COMOPS Journal

Analysis, Commentary and News Blog by CSC Staff. Send inquiries or submissions to:

An Achilles Heel for Saudi Wahhabis?

by Mark Woodward* On September first the British on-line paper The Independent reported on alleged plans by the Saudi Arabian government to demolish the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb and move his body to an unmarked grave. The Prophet’s tomb is located in the mosque he built in Madinah in the seventh century and is the second most important Muslim holy site. Millions of pilgrims visit every year.   The Independent’s story was based on a 61 page […] Read more »

Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #72

by Bruce Gregory*   Roxanne Cabral, Peter Engelke, Katherine Brown, and Anne Terman Wedner, “Diplomacy for a Diffuse World,” Issue Brief, Atlantic Council, September 2014.  Cabral (US Department of State and former Atlantic Council senior fellow), Engelke (Atlantic Council), Brown, and Wedner (US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy) call for a “fundamental retooling” of American diplomacy in the context of new forces and actors driving change globally and within nations.  Their cutting edge report builds […] Read more »

De-Romanticizing the Islamic State’s Vision of the Caliphate

CSC has released a new white paper entitled De-Romanticizing the Islamic State’s Vision of the Caliphate.  The Executive Summary is below, and you can download the full PDF here. Executive Summary Calls for restoration of the Caliphate are a regular feature of Islamist extremist communication, most recently and notably that of the Islamic State (IS) who in mid-2014 declared a new Caliphate and named their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as Caliph. This paper analyzes the extremist vision […] Read more »

ISIL Influence is Fueling Sectarianism in Indonesia

by Mark Woodward* [Editor’s note: Yesterday there were news reports that an ISIL-inspired plot to bomb a Carlsberg brewery in Malaysia was foiled.] Iraq and Syria have become magnets for Indonesian jihadists in much the same way that Afghanistan was in the 1990s. Over the past five years support of Salafi jihadi causes has steadily declined.  But lately the exploits of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have injected new energy into […] Read more »

Postdoc Position in Strategic Communication

The Center for Strategic Communication at Arizona State University has a postdoc position available for the 2014-2015 academic year.  Required qualifications are a PhD awarded no earlier than 2012 in Communication, Media Studies, or a related field/discipline, and demonstrated, relevant expertise in content analysis, coding, and quantitative analysis.  Desired qualifications are demonstrated, relevant expertise or experience in framing, media studies, social movements, conflict, climate change, and/or public policy.  Initial review of applications will begin on […] Read more »

Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #70

by Bruce Gregory* J. Samuel Barkin, Realist Constructivism: Rethinking International Relations Theory, (Cambridge University Press, 2010).  Barkin (University of Florida) has written a book of primary interest to IR theorists.  However, his insights, clear prose, and careful inquiry into distinctions and common ground between realism and constructivism have much to offer diplomacy scholars as they struggle with implications for their integrative and relational models.  Barkin is especially useful in his assessment of the strengths and […] Read more »

New White Paper: The Narrative Landscape of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

CSC has released a new white paper: The Narrative Landscape of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Executive Summary This report presents the results of an analysis of the narrative landscape produced in texts by and about al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) from 2007 to 2013. We analyzed invocation of cultural master narrative use by the group, and then performed a detailed thematic study of the texts using Critical Discourse Analysis. This report is timely, […] Read more »

Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #69

by Bruce Gregory* Hisham Aidi, “America’s Hip-Hop Foreign Policy,” The Atlantic, March 20, 2014.  Aidi (Columbia University) examines changes in the musical genre hip-hop, its political and cultural dynamics, and its use by US and European governments as an instrument of public diplomacy.  He compares the State Department’s hip-hop initiatives to the Cold War’s jazz diplomacy and discusses their perceived value over hard rock and heavy metal for deradicalization purposes.  Aidi explores hip-hop’s strengths and […] Read more »

Recent Publications from CSC

Security vs. Liberty: The Discourse on Terrorism in the United States and Morocco and Its Societal Effects by Valentina Bartolucci, CSC Visiting Fellow Pre-press open access here. Abstract: This article first analyzes some of the main features of the political discourse on terrorism interlinked with the counterterrorism discourse as first instantiated under the Bush administration. It then focuses on the appropriation of the US-led discourse by the Moroccan government as well as on some of its major effects, […] Read more »

Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #67

by Bruce Gregory* Christopher Anzalone, “The Nairobi Attack and Al-Shabab’s Media Strategy,” CTC Sentinel, October 2013, Vol. 6, Issue 10.  Anzalone (McGill University) looks at al-Shabab’s media strategy using micro-blogging on Twitter and audio statements by the group’s leaders during and after the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya.  His article compares al-Shabab’s recent campaign with past campaigns, evaluates technologies and message content, and discusses both in the context of ongoing conflict in Somalia. Daryl […] Read more »