Amjad Zain Al-Abidin Tohme – Department of Political Studies at Al-Mustansiriya Center for Arab and International Studies

The challenges and threats of non-traditional terrorism facing different countries of the world in general, and Iraq in particular, have escalated recently, coinciding with the increasing activities of groups that adopt terrorist and extremist ideas, the use of new and innovative tactics and methods in organizing themselves and carrying out their operations, a radical shift in their approaches, and the change of traditional spaces, which have been considered headquarters for spreading their ideas and attracting their followers, such as: places of worship, or headquarters of a secret nature, to be replaced by the Internet, social media, and other  Modern technologies, which required re-evaluation by countries and institutions concerned with combating terrorism and extremism, and then the development of new mechanisms and means to combat terrorist groups, reduce the negative effects of non-traditional threats, and readapt national security, through perceptions that marry the use of hard power on the one hand, and diplomacy and soft power on the other.

Perhaps what happened in the previous stage of the success of some terrorist groups in arranging themselves, gaining a large number of young people convinced of their ideas, and developing cross-border strategies and plans, which enabled them to control large areas of the territory of some countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa, and then the repercussions of this with regard to the increasing challenges and various problems, including waves of displacement and internal and external migration, as well as the adoption of some groups on new tools and dynamics to increase their legitimacy and acceptance by societies. Locality, and then achieving its goals of infiltrating within it, or implementing its other plans related to control, spreading extremist ideas, or carrying out terrorist operations within the territory of countries that it considers hostile to it, which increased the size of the challenges faced by countries in general, and forced them to resort to new methods of combating terrorism based on soft power and diplomacy.

This study aims to clarify the role of soft power in the implementation of Iraq’s counter-terrorism strategy, and how it can be used to strengthen Iraq’s efforts in this field and achieve some success in combating terrorism and extremism, while the study answers a specific question, regarding the role the soft power took upon fighting extreme terrorism in the past period, and whether the Iraqi government has benefited from the experience of some countries in this context, The study assumes that “soft power in its various forms and diplomacy have an important and fundamental role in efforts to combat terrorism and extremism, especially with the escalation of non-traditional threats posed by terrorist groups, which requires resorting to innovative methods and mechanisms in combating them and undermining their imminent danger, which can be applied to the Iraqi experience in combating terrorism”.

The research section – for the purpose of achieving the desired results of the study – on an introduction, three-pronged, and a conclusion, the first prong examines the theoretical approach to soft power, the second prong deals with some successful international experiences in the application of soft power in this field, while the third and last section dealt with developing a future vision for the Iraqi experience with regard to employing soft power in combating terrorism.

First: Soft power: a theoretical introduction The concept of power is one of the basic and main concepts in political science and international relations, and it means the ability to do things and control others, to make them do what they would not want to do otherwise, and since the ability to control others is often associated with owning some resources, most specialists in political affairs define power: as having a set of advantages, including (population, territory, natural resources, economic size, military power, political stability), and nowadays, technology, education, and economic growth factors have become more important in international power, while geography, population, and raw materials have become somewhat less important.