May 22, 2015

The March of Folly in Iraq


PJmedia, 19/5 (published under the title ‘Did US Policy Allow Ramadi to Fall?’) The fall of Ramadi to the fighters of the Islamic State is a disaster for the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The taking of the city brings IS to just over 60 miles from Baghdad. In addition to showcasing the low caliber of the Iraqi security forces, the events surrounding the fall of the city lay bare the contradictions at the heart of Western policy in Iraq. Prime Minister Abadi had … [Read more...]

A tremor in Iranian Kurdistan


Iranian Kurds break their silence Jerusalem Post, 15/5 The events this week in the Mahabad area of Iran’s Western Azerbaijan province cast light on the difficult situation faced by one of the region’s least-noticed minorities – the Kurds of Iran. The apparent attempt by an intelligence officer in Mahabad to rape an Iranian-Kurdish hotel worker, 25-year-old Farinaz Khosrawani, and the latter’s subsequent suicide by jumping from a fourth-floor window, led to furious protests by Kurds in … [Read more...]

Rise of the Islamic State and the Fading Away of the Rest of the Iraqi Insurgency: Interview with Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

The following interview was originally posted on Musings on Iraq. From 2013-2014 it seemed like there was a broad rebirth of the Iraqi insurgency. The protest movement against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government revived a number of groups, which had gone dormant by the time of the U.S. withdrawal in 2011. The Islamic State (IS) and the Jaish Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshibandi (JRTN), two organizations, which never ceased operating were regrouping as well. A rough agreement was made … [Read more...]

“We have the Swords”- Nasheed from Islamic State’s Ajnad Media

The ISIS-run Osama bin Laden Mosque in Tel Abyad, Raqqa Province. ISIS also runs at least one school and training camp each named after OBL.

One of the "darker" nasheeds of the Islamic State, similar in tone to "We have come as soldiers for God": We have the raging, smiling [gleaming] swords, We have the cry of truth when the clash takes place. We are the defiant, raging lions, Breaking iron with strong determination, Breaking iron with strong determination. When war comes with the melody of bullets, We descend on disbelief, desiring retaliation. They nourish death: for there is no escape, While we nourish guidance from … [Read more...]

Assad Not Finished Yet


A number of reports have been published in recent days suggesting the tide of the war in Syria may finally have turned decisively against the Assad regime. The reports cite a series of successes the Syrian rebels have achieved in recent weeks, and suggest the dictator and his allies will have difficulty reversing these setbacks. So is the game really finally up for the bloodstained regime of the Assads? A close examination of the evidence suggests that President Bashar Assad’s eulogizers have … [Read more...]

Interview with the leader of Harakat al-Nujaba: Translation and Analysis

Harakat Hizballah al-Nujaba (HHN: The Movement of the Party of God of the Outstanding)

Harakat Hizballah al-Nujaba (HHN: The Movement of the Party of God of the Outstanding) is one of the major new Shi'a political and militant organizations to have emerged in Iraq, first coming to the fore in 2013 with its deployments to Syria in the form of multiple front groups, such as the Liwa Ammar ibn Yasir. Like Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata'ib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization, the group openly identifies with Iran ideologically, regularly featuring the portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader … [Read more...]

Muqawama Suriya Statement: Loss of Jisr al-Shughur: Translation and Analysis

Bashar al-Assad

The Muqawama Suriya, as I have profiled previously, is a pro-Assad militia led by Turkish born Alawite Ali Kayali, who prior to the Syrian civil war had been focused on bringing the Sanjak of Alexandretta in Turkey under Syrian rule. Though the group is primarily based in Latakia, it also had considerable influence in Idlib province, including in Idlib city and Jisr al-Shughur, both of which recently fell to rapid rebel offensives spearheaded by jihadist forces, including Jabhat al-Nusra and … [Read more...]

The Islamic State Comes to Damascus

The Jupiter temple in Damascus (by Ai@ce - Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

The latest reports suggest that Islamic State fighters have largely withdrawn from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk, on the outskirts of Damascus.The jihadis have returned to the district of Hajar al-Aswad, from where they launched their assault into the camp on April 1; the strongest element in the camp now is Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian franchise of al-Qaida.Islamic State does not seem to have suffered a major defeat in Yarmuk. Rather, their intention was to strike a blow against the … [Read more...]

The Middle East Battle Lines Are Drawn

Rebel fighters prepare to launch an anti-tank missile towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Maaret al-Naaman village, in Idlib April 30, 2014.

In the last decade, the Middle East has been living through a political convulsion of historic proportions.  Regimes that once appeared immovable have been destroyed or have receded.  New forces have risen up and are making war over the ruins. The result of the effective eclipse in recent years of the states of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon has been the emergence of a large and chaotic conflict in the contiguous area once covered by those states.  The failure to develop coherent state-loyal … [Read more...]

Jamaat Ansar al-Islam: Eulogy to Abu Ahmad of Mosul: Translation and Analysis

A woman walks through her village outside of Mosul, Iraq on Jan. 4, 2008. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kieran Cuddihy)

This latest statement from Jamaat Ansar al-Islam is intended to commemorate Abu Ahmad of Mosul, a leading figure in Jamaat Ansar al-Islam's Iraq branch who was reportedly killed by the group's traditional rivals the Islamic State, whose claim to a state/caliphate it has officially rejected. However, on account of ideological overlap in that Jamaat Ansar al-Islam is also aspiring to a caliphate and the overwhelming power of the Islamic State [IS] inside Iraq, the overwhelming majority of … [Read more...]