Publications & CV


Oxford University Press, 2018

This book draws on extensive research with Ba'thist archives to investigate the roots of the religious insurgencies that erupted in Iraq following the American-led invasion in 2003. In looking at Saddam Hussein's policies in the 1990s, many have interpreted his support for state-sponsored religion as evidence of a dramatic shift away from Arab nationalism toward political Islam. While Islam did play a greater role in the regime's symbols and Saddam's statements in the 1990s than it had in earlier decades, the regime's internal documents challenge this theory.

The "Faith Campaign" Saddam launched during this period was the culmination of a plan to use religion for political ends, begun upon his assumption of the Iraqi presidency in 1979. At this time, Saddam began constructing the institutional capacity to control and monitor Iraqi religious institutions. The resulting authoritarian structures allowed him to employ Islamic symbols and rhetoric in public policy, but in a controlled manner. Saddam ultimately promoted a Ba'thist interpretation of religion that subordinated it to Arab nationalism, rather than depicting it as an independent or primary political identity.

The point of this examination of Iraqi history, other than to correct the current understanding of Saddam Hussein's political use of religion throughout his presidency, is to examine how Saddam's controlled use of religion was dismantled during the US-Iraq war, and consequently set free extremists that were suppressed under his regime. When the American-led invasion destroyed the regime's authoritarian structures, it unwittingly unhinged the forces that these structures were designed to contain, creating an atmosphere infused with religion, but lacking the checks provided by the former regime. Groups such as the Sadrists, al-Qaida, and eventually the Islamic State emerged out of this context to unleash the insurgencies that have plagued post-2003 Iraq.

Edited Volumes:

Vol. 61, No. 3 (Summer 2018)

Guest coeditor w/Tally Helfont, Special Issue of Orbis, Vol. 61, No. 3 (Summer 2018).

Editor’s Corner Summer 2018

    • Tally Helfont & Samuel Helfont

Mapping Today’s Jihadi Landscape and Threat

    • Colin P. Clarke & Assaf Moghadam

Assessing the Future Threat: ISIS’s Virtual Caliphate

    • Mia Bloom & Chelsea L. Daymon

Immunizing Iraq Against al-Qaeda 3.0

    • Frank R. Gunter

An Arab Option for Iraq

    • Samuel Helfont

Stability in Syria: What Would it Take to Make it Happen?

    • Benedetta Berti

Iran’s Hezbollah Model in Iraq and Syria: Fait Accompli?

    • Brandon Friedman

A More Forward Role for the Gulf States? Combatting Terrorism at Home and Abroad

    • Tally Helfont

Beyond Kinetic Operations: A Road Map to Success in Syria and Iraq

    • Nada Bakos

A Weary Hercules: The United States and the Fertile Crescent in a Post-Caliphate Era

    • Dominic Tierney

Extended Research Institute Monographs:

Foreign Policy Research Institute, 2009
    • (Philadelphia: Foreign Policy Research Institute, 2009) – 69 pp.

    • -Reviewed in the journal, American Diplomacy (Jan. 2010).

    • -Reviewed in Egyptian daily, Rose al-Yusuf, (Nov. 2009) (in Arabic).

    • Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, a bloody conflict broke out between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shias. This conflict has led some observers to see the entire region through the prism of the age-old Sunni-Shia struggle. However, dividing the Middle East along sectarian lines is not an accurate way to assess the loyalties or predict the actions of various regional actors. Divisions within Sunni Islamism run deep and are extremely important, both to the regional balance of power and to the United States’ efforts to combat terrorism. In fact, the division that will shape the future of Arab politics is not between Sunnis and Shia but among various understandings of Sunni Islamism.

The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 2009
    • (Tel Aviv: The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University Press, 2009) – 162 pp.

    • -Reviewed in a leading Kuwaiti daily, al-Rai (March 7, 2011) (in Arabic).

    • Yusuf al-Qaradawi is one of the most influential Islamic scholars living in the Middle East today. Though classically trained in Islamic studies at al-Azhar, his religious and political thought has been heavily influenced by modernity. This book provides a thorough examination of al-Qaradawi’s views on science, mass media, jihad, international relations, democracy, and feminism. In doing so it analyzes the way increased education, mass communication, and migration have changed the way al-Qaradawi and his Muslims followers perceive their religion.

    • The findings are based on hundreds of fatwas, sermons, and interviews in the Arab media, and on relevant secondary sources, both in English and Arabic. At the time of publication, no in-depth work of this length had been published on al-Qaradawi in English.

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