The Lost Caravan : the rise and fall of Al Qaeda in Iraq, 2003--2007
McClure, Sean M.
McCormick, Gordon H.
Gregg, Heather S.
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In 2006, a coalition intelligence report was writing off portions of Iraq as being lost to the control of the U.S. led coalition and the government of Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) a local manifestation of a transnational movement was at its peak, while the U.S. led coalition was attempting to remove itself from the Hobbesian violence raging throughout the country in the forms of a civil war and an insurgency. Yet, within a year, AQI was a mere shadow of its former self, rejected by the Sunni population and on the run, hounded by coalition forces. This thesis analyzes the many factors that contributed to AQI's demise. Beginning with the premise that Iraq's Sunnis and AQI developed along two distinctly different paths, this thesis traces AQI's demise to disparate cultural and ideological differences. With this rift in place, additional factors widened the gap between the Sunni and AQI, further accelerating the group's decline. This thesis then goes on to develop a theory on insurgent/popular alignment, offering insights into how insurgents build support with the population and how the U.S. Special Forces community can build popular support for Unconventional Warfare efforts as a third party to an insurgency.
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