of foreign fighters.

Here the “Table of contents”

The book “provides an overview of challenges, pays considerable attention to the status of foreign fighters, and addresses numerous approaches, both at the supranational and national level, on how to tackle this problem. Outstanding experts in the field – lawyers, historians and political scientists – contributed to the present volume, providing the reader with a multitude of views concerning this multifaceted phenomenon. Particular attention is paid to its implications in light of the armed conflicts currently taking place in Syria and Iraq“.

We have provided a contribution with the chapter: “The Military Impact of Foreign Fighters on the Battlefield: The Case of the ISIL” (by F.Coticchia).

Here below the abstract:

The so-called ‘foreign fighters’ are the most controversial example of the increasing relevance of transnational actors in global politics and contemporary warfare. The border between domestic and international security is becoming blurred due to the potential adverse impacts of these fighters, mainly in terms of consequences related to their experience on the ground (blowback effects, terrorist attacks, radical propaganda, etc.). Despite a mounting interest in this issue, scarce attention has been devoted to the mechanisms through which these foreign fighters are trained and, above all, the ways in which they spread military innovation and adapt across conflicts and crisesLooking at the case study of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), this chapter will investigate the patterns of the military involvement on the battlefield of foreign fighters as well as their role in the process of elaboration and diffusion of approaches, tactics and lessons learnt.

Share Button

Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 78: “ISIL and terrorism”

This week our Top5 is entirely devoted to the dramatic terrorist attacks that killed 129 people in Paris last week. While police raids are still ongoing in Europe, we suggest four (+1) links to useful analyses provided by experts and scholars on the broad issue of “ISIL and terrorism”. Let’s see how political science can help us in interpreting the current scenario.

First, how effective is terrorism? In this excellent paper for International OrganizationVirginia Page Fortna investigates the issue, stressing “that although civil wars involving terrorism last longer than other wars, terrorist rebel groups are generally less likely to achieve their larger political objectives than are non-terrorist groups“. If the question is “Do terrorists win”, the answer is simply: no.

Second, one the most important experts on foreign fighters, Thomas Hegghammer (and his co-author Petter Nesser), recently assessed the Islamic State’s commitment to attacking the West. In this paper for “Perspectives on Terrorism”, the authors “examine IS statements and take stock of IS-related attack plots in Western Europe, North America, and Australia from January 2011 through June 2015 using a new dataset of jihadi plots and a new typology of links between organizations and attackers. IS appears to have had a decentralized attack strategy based on encouraging sympathiser attacks while not mounting centrally directed operations of their own”. So, is the Paris plot a turning point?

Third, Clint Watts provides an insightful analysis on ISIL and its recent evolution in tactics and strategies. Comparing ISIL with Al-Shabaab the lesson could be the following: “If an extremist group that has seized territory starts to lose it, it will be highly incentivized to turn to terrorist operations that allow for maximizing effects at a lower cost“.

Fourth, some concrete suggestions from the field on how to counter ISIL in Iraq. Here the post by Michael Knights for War on the Rocks on “how to build on progress and avoid stalemate against ISIL”.

Five, from an historical perspective this video well illustrates the evolution of Europe across centuries and how it will be difficult for terrorists to destabilize our countries if we remain unite.

Share Button

Guerra, diritto e sicurezza nelle relazioni internazionali

Venus in Arms è lieto di partecipare al Convegno: “Guerra, diritto e sicurezza nelle relazioni internazionali” (Firenze, 22-23 Ottobre 2015).

Il convegno è il primo seminario ispano-italiano legato al progetto I+D+i “La guerra y sus justificaciones. Problemas y tendencias actuales” finanziato dal Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad de España con il patrocinio del Dipartimento di Scienze Giuridiche dell’Università degli Studi di Firenze.

Qui trovate la locandina dettagliata dell’evento, con i titoli degli interventi e gli speaker.

Le sezioni principali saranno tre: “Semantiche del conflitto“, “Esercizi di giustificazione” e  “Scenari dell’ordine“.

Fabrizio Coticchia, di ViA, interverrà nell’ultima sezione, attraverso un’analisi del ruolo militare svolto dai Foreign Fighters nel caso dell’ISIL (qui in un precedente post, e qui per il dettaglio di una prossima pubblicazione sul tema Foreign Fighters).

Il convegno si svolgerà a Villa Ruspoli, in Piazza Indipendenza 9 (Firenze).

Ci vediamo a Firenze!

Share Button

ViA 2015: La trasformazione militare italiana (e molto altro)

Terminata la pausa estiva, Venus in Arms è di nuovo pronto a rituffarsi sui temi della difesa e della sicurezza (e molto altro). In questo breve post di inizio Settembre illustreremo brevemente gli argomenti che saranno al centro della nostra attenzione nei prossimi mesi, nei quali cercheremo sempre di collegare analisi e studi “accademici” a riflessioni legate al dibattito corrente.

Primo aspetto al centro del nostro lavoro sarà la trasformazione militare italiana, ovvero l’argomento del nostro ultimo libro. Il volume analizza il processo di cambiamento delle forze armate italiane nel nuovo secolo, attraverso una prospettiva comparata (Francia e Gran Bretagna). L’analisi illustra l’interazione tra alcune dimensioni della trasformazione (budget, impiego sul campo, dottrina) e la loro influenza sul percorso di cambiamento e adattamento avvenuto negli ultimi anni nella Difesa italiana. Attraverso interviste, documenti ufficiali e fonti secondarie sono state esaminate in dettaglio le operazioni in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libano e Libia.

Una particolare attenzione è stata dedicata alla dimensione istituzionale del cambiamento. In linea con quest’ultimo aspetto, in futuro ci focalizzeremo sulla dimensione dell’apprendimento, attraverso survey e questionari.

Nelle prossime settimane organizzeremo alcuni seminari di presentazione del libro, che riporteremo per tempo sul blog. Un po’ di pubblicità non fa mai male, naturalmente.

Un altro aspetto che continuerà ad occupare costantemente le pagine di Venus sarà la Difesa italiana, soprattutto alla luce della pubblicazione dell’ultimo Libro Bianco e della riforme ad esso collegate. Stiamo lavorando proprio sull’ultimo documento strategico e a breve saranno qui riportati i risultati delle nostre analisi.

In chiave comparata ci dedicheremo poi al rapporto tra l’evoluzione della Difesa italiana e quella tedesca avvenuta nell’era post-bipolare. Abbiamo già passato un po’ di tempo di Germania per interviste e analisi. Quindi aspettatevi un bel po’ di materiale da leggere e discutere (non in tedesco, tranquilli).

Una parte consistente del nostro lavoro sarà poi dedicata ai temi della political violence, del ruolo della criminalità organizzata (nazionale e transnazionale), dei conflitti contemporanei.

Al tema dei foreign fighters saranno dedicati alcuni post, i quali riporteranno i risultati di alcuni analisi che abbiamo condotto di recente in merito al caso dell’ISIL.

Non ci dimenticheremo del controverso tema degli F-35, cercando però di spostare la discussione da una prospettiva budget-driven a qualcosa di più articolato, come fatto in passato.

La sicurezza europea, scossa dalle crisi interne e regionali e dal dramma immane dei profughi, non potrà che essere esaminata in dettaglio, così come la trasformazione della NATO.

Infine, i guest-post cercheranno di ampliare l’orizzonte interdisciplinare di ViA, da analisi tradizionali di Relazioni Internazionali agli studi di intelligence fino ai “nuovi” metodi di insegnamento in materia di IR, sicurezza e scienza politica. Ogni contributo alla discussione è ben accetto ovviamente.

Sarete sempre tenuti al corrente dei principali appuntamenti con conferenze e seminari (in più qualche dettaglio sulle trasferte che faremo in Europa League).

Insomma, molta carne al fuoco. Senza dimenticarci l’appuntamento settimanale con la nostra Top-5, che raccoglie i migliori “5 pezzi facili” che provengono da blog, riviste, giornali di tutto il mondo. La dimensione “pop” del sito non verrà trascurata, soprattutto nella spasmodica attesa del nuovo capitolo di Star Wars.

Stay tuned

 

 

Share Button

Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 44

(a premise: the first delay ever in the publication of our Top-5 was caused by the post-ISA2015 jet leg…)

The first suggestion is related precisely to the ISA. We remember the upcoming conferences. Among others we recommend ISA 2020 (Honolulu, Hawai – March 25th-28th) and ISA 2021 (Las Vegas, Nevada – April 7th-10th).

Still at the ISA 2015 (this year hosted in New Orleans). Here you’ll find the report by Duck of Minerva about the blog awards reception. These are the main results. Best Independent Blog: Dart Throwing Chimp.  Best Group Blog:  The Monkey Cage. Best New Blogger:  Allison Beth Hodgkins. Best Blog Post:  Erica Chenoweth, “Nonviolent Conflicts in 2014 That you May have Missed Because They Were Nonviolent” at Political Violence at a Glance.

An interesting analysis on leaks and intelligence cooperation by The Monkey Cage. According to J. I. Walsh: “Greater limits on intelligence sharing might restrict states’ ability to counter transnational terrorist groups and other threats to peace and stability”

Foreign Fighters and…luxury resort! The Guardian illustrates a surge in departures of young men from Maldives for Syria. 4 people have been stopped by authorities. But between 50 and 100 from the country of 300,000 have joined “the jihad”.

Finally, something on the controversial F-35. Look at the updated analysis by Jane’s on the “improvements” (reported by the Lockheed Martin) of the warplanes, after months (years?) of problems and obstacles.

Share Button

Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 42 (ISA version)

This week we present a different version of the “Top 5”. Indeed, here below you’ll find our Top 5 of the most interesting and promising panels  at the next ISA’s 56th Annual Convention. As we’ve already illustrated in a previous post, Venus in Arms will be the 2015 Annual Convention in New Orleans (February 18-21), presenting papers on public opinion and (counter)narratives, Italian operations in Libya, Haiti and Somalia.

We will provide a detailed account of the Conference (“Global IR and Regional Worlds. A New Agenda for International Studies”) at the end of the next week. So far, here the list of “our favorite panels” (in chronological order):

1) “Parties, Coalitions, And Foreign Policy“.Wednesday, February 18, 10:30 AM – 12:15 PM. This panel addresses the influence and impact of indivdiual political parties as well as coalition government on foreign policy. The Discussant of the panel will be Juliet Kaarbo.

2) “Economic Austerity And Military Power“. Wednesday, February 18, 1:45 PM – 3:30 PM (yes, as it always happens, two interesting panels at the same hour).  How do states implement military spending cuts? When do states demilitarize and when do states engage in strategic reform in response to cuts? What are the effects of these mandated cuts on military effectiveness, strategy, and power? The panel on military spending cuts takes both contemporary and historical approaches to shed light on these questions.

3)”Foreign Fighters: A Decade Of Scholarship“. Wednesday, February 18, 1:45 PM – 3:30 PM. This roundtable will host several scholars who have written extensively on the topic. The Chair of the panel will be David Malet

4) “Game Of Thrones And World Politics: Empirical Investigations“.Wednesday, February 18, 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM. The panel examines the relationship between the Game of Thrones books and/or HBO hit series and “first-order” global political phenomena. The aim is to focus specifically on empirical investigations of the circulation of pop culture ideas in actual foreign policy / global processes. the Chairs are Dan Drezner and Charlie Carpenter. Here a fantastic presentation of the panel.

5) “The Un-Informed Public? Foreign Policy And Public Opinion“. Friday, February 20, 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM. This panel brings together papers that explore the influence and impact of public opinion on the formulation and conduct of foreign policy. ViA will be at the panel as a Discussant.

We will be also at the “IR Blogging Awards and Reception, Sponsored by Sage and Duck of Minerva

You’ll find additional details on the whole program me here

 

See you in New Orleans

Share Button

Paris attacks and foreign fighters. A research agenda

The dramatic Paris attacks has raised attention (and concern) over the phenomenon of the so-called “foreign fighters“. Several scholars have already focused on the role played by foreign insurgents fighting on behalf of local rebel groups. (See for instance the detailed historical analysis, from the Texas revolution to Afghanistan, by David Malet). Since the end of the Cold War sub-national and transnational actors have played a growing role in global politics. The foreign fighters are the most recent and controversial example of the increasing relevance of transnational actors, especially in contemporary warfare.

Recent research has tried to track “Western” foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. For instance, the ICSR team has created a unique database with the social media profiles of nearly 200 British, European and Western fighters in Syria. Others consider the current conflict against the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) as a “game changer” for the extremist threat to Western countries. The border between domestic and international security appears as blurring due to the possible menaces posed by those fighters, mainly in terms of consequences related to their experience on the ground (blowback effects, terrorist attacks, radical propaganda, etc.).

In next weeks/months also Venus in Arms will focus on the issue of foreign fighters. Through the case of the ISIL  we are interested in analyze the process of learning and adaptation of foreign insurgents in contemporary conflicts. In a forthcoming book chapter we investigate the effective extent of the role played by the foreign fighters in the process of elaboration and diffusion of approaches, tactics and lessons learnt in a cross-time analysis (2011-2014).

Despite a mounting interest over such issue, a scarce attention has been devoted to the mechanisms through which the foreign fighters are trained and, above all, the ways adopted for spreading military innovation and adaptation across conflicts and crises. From a bottom-up approach focused on foreign fighters, the book chapter (more details on the book  in next weeks..) examines how the lessons learnt derived from other conflicts have affected the ways through which insurgent organizations in Syria and Iraq changed to face new challenges on the ground. Thanks to primary and secondary sources, the study sheds light on the mechanisms of inter-organizational learning and the adoption of practices that come from the experience of foreign fighters.

Findings will allow to better assessing the role played by those fighters in contemporary warfare, illustrating the “institutionalization” of lessons learned in insurgent organizations.

Stay tuned…

Share Button