August 29, 2015

SHI’I MILITIAS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA

Assad Allah al-Ghalib Forces in Iraq and al-Sham: originally Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib, a Shi'a militia that evolved out of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas in the Damascus area- it has active contingents today in both Iraq and Syria, treating the two countries as one battlefield.

Click here for PDF The following is a summary of a presentation given by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi on the proliferation of Shi’i militias in Iraq and Syria, morphing from small foreign contingent deployments in the Syrian civil war in 2012 into what is currently a major cross-border phenomenon viewing Iraq and Syria as one battlefield. They are fueled and organized in no small part by Iran, whose overall regional influence is more powerful than ever with the rapid growth of Shi’i militancy. It … [Read more...]

EUROPE AND THE CHANGING MIDDLE EAST

Migrants arriving on the Italian Island of Lampedusa in August 2007 (Photo: Sara Prestianni / noborder network - http://www.flickr.com/photos/noborder/2495544558/)

Click here for PDF The following transcript addresses European domestic and foreign policy since the start of the Arab Spring and in light of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It also discusses increasing antisemitism in Europe. It is part of a symposium entitled, “Regime Collapse and Sectarian War: Where is the Middle East Headed?” The symposium was held on March 15, 2015, to mark the launch of the newly named Rubin Center for International Affairs in honor of MERIA founder and former editor the … [Read more...]

ESTIMATES ON THE GLOBAL THREAT OF ISLAMIC STATE TERRORISM IN THE FACE OF THE 2015 PARIS AND COPENHAGEN ATTACKS

Tausch - MJ v19n1 - Map 1

Click here for PDF This article estimates the probable conflict intensity in connection with Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS and ISIL) terrorism. Based on Pew data, covering 2/5 of the global Muslim population, it is estimated that 17.38 percent of Muslims worldwide openly express terror sympathies (five terrorism support indicators used). Quantitative estimates on terror support rates for a number of additional countries are also provided, based on European Social Survey (ESS) data … [Read more...]

HIZBALLAH, THE JIHAD IN SYRIA, AND COMMEMORATIONS IN LEBANON

Sign in Nabatiya, Lebanon, honoring Hizballah "martyrs" killed in Syria

Click for PDF This report--in part based on a two-week trip to Lebanon in April 2015--examines the role of Hizballah in the ongoing Syrian civil war, particularly its relation with the wider Shi’i jihadi militia efforts in support of the Assad regime. The article also examines “martyrdom” commemorations for Hizballah fighters killed in Syria, with a collection of tombstones and posters in a variety of locations throughout Lebanon examined in parallel with online evidence. HIZBALLAH AND … [Read more...]

THE ISLAMIC STATE VS. THE KURDISH YPG IN NORTHERN-CENTRAL SYRIA: AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT

YPG Kurds returning fire against ISIS

Following is an excerpt from an account of a reporting trip undertaken by the author to the Kobani enclave in northern Syria and to the Syria-Turkey border area in May 2014.  During the course of this trip, the author interviewed both YPG and IS fighters and visited frontline areas in which the two forces faced each other. The excerpt is part of a book project on the sectarian war in the northern Levant and in Iraq. ISIS was already by this stage acquiring a reputation that set it apart from … [Read more...]

THE PKK AND THE GUERRILLA TRADITION OF TURKEY’S KURDS

Protesters in Taksim Square, Turkey, hold Abdullah Ocalan posters, June 7, 2013.

Since 1984, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish authorities intermittently and with varying success. This article studies how this rural-type insurgency was staged, placing it within the context of a tradition of resistance to Turkish rule among Turkey’s Kurds. It highlights the development of a consistent guerrilla tradition among Turkey’s Kurds in the early twentieth century as well as how and why the party deviated from this … [Read more...]

ISIS CALIPHATE MEETS CHINA’S SILK ROAD ECONOMIC BELT

Map 1: ISIS Caliphate in Five Years’ Time

This report examines the clashing ambitions between ISIS and China. With ISIS’s declaration of a caliphate that encompasses China's Muslim Xinjiang, Chinese strategists will now consider how ISIS’s Eastward pivot will impact China’s own Westward march to create a Silk Road Economic Belt across Eurasia. While the Western U.S.-led coalition continues to be hamstrung by a lack of ground forces, the coveted "boots on the ground" could eventually come from the East--as China asserts its … [Read more...]

THE PARTICIPATION OF NORTH CAUCASIAN JIHADISTS IN THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR AND ITS SECURITY IMPLICATIONS

Scene of trolleybus bombing in Volgograd, Russia, December 30, 2013, just weeks before the commencement of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

 This article examines the participation of North Caucasian fighters in the Syrian Civil War, including their motivations for joining the conflict, activities and recruitment, and their ties with jihadi networks. It also discusses the international and security implications, for Russia in particular, and the role of certain Gulf states as financers. It concludes that North Caucasians not only participate in combat but also contribute to recruitment efforts by drawing in volunteers from … [Read more...]

MERIA SPECIAL REPORT: NORTHERN STORM AND THE SITUATION IN AZAZ

The Mus’ab ibn Umair Mosque in Azaz

EDITOR’S NOTE This MERIA special report is the product of a reporting trip undertaken by its author to the town of Azaz between December 18-22, 2014.  Visits by researchers and journalists to northwest Syria have become rare in the past year because of the accompanying risks.  As a result, it has become difficult to gain a clear picture of the situation on the ground in the rebel-controlled areas.  This, in turn, has impoverished discussion among policymakers, specialists, and the public … [Read more...]

GROWING ANTISEMITISM AND ANTI-JEWISH HATRED IN THE NETHERLANDS

The synagogue in the town of Veghel, Netherlands. The community in Veghel was a small mediene community, which reached its height around 1900. In the years following the community shrank to some 30 members, and was eventually completely destroyed during the Holocaust.

PDF version available here This article discusses increasing anti-Jewish hatred in the Netherlands, in particular due to the growing Muslim immigrant population there. Though the Dutch government has been traditionally friendly to Israel and there has been proportionately less antisemitism there compared to in other European countries, shocking slanders appear about Israel in the mainstream Dutch media and there has also been an academic boycott of Israel. In addition, Dutch politicians … [Read more...]