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Assignment: State of Iraq and Syria

Assignment: State of Iraq and Syria

Assignment: State of Iraq and Syria

NOW FOR AN ORIGINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT:Assignment: State of Iraq and Syria

In the upheavals of 2011-2012 known as the “Arab Spring,” rulers in Egypt and Tunisia were overthrown following bloody confrontations between demonstrators and security forces. In Libya, where civil war broke out, Dictator Muammar Gadaffi fled, but rebels captured and killed him. A full-scale civil war in Syria dragged on through 2012 and into 2015 with no end in sight.

In 2014, a jihadist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) cut wide swathes of death and destruction across a vast territory, gaining control of towns and cities in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, engaging in violent clashes with Kurdish fighters, threatening Baghdad, and prompting President Obama to redeploy U.S. military forces there. In December 2014, thirteen people were killed when U.S. Special Forces attempted to rescue hostages in Yemen—among the dead were a woman, a ten-year-old boy, an American journalist, and a local al Qaeda leader.

West Africa has been in crisis for more than two decades. Insurgencies, atrocities, kidnappings, “child soldiers”—these horrors were the stuff of daily life in this all-but-forgotten corner of sub-Saharan Africa during the 1990s. Although troubles persisted into the 2000s, a modicum of stability and peace was restored. But in 2012, a new crisis boiled over when jihadist insurgent groups in northern Mali seized the country’s largest city, Gao, and the fabled town of Timbuktu.

The background to the crisis in Mali involved a military coup d’etat in 2012 that overthrew an elected president and scrapped the country’s constitution. France sent troops to help Mali’s army put down the Islamist rebellion in 2013.

Given the endemic instability in the region, there was a danger that the conflict would spill over to neighboring states. Across the border in Algeria, jihadists attacked a BP gas facility and seized hostages. A shootout with Algerian security forces left some sixty-nine people dead, including thirty-nine foreigners and an Algerian, presumed to be hostages.

Pakistan, a big country (population: 170 million) located in one of the most volatile regions of the world, perennially teeters on the edge of open rebellion. Pakistan’s per capita GDP is lower than India’s and roughly one-tenth that of New Zealand or South Korea.