July 4, 2015

Turkey’s Syrian Kurdish problem


Jerusalem Post, 3/7 Syrian Kurdish forces this week succeeded in turning back a murderous and determined attempt by the forces of Islamic State to claw back control of areas of northern Syria recently liberated by the Kurds. The cost was high, nevertheless. Recent Kurdish successes, meanwhile, have raised the specter of a Turkish armed intervention in northern Syria to crush the growing Kurdish autonomous zones along the border. So where do things stand in the bloody war between the Kurds and … [Read more...]

The Islamic State One Year After the Caliphate Declaration

isis in anbar

As we pass the one-year anniversary since the announcement of ISIS's so-called "caliphate" demanding the allegiance of the world's Muslims and ultimately sovereignty over the entire world, much of the commentary has been far too ephemeral. The media has had a tendency to take whatever comes out immediately in the news -- such as the attack today in Sinai claimed by ISIS and its threat to Hamas in Gaza -- as indicative of long-term trends. This is true both on the ISIS home fronts in Iraq … [Read more...]

Islamic State Training Camp Textbook: Part II

Extract of required reading Muqarrar fi al-Tawhid textbook for all Islamic State training camp recruits.

Following on from my post featuring the first lesson of the required reading Muqarrar fi al-Tawhid textbook for all Islamic State training camp recruits, below is my translation of the second lesson from that book. The three principles Which every Muslim and Muslim woman must learn. Knowledge vs. ignorance: definitively realizing what something is. Principles: plural of principle, and as a word: the foundation and basis of something. As a technical term: that on which something else is … [Read more...]

Islamic State Training Camp Textbook: Excerpt and Analysis

Islamic State training camp textbook excerpt

As mentioned in my previous post on Islamic State [IS] training camps and military divisions, the work Muqarrar fi al-Tawhid (Course/Stipulations in Tawhid [Monotheism]) is a book written by IS cleric Turki Binali- issued in the name of the Diwan al-Eftaa wa al-Buhuth that also deals with IS fatwas- and is the key textbook for Shari'a education for recruits to the training camps, who must memorize and understand the book. Below is a translation of the first lesson in the book. Note in … [Read more...]

Islamic State Training Camps and Military Divisions

Omar Fawaz

Though much news coverage of Islamic State (IS) focuses on developments on the battlefronts between IS and its enemies in parallel with ephemeral assessments claiming IS is either winning or losing, little is known about the training camp processes and the army-like divisions. This post, translating and analyzing the testimony of a pro-IS source in Mosul called Omar Fawaz, aims to remedy this deficiency. Several points speak in favour of this source's reliability, beginning with the fact he … [Read more...]

RIP Keith Broomfield, Killed in a Firefight with ISIS

The late Keith Broomfield in Syria (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Spyer).

Keith Broomfield, of Westminster, Massachusetts, was born in 1979 and buried this week. He was 36. Keith was killed in a firefight on June 3rd with the Islamic State organization near the town of Kobani in northern Syria. He had been serving as a volunteer with the Kurdish YPG militia since February. Keith was a brave man, and a good friend. And his death wasn’t for nothing. The Syrian Kurds, with the help of the U.S. Air Force, are pushing the jihadis back across north east Syria now. Their … [Read more...]

Dutch OpinieZtv Interview with Jonathan Spyer


Voorafgaand aan de DAM-lezing in De Rode Hoed op 4 juni j.l. sprak OpinieZtv met Jonathan Spyer over de oorlog in Irak en Syrië en de positie van Israël. Spyer is bekend vanwege zijn verschillende bezoeken aan de Syrische gebieden in handen van de opstandelingen. Bepaald geen ongevaarlijke onderneming, zeker niet voor een Israëliër!   In het interview vertelt hij waarom Israël haar aanvankelijk neutrale positie ten aanzien van de Syrische burgeroorlog heeft laten varen, waarom … [Read more...]

The Massacre of Druze Villagers in Qalb Lawza, Idlib Province

Muhammad Sharif Aqfali (Abu Aymenn)

On 10 June, a number of people in the village of Qalb Lawza- one of a collection of Druze villages in the Jabal al-Summaq region of Idlib province- were massacred in a confrontation with members of Jabhat al-Nusra, which dominates the area. Below are the names of those killed as a result of this clash. As is apparent from the family and middle names, many of these individuals appear to be close relatives of each other. 1. Sheikh Nadim Faris Shaheen 2. Sheikh Rasheed Sa'ad 3. Milad An'am … [Read more...]

Enemy of My enemy: Re-evaluating the Islamic State’s Relationship with the Ba’athist JRTN

A composite of images released by Baathist insurgent group Jaish Rijaal al-Tariqa al-Naqshabandiyya (JRTN) in 2014. (IHS Jane's/JTIC)

Introduction Since the full-blown revival of Iraq's Sunni insurgency at the beginning of 2014, there has been much misunderstanding of the relationship between the Islamic State and insurgents of Baathist orientation, principally represented by the Jaish Rijaal al-Tariqa al-Naqshabandiyya (JRTN). Much of the discourse on this subject attempts to tie the JRTN to the Islamic State, arguing that a so-called 'alliance of convenience' between the two groups has been key to the Islamic State's … [Read more...]

Fall of Eagles: The Eclipse of the Arab Nationalist State

Houthi Declaration

The most significant dynamic in the Middle East over the last decade has been the collapse of strong, centralized regimes in a series of Arab states and their replacement by chaos, civil war, and the proliferation of non-state militias. This collapse has taken place in five states: Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and—in a very different way—Lebanon. The Palestinian national movement has also fragmented. This phenomenon is particularly relevant given that the chaos resulting from the collapse of … [Read more...]