Countering Islamist proto-insurgencies : the Iraq experience
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The proto-phase of an insurgency is the time during which a fledgling insurgent movement seeks to gather the resources, expertise, and organizational capacity to wage a violent, credible, effective campaign against a governing authority. Whereas a full-scale insurgency enjoys momentum, some population support, and a concomitant inertia that makes it hard to decisively defeat, a proto-insurgency is weak, and should be relatively easy to defeat. In this paper, I build on Dr. Daniel Byman's ground-breaking work on proto-insurgencies to explore the dynamics of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's successful proto-insurgency in Iraq against the United States, between 2003 and 2004. I argue that three primary factors account for a rapid transition to a full-scale insurgency: the adoption of violent shortcut strategies, such as Che Guevara's foco strategy, modified to leverage local, as well as foreign fighters; strategic pre-positioning that aids political acceptability and the attraction of foreign fighters; and the dearth of counterinsurgent forces and resources. The underlying premise is that by more effectively understanding proto-insurgencies, we will be better equipped to detect and defeat them, thereby allowing us to avoid resource-intensive campaigns against full-scale insurgencies and preserve our strategic freedom-of-action.
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