“Added Flexibility”: Corri Zoli Addresses Expanded Military Footprint in Iraq & Syria with Al-Monitor

Pentagon wants to build new US facilities in Iraq, Syria

(Al-Monitor | July 13, 2017) The Donald Trump administration is pushing Congress for the authority to build new “temporary” facilities in Iraq and Syria as part of the US-led campaign against the Islamic State.

“It looks to me like what they’re trying to do is get a little more maneuverability to create some infrastructure for deepening the fight beyond Raqqa and Syria.”

In a policy statement released Tuesday night, the White House argues that US troops are hamstrung by legal restrictions on their ability to expand US military infrastructure “in both Iraq and Syria.” The administration wants lawmakers to extend existing authorities that only cover the “repair and renovation” of facilities to also encompass “temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and assembly areas that have adequate force protection.”

“These facilities, supply points, and assembly areas will enable the pursuit of [IS] into the Euphrates River Valley and help improve the security of Iraq’s borders,” the statement reads. “Current authorities … severely limit the coalition’s maneuverability and its ability to respond quickly to changing operational conditions.”

Tuesday’s Statement of Administration Policy, which the White House uses to present its views on pending legislation, takes the House Armed Services Committee to task for not including the change in its annual defense authorization bill released last month, although it is not clear if lawmakers had received the request from the Pentagon in time. The Senate Armed Services Committee draft, released this week, does, however, include the requested change. The House began floor consideration of the bill Wednesday.

The added flexibility would enable the Defense Department to go on the offensive to root out IS safe havens in Iraq and Syria, according to Corri Zoli, the director of research at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.

“It looks to me like what they’re trying to do is get a little more maneuverability to create some infrastructure for deepening the fight beyond Raqqa and Syria,” Zoli told Al-Monitor. “It’s kind of an attempt to create a lily-pad structure in the Levant to go after [IS] and their entrepreneurial efforts to start miniature caliphates in the region.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis, Zoli added, “is thinking a couple steps ahead. He wants to win the peace, stabilize the region and militarily pressure Iran. If he can do it with logistics all the better.”

But detractors say the effort could further draw the United States into Syria’s complex civil war, even as Congress continues to resist launching a full-fledged debate over updating the 2001 use of force authorization that remains the main legal justification for US involvement in the region …

To read the whole article, click here.

 

“Armed Conflict and Compliance in Muslim States” with Corri Zoli Now Online

Although many empirical studies have explored state conflict behavior by a range of factors, relatively few studies have examined the conflict behavior of Muslim-majority states. Even less research systematically examined the role of state compliance with international humanitarian law as a variable in such conflict behavior.

This work builds a new dataset based on an international humanitarian law definition of war, and provides an overview of modern armed conflict behavior and compliance with international law governing armed conflict for Muslim states from 1947-2014.

PARCC Conversations in Conflict Studies 2017.

“Proliferating Attacks”: Corri Zoli Discusses Paris & London Terrorism with CNYCentral

Counterterrorism expert talks violent streak abroad

(CNYCentral | June 20, 2017) A day after terror tore through the heart of London yet again, terrorism experts here at home say it’s a reminder that this fight is far from over.
Corri Zoli, a counterterrorism expert at Syracuse University says while the U.S. remains a target, it’s more frequent overseas.

“We’ve had attacks, of course, Orlando for instance, San Bernadino, others. But we haven’t had the kind of proliferating attacks that Europe and Britain have had,” Zoli explained.

Zoli says there are a few reasons why we don’t have them as frequently here in the U.S.

Police here have a better handle on terror threats compared to Europe and the U.K.

“Law enforcement has been on it’s back foot instead of really leaning in to this issue,” said Zoli, “I think it has to do with the present government and the last government reducing the size of law enforcement significantly, which is a huge mistake in the current climate.”

It’s also a matter of geography.

“We have an ocean on either side of protecting us so we have a kind of luck of geography that helps with our security that other European nations do not have,” explained Zoli …

To read the full story, click here.

 

It’s Time to Address the Real Motive in Westminster, Manchester, and Now London: Sectarian Hatred in Our Own Back Yards

By Corri Zoli

(Re-published from The Huffington Post | June 9, 2017) Within 12 hours of the London Bridge attacks on June 3, 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May finally said “enough is enough” and called for an explicit, unapologetic focus on Islamist extremism, which is being incubated in far too many British enclaves—in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and elsewhere.

Admitting what British-based security critics have long known—that “there is far too much tolerance of extremism in our country”—May even asserted “the superiority” of pluralistic British civic values. Better late than never, perhaps, but it is still worrisome that it took the UK government three attacks in under three months, with 30 dead, 10 of whom were under 20 years old, to remember that this (and most) nation’s civic values are better than the jihadists’.

Our prevailing logic—exemplified in the The New York Times—has been exactly backwards. After terrorist attacks, victims of terrorism need not exercise “maximum vigilance” lest we all fall prey to “divisive ethnic, racist and religious hatreds.” It’s extremists who promote and use violence and who are beset by hatred. Salman Abedi killed British teenagers because he views them through a prism of prejudicial hate—their “Western” ethnicity, British nationality, assumed religious beliefs, and secular lifestyles (young girls enjoying music in public). ISIS made this case in Dabiq, “Why We Hate You & Why We Kill You,” just as London Bridge attackers fanned out from their low-tech terrorist van, as per ISIS instructions, to murder pedestrians on the open street. Such bigotry is thus operationalized not only to spread hatred but to kill.

It is time to name the sectarian hatred—against Western culture, minority religions, ethnic groups, gender and sexual identities, and others—that motivates much global terrorism and defines thousands of Islamist organizations. Policymakers who tell us “we will not be divided” are like Alice in Wonderland’s white rabbit—too late. Each attack brings officials who have tumbled down the rabbit hole of confused logic and policy, imploring the public that the best response to murderous hate is unity—something victims never contested. Suspects are scooped up by law enforcement in a brief frenzy, while weaponized systems of sectarian hatred in neighborhoods and networks are left to fester.

Ordinary people are plotted against as “soft targets,” neighbors and family desperately report radicals to authorities that demur, and victims are lectured to by helpless politicians who defend failed policies as the new normal (it’s not). Meanwhile, pub and concert goers, tourists, and school teachers pay the price for authorities’ failed understanding, as they fight off strategic killers in public places with chairs and bottles, while forced to play battlefield medics, using shirts as tourniquets for mortally wounded compatriots.

Thankfully, this empty narrative and emptier policy response is eroding, largely due to public pressure …

To read the whole article, click here.

 

INSCT Experts Discuss Syrian Airstrike with The Daily Orange

Experts disagree over implications of recent U.S. airstrike in Syria

(The Daily Orange | April 18, 2017) Experts are at odds over the effectiveness and repercussions of a recent United States airstrike in the war-torn nation of Syria that was ordered by President Donald Trump.

“Elman said this lack of enforcement from the Obama administration was seen as a sign of weakness around the world.”

Trump ordered the strike in response to a chemical attack that occurred in northern Syria in early April.

The strike has affected the United States’ relations with regional powers in the Middle East such as Iran, and has escalated tensions with Russia. Some experts at Syracuse University have differing stances on how the strike will impact U.S. relations in the coming weeks, as the six-year conflict in Syria continues to drag on.

The use of chemical weapons is banned under international humanitarian law because once the weapons are released on the battlefield, there is the possibility civilians can indiscriminately be killed along with targeted combatants.

Some see the airstrike Trump ordered as a step in the right direction because it is retaliating against chemical attacks, said Corri Zoli, an assistant professor of political science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Since World War I, international law has condemned the use of gas in warfare, Miriam Elman, an associate professor of political science from the Maxwell School, said in an email.

“In 1919, the Versailles Treaty forbade the use of poison gas; in 1925 the League of Nations approved the Geneva Protocol which bans the use of chemical and biological weapons,” Elman said.

This is the U.S.’s first direct military strike against the Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime. Experts agree that the lack of direct military action until now might be due to decisions made by former President Barack Obama’s administration.

Zoli said the previous administration had a foreign policy aim of retreating from the Middle East. Even though atrocities were also being committed during that time, Obama had preferred to not intervene against a sovereign state in the region, she said.

Even though Obama had previously said that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would lead to serious consequences for the regime, no meaningful actions were taken against the regime, Elman said.

Elman said this lack of enforcement from the Obama administration was seen as a sign of weakness around the world. It also contributed to the erosion of international laws and norms because people stopped believing that members of the international community would put restraints on chemical warfare, Zoli added.

Zoli said rather than more direct military attacks in the future, she expects to see more work done behind the scenes to get local governments in the nation to help put the “Syrian pieces back together.” She added that the possibility of resettlement for Syrian civilians driven from their homes might more of a priority in the future …

To read the whole article, click here.

 

Resetting the International Norm: Corri Zoli Analyzes Syrian Missile Strikes With KCBS

Syrian Opposition Leader Hopes US Strike ‘Beginning Of The End’ Of Civil War

(KCBS (San Francisco) | April 7, 2017) A representative for the Syrian opposition says he hopes the cruise missile attack ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump against Syria helps bring about the end of a brutal six-year civil war.

“At its best, this strike resets the international norm against use of Chemical Weapons which the Obama Administration let lapse.”

“We see it as the beginning of the end of the Syrian war,” Najib Ghadbian told CBS San Francisco Friday. Ghadbian is the Syrian National Coalition’s U.S. representative and grew up in Syria before fleeing at the age of 19.

Ghadbian describes his job as a “troublemaker for the Syrian regime.”

The Syrian National Coalition was recognized by the U.S. and others in 2013. Ghadbian is also part of the United Nations High Negotiations Committee.
“Of course we welcome that,” Ghadbian said of the strikes carried out by the U.S. military Thursday (which was early Friday in Syria).

“It’s really the first response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” he said.
“Our hope is that it will not stop there … we hope it will progress into the protection of civilians … and lead to political transition without Assad,” Ghadbian said …

… Academics who have been watching the human rights abuses unfold in Syria for decades were fascinated by what appeared to be a lightning-fast foreign policy decision by the Trump administration …

… Dr. Corri Zoli with the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University told CBS San Francisco that most members of Congress who have been making public statements about the strike have supported the President, even Democrats, such as House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-San Francisco)  and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who have been staunch critics of the Trump agenda. She said most U.S. allies have also come out in support of the U.S. missile attacks.

“At its best, this strike resets the international norm against use of Chemical Weapons which the Obama Administration let lapse, gives the beleaguered citizens of the Middle East hope that strong powers will not tolerate these outrageous human rights brutalities against poor civilians … At its worst, this strike could cause larger fights with Russia and Iran …” Zoli said …

To read the whole article, click here.

Corri Zoli Assesses President Trump’s Speech to Congress on WSTM/WTVH

On Feb. 28, 2017, President Donald J. Trump addressed a Joint Session of Congress to outline in more detail his foreign and domestic policy priorities. The wide-ranging speech touched on several national security issues, including immigration, border control, and the ongoing struggle against terrorism, both at home and abroad. Syracuse, NY-based TV news stations WSTM and WTVH asked INSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli to discuss Trump’s performance in live interviews after the address. 

SU Panel of Experts to Discuss President Trump’s Immigration Executive Order, Feb. 24, 2017

Action by President Donald J. Trump on immigration policy has been swift. Just a week after his inauguration, Trump issued an executive order (EO) temporarily halting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. It was immediately met with popular protests, scholarly analysis, and eventually judicial review in the forming of a temporary restraining order (TRO) upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“I worry the damage is already done,” says Ken Harper. “I know that some SU departments are seeing a decrease in student and faculty interest.”

Critics contend the Jan. 27 EO wrongly suspended travel for all immigrant and non-immigrant visa holders from the seven countries, including those holding resident alien, student, and business travel visas. The TRO lifted some of these restrictions, but a chilling effect on business and educational travel—including to and from Syracuse University—has been reported.

Trump’s immigration policy continues to evolve rapidly. The president, after resolving to push the original EO through the courts, now appears to be preparing a new executive order; the Department of Homeland Security has issued “guidance memos” that outline plans for “aggressive enforcement of immigration laws”; and confusion about how to implement the original EO continues.

For those confused by Trump’s immigration EO; interested in the legal, social, and political ramifications of Trump’s immigration policies; or even affected by the original “travel ban,” the International Law Society will host an interdisciplinary roundtable on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Empire Lecture Hall, 440 Dineen Hall, SU College of Law.

Speaking at “President Donald J. Trump’s Immigration Order & Travel Ban” will be SU experts from the fields of political science, Middle East studies, immigration law, international law, human rights, and public affairs: Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Chair, Department of Political Science, Maxwell School; Ken Harper, Director, Newhouse Center for Global Engagement; Gary Kelder, Professor, SU Law; Andrew Kim, Associate Professor, SU Law; Stephen Pike, Assistant Professor, Newhouse School; and Corri Zoli, Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.

SU Law LL.M. students Kseniia Guliaeva and Amanda Freire de Almeida developed the idea for the panel after hearing from friends and colleagues in the wake of the Jan. 27 EO. “Many of us know people personally affected by the EO,” says Guliaeva, a Fulbright scholar from Krasnoyarsk in central Russia. “They have a lot of questions about what is happening, and they pushed us to organize this event.”

Freire de Almeida, from Belém, Brasil, says she has friends from Iran and other countries listed in the EO, some of whom are now reluctant to leave the US to visit family. “I believe that the travel ban has been very chaotic, but I believe that justice will prevail,” she says. When setting up the panel, she and Guliaeva wanted to ensure that many viewpoints would be heard, not just legal. “I hope the discussion will help the audience respect a diversity of views. When critiquing the EO, we can’t just rely on one perspective, we must open our minds in order to reach a common sense opinion.”

Panelist Mehrzad Boroujerdi says he also knows of SU students who aren’t travelling abroad and others reconsidering their decisions to attend the University. The panel, he hopes, will give students and others a more “holistic” view of issues surrounding immigration and Trump’s “travel ban,” although he is skeptical that even a revised order will calm the waters. “The EO was an ill-advised and draconian measure,” he says. “Re-writes will be tried, but if Trump insists on some of the more radical aspects, then protracted legal battles will ensue. Even if it is presented in a revised manner, it will have a chilling effect on research and studies at SU.”

I worry the damage is already done,” says Ken Harper, another panelist. “I know that some SU departments are seeing a decrease in student and faculty interest.” Harper, who works on international student projects, says he is concerned about how new immigration policies will affect SU’s international partnerships. “What better way to cut higher education institutions off at the knees than push international students away. We are in uncharted territory with this administration’s immigration actions.”

“The Jan. 27 EO came at a time of crisis in international affairs over immigration and refugees, a crisis that is testing whether norms and assumptions are sustainable,” say panelist Corri Zoli, putting the US immigration debate into its geopolitical context. “The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there’s an unprecedented 65 million forcibly displaced people on the move today, including more than 21 million refugees, more than half of whom are children. Many are fleeing conflict zones and rising ethnic and religious persecution in the Middle East and North Africa, while others are escaping from unsustainable economic and political conditions.”

As a young lawyer interested in a career in international law and human rights, Freire de Almeida believes that the strengths of American jurisprudence and separation of powers will balance the president’s executive powers in this case. “The US has a strong judicial system,” she says, “and you just can’t rely on presidential orders to create law.” Guliaeva, however, declined to predict what path Trump’s immigration policies will follow. “I will be able to answer that question with more authority after attending the panel discussion on Friday!” she says.