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Islamic State Dominates Reader Interest in 2015

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(Washington, DC) — In 2015 Middle East issues captured global headlines -- the Iran nuclear deal, violence in Jerusalem, the Syrian refugee crisis, Russia's entry into the Syrian conflict, terrorist attacks in the West, and more – and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, dominated reader attention on the Washington Institute for Near East Policy website.

Over 1.2 million visitors visited the Institute website for a total of nearly four million pageviews in 2015. While 37 percent of viewers were located in North America, 24 percent were in the Middle East, the majority in Saudi Arabia.

Below are the most popular items of 2015 in ascending order.

10. The Islamic State: A Video Introduction, Aaron Zelin: A look into the origins, goals, operations and evolution of the Islamic State through an introductory video presentation.

9. Hizballah and the Qods Force in Iran's Shadow War with the West, Matthew Levitt: An assessment of the joint operations of Hizballah and Iran's Qods Force.

8. A War Like No Other: Israel vs. Hezbollah in 2015, Jeffrey White: Will conflict break out between Israel and Hezbollah or will the two parties be able to manage escalation?

7. The War Between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement, Aaron Zelin: A critical examination of the history and evolution of relations between ISIS and al-Qaeda, exploring each group's agenda in the global jihadi arena.

6. Public Statement on U.S. Policy Toward the Iran Nuclear Negotiations, Bipartisan Group of American Diplomats, Legislators, Policymakers, and Experts: Members of this high-level group set benchmarks for an acceptable agreement to eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons capability.

5. Shiite Combat Casualties Show the Depth of Iran's Involvement in Syria, Ali Alfoneh: Iranian-backed militias are on the rise in Syria, and the IRGC has deployed more of its own ground forces to serve in direct combat roles in Syria.

4. Asset Test: How the United States Benefits from Its Alliance with Israel, Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollock: An analysis of the security and technological benefits of the U.S.-Israeli relationship in the post-Cold War era.

3. Friends with Benefits: Why the U.S.-Israeli Alliance Is Good for America, Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollock: The United States and Israel continue to work together on issues of terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and Middle Eastern politics.

2. Qatar and ISIS Funding: The U.S. Approach, Lori Plotkin-Boghardt: Private financial support from Qatar continues to bolster ISIS, impeding U.S. attempts to undermine its financial base.

1. Saudi Funding of ISIS, Lori Plotkin Boghardt: While Saudi Arabia views ISIS as a terrorist organization that poses a direct threat to the kingdom's security, questions continue to arise about private Saudi financial support for the group.

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The Washington Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.