May 4, 2016

Black Banner at the Gates of Europe

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond speaks during a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta at the Pentagon, July 18, 2012. The two defense leaders discussed issues of mutual concern. (Source: United States Department of Defense)

The Islamic State Comes to Libya At a meeting of G5 world leaders in Hanover, Germany this week, a proposal was raised for US warships to join vessels of EU navies off the coast of Libya.  Their mission would be to help slow the flow of migrants from Africa. They would also be responsible for guarding the southern tip of Europe from seaborne terror attacks.  Such a notion, unimaginable a few years ago, is now very much on the range of possibilities. British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond … [Read more...]

The Changing ISIS Threat

isis in anbar

Islamic State loses ground in Iraq and Syria, advances in Libya The reconquest by the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of the town of Qaryatayn from Islamic State this month is the latest indication of the declining fortunes of the extremist organisation in Iraq and Syria, following the loss of Palmyra in late March. Facing determined enemies on three fronts, the Sunni jihadis would appear to be adopting a policy of tactical retreat to preserve their forces for the vital battles … [Read more...]

A Caliphate under Strain: The Documentary Evidence

Item A: Salary scheme of $360 per month for an Islamic State member with two wives and six children in Wilayat al-Baraka (Hasakah province). It was part of a cache of documents left behind in al-Shaddadi in Hasakah province after the Islamic State lost control of the area to the Syrian Democractic Force (SDF). It was provided to the author by a Syrian Kurdish journalist who visited al-Shaddadi in February-March 2016.

Abstract: Internal Islamic State documents, including documents obtained by the author and published here for the first time, shed new light on how the Islamic State has come under strain as it is degraded by coalition air strikes and loses territory. The internal records make clear these pressures have been felt in the group's military, financial, and administrative domains, forcing it to take measures to react and adapt. But while the so-called Caliphate has come under pressure, there is … [Read more...]

Ready for the Storm: Israel and the Syrian War

IDF soldiers prepare near Israeli-Syrian border

War in Syria – and Israeli efforts to ensure it does not spread to the Golan, West Bank – set to continue The fragile cease-fire declared in Syria on February 27 between regime and rebel forces is in the process of crumbling. Assad’s forces have launched an offensive across southern Aleppo province. Fighting is also taking place in Homs and northwest Hama provinces and east of Damascus. There are reports of regime forces massing for an assault on rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo … [Read more...]

Towards a Coherent Western Policy on Syria

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.

The following article was published by the Centre for the New Middle East at the Henry Jackson Society Towards a Coherent Western Policy on the Syrian War Key points: Syria today is divided into areas of control.  The Russian intervention means that the Assad regime can no longer be defeated militarily, except by a direct western military intervention against Assad which clearly will not happen. Western policy on Syria has been characterized by hesitation and by an inability to … [Read more...]

The Archivist: Unseen Islamic State Military Commanders Manual: Qualities and Manners of the Mujahid Commander

Islamic State Military Commanders Manual: Qualities and Manners of the Mujahid Commander

Islamic State
Camps Administration

Qualities and manners of the mujahid commander
Appendix on military missions

Not be sold or distributed

In keeping with its statehood image, the Islamic State (IS) seeks to present its fighting forces as akin to an organized military, with a bureaucratic department known as the Diwan al-Jund (Soldiers Department) as part of the system of Diwans to cover various aspects of state governance since the declaration of the Caliphate. To be sure, there is still a considerable degree of obscurity as to the nature of organization of the military. From thedocumentary evidence, names of various battalions … [Read more...]

Interview with Eve Harow: Reporting on the Syrian War and the Current Situation in the Middle East

CBN interview1

Click here to access the interview … [Read more...]

War and Madness: A Retrospective of Five Years of Reporting on the War in Syria

Jonathan Spyer (right) with YPG fighter.

The cold numbers are the first thing that hit you. Figures telling of a human catastrophe on a scale hard to compute. Suffering on a level to which any rational response seems inadequate – 470,000 people killed, according to the latest estimates; 11.5 percent of the population injured; 45 percent of a country of 22 million made homeless; 4 million refugees and 6.36 million internally displaced persons. Life expectancy is down from 70.5 years in 2010 to an estimated 55.4 years in 2015. Welcome … [Read more...]

Defections from Harakat al-Muthanna in Deraa: Translation & Analysis

Katibat al-Murabitun statement

In my analysis on the infighting in Deraa province for Jihadology, I noted that although Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya (the Islamic Muthanna Movement- HMI) is actively at war with rebel factions in the western Deraa countryside and is cooperating with the Islamic State [IS]-linked Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade- LSY) in this regard, there have been no indications of infighting further east between the Deraa al-Balad (southern Deraa city) HMI contingent and rebel forces, as … [Read more...]

Analysis: The Retaking of Palmyra from the Islamic State

Temple of Bel complex in the background and the agora on left center in Palmyra, Syria, April 2010 (Source: Bernard Gagnon).

The retaking of the ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State (ISIS) by the Syrian regime backed with intense Russian airpower is predictably being hailed as a victory over terrorism. Symbolically, of course, the recapture of Palmyra allows for the regime and Russia to portray themselves as the defenders of civilization over barbarism, as ISIS had destroyed some of the most archaeological sites in the area last year. But what do the events tell us about Russia's broader approach towards … [Read more...]