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.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 86

This week we start with pundits, IR theories and US foreign policy. The question is: “Do the greatest op-ed pages in America discriminate against foreign policy realists?”. Here some possibile answers.

Is Ebola over? The epidemic  has killed more than 11,000 people. However, as reported by The Guardian, the efforts to prepare for pandemics have been chronically underfunded.

Moving to contemporary warfare, here you’ll find an interesting analysis on the never-ending crucial role of the artillery in the battlefield. Even in Syria.

What about “Brexit“? Der Spiegel provides the last news on the EU strategy to keep Britain from leaving.

Finally, a song. We already missing you.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 83

Christmas is coming, but it does not seem like international politics is stopping for the event. War in Syria and Iraq is still raging, with European countries taking a more active role in recent weeks. How do they get the intelligence needed for operating? Seymour M. Hersh writes about US intel sharing in the London Review of Books.

Attacked in its “homeland”, ISIS needs a constant influx of recruits. Could videogames, or Hollywood, provide examples to took at?

But problems for Western Powers are not limited to Iraq and Syria. Talibans are advancing (again) in Afghanistan, and the recent suicide attacks near an American base shows how the situation id far from improving.

In recent years, the debate in security studies has been often focusing on non-traditional military threats such as organized crime. El Salvador’s gang problem is a case in point.

Finally, what are the COIN lessons that the Rebels and Republic in Star Wars should learn from Afghanistan and Iraq?

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 79

From the Turkish border to Paris to the ground in Syria and Iraq. It is still too early to understand the consequences of the Turkish missile intercepting a Russian Su-24 allegedly flying in Turkish skies. But you can follow live the BBC updates. And start imagining what could happen next.

In the two weeks after the Paris attacks, there have been some attempts to dig deeper into its consequences. Rosa Brooks writes that we should learn to accept some uncomfortable truths. Including the recognition that there is probably no chance to achieve complete security from attacks.

Barry Posen argues that defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq is proving to be a very costly undertaking. And Western escalation might be actually what ISIS wants. Containment of the threat should be a more sustainable long term strategy.

Most analysts would agree, in any case, that better action against the ability of ISIS to extract resources would effectively weaken it. The Atlantic features an article on where ISIS money come from.

Finally, a bit off-topic. What is the role of scholarship in these hard times? Warontherocks contributes to the endless debate on the relationship between academia and defence decision-making.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 75

What’s Russia doing in Syria? This is frequent question these days. While a clear account of operations is not necessarily easy to find, the broad picture that emerges shows how Russian military capabilities are better than previously thought.

In the meanwhile, Iraqi Kurds understood that dealing with the world’s largest democracy requires a better understanding of the decision-making processes of the latter. That is why, Foreign Policy reports, the Kurdish Regional Government are increasingly recurring to K Street lobbying.

Two interesting pieces in the past week on the “intractable” conflict in the Middle East par excellance. Natan Sachs ponders over Israeli “anti-solutionism” in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, trying to explain why accepting (and prolonging) the status quo has its own rationale.

The New Yorker features an article on what would have happened had Rabin survived its assassination attempt. Counterfactuals are always tough to make, but the thought experiment allows, if nothing else, to remember a key moment in the history of the conflict.

Preparing for the Star Wars’ episode 7, a classic (2002) “neo-con” article on how the Empire was actually not that bad at all. Sure that IR interpretation of the saga will flourish in the next few months.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 71

This week we inevitably start with Russia in Syria. The Aviationist provides detailed analyses of the Russian air strikes. A lot of technical stuff, ma extremely useful to understand the current situation.

Concerning Syria, here an interactive map that shows the massive disaster caused by the civil war in recent years. No more lights from above.

From air strikes to something different: Landpower. According to War on the Rocks: [Landpower] remains a central component of compelling adversaries to relent to American power, as examples around the world suggest.

Dan Drezner addresses the “conspiracy theorists of 2016“. Here his open letter to who thinks the United States is in league with the Islamic State.

Finally. Soccer. Italian Serie A. Fiorentina at the top of the league. Venus is (really, really) really proud of that! No big ambitions (it is problematic to be an hegemonic actor without the proper means), but huge satisfaction!

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 71

Lots of meetings in the past few days. In sparse order, Obama and Xi, Obama and Putin, Obama and the Pope. Many things to discuss, from improving bilateral relations to devising a strategy for Syria. Although the most important outcomes are often hard to see, something visible emerged.

US-China relations these days have been often spoiled by cyber attacks in the US that allegedly came from China territory. This is why the deal between China and the US reached last week is important. Wait and see, here for the Italian readers some reasons to be sceptical in a brief published by the Italian think tank ISPI last week to which Venus in Arms contributed.

The other hot front is clearly Syria. Putin and Obama might not have looked best friends in recent years, but they might share some interests (if not the solutions) in the region.

In the meanwhile, the Middle East remains the same old powder keg. The US plays multiple roles in the region, one of those being provider of weapons.

The other guy on the table, Vladimir Putin, has been always very active in the international arena. This New Yorker’s piece discusses whether Russian President can achieve his multiple objectives by acting in Syria.

In a recent talk, former FED chief Ben Bernanke entered into controversy over the role of military service in preparing for a professional private sector career. An interesting contribution on the Atlantic discusses the theme.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 70

We apologize for the delay in publishing our Top 5, but you know, September is full of tasks for “academics” (new courses, publications, conferences, post-summer stress, etc.). Here below our suggestions:

First of all, it seems that Russian fighter jest entered in Syria (with transponders off..). A turning point for the conflict (and the proxy-war)?

As fans of content and discourse analyses, here you’ll find an interesting comparison of the speeches by the last two Popes (Benedict and Francis) to the UN.

Are interested in the evolution of international peacekeeping? Political Violence at a Glance argues that we should review our traditional pessimist view on PKOs: “The surprising thing about peacekeeping — the real story — is that, despite its many problems, it works”.

What happens in Burkina Faso? The Guardian helps you in better understanding the state of democracy in the African country after the last troubles.

Finally, this week we had the 9th Pan-European Conference on International Relations: “The Worlds of Violence”. Here you’ll find all the info on panel and papers presented at the convention (which has been held at Giardini Naxos, Sicily).

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 68

While we are looking at the current development of the crisis in Syria, here you’ll find a broad collection of analyses by “The Strategy Bridge” on ISIS/ISIL/IS. A specify attention is devoted to the narratives adopted by the group.

Still on Syria (and drones), “The Guardian” provides news and comments regarding the “kill list” approved by the UK National Security Council. Indeed, unmanned RAF aerial drones armed with Hellfire missiles have been patrolling the skies over Syria for months seeking to target British jihadis.

Carnegie Europe focuses on “NATO and the security vacuum in Europe“. Is the “politics of 2%” realistic? An interesting starting point for a crucial debate.

Duck of Minerva started a controversial discussion over “doing something” for addressing the dramatic refugee crisis and the academia. Here and here tow different perspectives.

Finally, -98 days to The Force Awakens….

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 47

Changing ideas is a sign of intelligence, a necessary element of academic research. It is also a key for organizational adaptation and learning. It’s hard, though, and also for individuals, to admit they’re wrong.  That’s why the list of past “wrongs” by Steven Walt, a dean of American IR scholars, is a must read.

Photos often describe conflict better than many words. The Atlantic features a series of impressive photos of Reuters’ photo reporters in Northern Iraq, where battle is raging.

Sticking with ISIS (is there anything else, nowadays?), DefenceOne presents the case for drones: air strikes are doing the job in Iraq and Syria.

Well, perhaps something else matters. Where is Vladimir Putin? BBC responds with humor (we know now he is still among us..)

Finally, elections in Israel.  Follow the live blog of the Jerusalem Post. As they say, “Israel has no foreign policy, just domestic politics”.

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