Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Ilai Saltzman

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© 2014 James E. Kelly


The recent policies of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, combined with the collapse of the Syrian state in 2011, created conditions that led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or “ISIS.” As of November 2014, ISIS controls large areas of western and northern Iraq and northern and eastern Syria, an area roughly the size of Belgium. The rise of ISIS in the past three years has caught the attention of every major nation, especially the United States, and world leaders are justified in fearing a strong ISIS in the Middle East.

The purpose of this paper is to provide an analysis of the US strategy in combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The effectiveness of the United States strategy is closely linked with numerous factors, including the history of sectarian violence in Iraq. These factors will be explored throughout the paper. This analysis sheds light on the strengths and weaknesses of the US strategy and provides various ways the US can further its goals in the region.