There was consensus among SMA researchers and observers that:
- Da’esh represents a compound threat: it is both the organization and the violent extremist idea it represents.
- Da’esh battlefield loss in Iraq/Syria theater will not bring about an end to the salience of the extremist ideology that it represents. Rather, the “ideological battle” is likely to continue over the coming years with potentially unacceptable tolls on Western societies.
- The effort to mitigate the threat should be compound and comprehensive: addressing the regional conflict as a whole, not Da’esh only, using targeted kinetic options along with complementary messaging and other non-kinetic options.
The observations, research findings and implications presented below summarize the contributions of the separate research efforts included in this paper. They represent a three-pronged approach for encouraging support for regional stability by:
- diminishing the global allure of the jihadist ideology that Da’esh presents;
- attending to the underlying and persistent drivers of regional conflict;
- shaping and influencing narratives to minimize Da’esh appeal.
Asal, Victor, Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, Sara Cobb, Bob Elder, Todd Helmus, Bob Jones, Larry Kuznar, Gina Ligon, Jacob Olidort, Karl Rethemeyer, Jason Spitaletta, Gwyneth Sutherlin, and Joseph Young. 2016. "Options to Facilitate Socio-Political Stability in Syria and Iraq." SMA White Paper (November). http://nsiteam.com/social/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/16.11-Options-to-Facilitate-Socio-Political-Stability-in-Syria-and-Iraq2....pdf