US Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism: Who Is Friend and Who Is Foe?

On March 24th, the Administration released its Strategy for the Middle East and to Counter Violent Extremism. This document, intended to fulfill the requirements of section 1222 of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), outlines US objectives in the Middle East then provides a very broad outline of the strategy to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; curb Islamic State expansion into other areas of the world; protect the homeland; and expand the coalition efforts against the Islamic State and ensure partners contribute more to the effort.

Criticism of the plan was swift. Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, pointed out, “the seven page document fails to provide much new information and fails to address all the elements required by law, such as identifying which groups must be engaged to counter violent extremism.” Indeed, section 1222, subsection (b), of the 2016 NDAA dictates that the strategy must include, “A list of the state and non-state actors that must be engaged to counter violent extremism.” However, the strategy does not break down any of the militant groups currently fighting in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State and/or the Syrian regime, nor does it state which groups can be trusted. It seems that quagmire would turn the 7-page strategy into a much, much longer document.

The full strategy can be found HERE on the HSDL.

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