The series of 15 essays explore the regional dimensions of the IS crisis, examining the reaction of key Middle Eastern actors, dynamics driving IS itself, the impact within Syria and Iraq respectively, as well as European policy options. The rise of IS is being seen as a significant challenge to neighboring states and Europe, but is also being used by some as an opportunity to press forward with domestic and regional political ambitions and frequently as a guarantor of the status quo. In some countries such as Lebanon, the threat posed by IS has helped forged regional consensus, in others like Syria it remains hugely divisive.
In a new overview essay, Julien Barnes-Dacey, Ellie Geranmayeh and Daniel Levy argue that:
“Any solution to the challenge posed by IS must focus on promoting policies that encourage regional rather than Western ownership of the push-back against the extremist group. By assuming central ownership of the response, Western-led intervention has relieved regional actors of responsibility. This is the moral hazard inherent in US and Western ownership of the anti-IS struggle: it enables regional allies to take more risks without facing repercussions and thereby transforms IS from a common threat to a manageable opportunity.”
The collection includes pieces examining the reaction from Europe, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and the Kurds, as well as pieces on the Islamic State's own regional ambitions.
The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. This paper, like all publications of the European Council on Foreign Relations, represents only the views of its authors.