The Civilitary Theory
CivlilItary Model II
Examples of Civilitary Model I
The Houthis in Yemen
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Examples of Civilitary Model III
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis
CivlilItary Model II: ISIL
ISIL evolved to Model I once it exploited overall instability in Iraq and Syria and began its territorial expansion. On June 29, 2014, ISIL proclaimed itself a “caliphate.” In many areas it governs, ISIL operates a primitive but rigid administrative system that is comprised of the the al-Hisbah morality police, the general police force, courts, tax collection and entities managing recruitment, tribal relations, finance, and education.
Model II requires a group to terrorize civilians both within its territory and in nearby states, and to execute terrorism around the world.
ISIL previously relied on so-called “lone wolf” actors that were simply inspired by ISIL to carry out attacks on their own abroad — including several incidents in the U.S. Recently, however, ISIL appears to be embarking on complicated, commanded and controlled multi-actor external operations and is developing a specific group within its organization dedicated to launching terrorist attacks around the world.
As a result, in October 2015, ISIL staged a massive terrorist attack in Ankara, Turkey, killing nearly 100 civilians and injuring hundreds. In November 2015, ISIL carried out a double bombing attack in Lebanon (43 civilians dead), claimed credit for bringing down a Russian airliner over Egypt (224 civilians dead), claimed a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks in Paris (more than 130 civilians dead and 350 injured in the deadliest attacks to hit the city since World War II and the most lethal terrorist attack in Europe since the Madrid bombings of 2004), and claimed a terrorist attack in a bus in Tunisia (12 civilians dead).
In Model II, states launch airstrikes against territorial terrorist groups. In this case, both U.S.-led coalition forces and Russia engaged in air campaign against ISIL. In response, ISIL started to embed itself among civilians in order to make itself indistinguishable from its surroundings. In December 2015, President Obama stated that the fight against ISIL continues to be a difficult, “as ISIL is dug in, including in urban areas, and they hide behind civilians, using defenseless men, women and children as human shields. So even as we are relentless, we have to be smart and target ISIL with precision.”
The following examples support President Obama’s statement. In October 2014, two Australian Super Hornet jets pulled out of a planned strike on a moving ISIL target in Iraq because the targeted terrorists fled into civilian areas. ISIL’s fighters, according a national security journalist, “adapted to bombing raids by fleeing for the safety of civilian areas when confronted by a threat from above.” “ISIL is now dispersing its assets to allow situations to be more survivable, requiring the U.S.-led forces to work harder to locate and appropriately target the group”.
Similarly, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that in response to Russia’s airstrikes in Syria, the terrorists are deploying armored hardware in close proximity to mosques because they know, according to the Russian spokesman, that Russian aviation would not strike them. Arabic news reports have indicated that most casualties from these airstrikes in northern Syria are civilians.
Currently, ISIL has no answer to the airstrikes of the US coalition or the Russian forces. It has to adapt to the new reality. As these bombings intensify, ISIL will take measures to blend more into the civilian habitat and make itself indistinguishable. News reports from the Syrian city of Raqqa confirmed, unsurprisingly, that in response to the heavy bombardment by Russian, French and U.S. fighter jets ISIL has now deliberately placing its command centers in civilian neighborhoods and has hidden its vehicles among the civilian population.
But this defensive adaptation strategy is not likely to satisfy ISIL. According to Civilitary Theory, ISIL needs to develop more robust offensive capabilities as a countermeasure and to expand beyond its current territories. In July 2015, a study by the Institute of the Study of War predicted that ISIL would likely expand regionally and project force globally in the medium term. Pictures taken during ISIL’s military parade in Al-Raqqah boasted a scud missile which could suggest that the group has obtained terroballistic capabilities. Nevertheless, as long as ISIL does not develop strong offensive capabilities in the form of terroballistic capabilities, it appears to remain in Model II.
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Examples of Civilitary Model II