Wanted: A Counter-Iran Strategy
By  Jonathan Spyer 
American Interest, 11/1 A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced. According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism f ...

Iran: An Interim Assessment
By  Jonathan Spyer 
Jerusalem Post, 13/1 The protests in Iran appear, for now at least, to be subsiding. The key moment was the decision to task the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps with security in the three provinces that formed the center of the unrest – Hamadan, Isfahan and Lorestan. It is still too soon to say that the wave has entirely spent itself. Demonstrations are still taking place, despite the IRGC’s announcement on Monday of an end to the unrest. In the cities of Sanandaj, Zahedan, Meybod, Abark ...

An article in Hebrew on my work in Syria
By  Jonathan Spyer 
Walla, 7/1 https://news.walla.co.il/item/3125239 ...

Beit Jann: Myths and Reality
By  Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi 
The Syrian government's recent recapture of the last rebel-held pocket in the vicinity of Mt. Hermon (Jabal al-Sheikh) near the border with the Golan Heights- comprising the three towns of Beit Jann, Mazra'at Beit Jann and Mughir al-Mir- has led to much... ...

Fawj al-Karbala'i: Republican Guard Affiliate
By  Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi 
The elite Republican Guard is one of the main actors on the government side in the Syrian civil war that set up auxiliary formations. Prominent examples include the Popular Defense Forces (Quwat al-Difa' al-Sha'abi) primarily based in the Qalamoun area... ...

Saraya al-Ra'ad: Idlib Local Defence Forces Affiliate
By  Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi 
Previously on this blog I have sought to explore the Iranian-backed Local Defence Forces (LDF) networks beyond Aleppo province (where it is most prominent), such as the Damascus LDF affiliate Saraya al-Wa'ad. There are also LDF affiliates with visible... ...

"Tales From the Middle East Quagmire" – Interview by Terrance Mintner
Destruction in Homs, Syria, April 2017. By  Jonathan Spyer 
In the summer of 2012, British-Israeli journalist Jonathan Spyer found himself in the basement of a hospital along with other Syrian civilians in bombed-out Aleppo City. They quickly took cover upon hearing the Assad regime’s aircraft patrolling the skies like a swarm of angry hornets. Their choice of refuge within Dar al-Shifa Hospital was a calculated move, a bet on human decency. Surely the regime wouldn’t target a hospital where the wounded and dying lay. Or would it? Assad, as many have ...

Success for al-Qaeda in Syria?
Flag_of_the_Al-Nusra_Front By  Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi 
Abstract This article considers how far one can describe al-Qaida's experiences in Syria as a success. A common line of analysis has been that al-Qaida has been playing a more successful long-term game in Syria as opposed to its more aggressive rival, the Islamic State. This article examines that argument more closely through exploring the nature of the relationship between al-Qaida and Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, the latest successor initiative to the original Syrian al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nu ...

‘Days of the Fall’ Now Available
Days of the Fall: A Reporter's Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars By  Jonathan Spyer 
Over five years, Jonathan Spyer reported from the depths of the wars, spending time in Aleppo, Baghdad, Damascus, Mosul, Idlib, Hasaka and other frontline areas. He witnessed some of the most dramatic events of the conflict – the rescue of the trapped Yezidis from the attempted ISIS genocide in 2014, the Assad regime’s assault on Aleppo, the rise of independent Kurdish power in north east Syria, the emergence of the Shia militias in Iraq as a key force. ‘Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Ji ...

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