French Leftists with the “Syrian Kurds” Threaten Terrorism Against France

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 23 April 2018

The Facebook group for the Antifascist Forces in Afrin (AFFA) posted a video message and transcript yesterday, which was dated 12 April, threatening terrorist attacks against two NATO states, France and Turkey. AFFA, announced in February, comprises French-speaking Left-wing extremists, who are part of the foreign fighter brigades within the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) command structure in Syria. A rough translation of the statement (and the original) are reproduced below, with the key sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading

The Islamic State Spokesman Directs His Fury At Regional Governments

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 22 April 2018

An audio statement by the official spokesman of the Islamic State (IS), Abu Hassan al-Muhajir,[1] was released today. The speech was entitled, “By their example, be guided” or “So follow their guidance”—drawn from Qur’an 6:30. Abu Hassan continued the themes that have been cropping up in IS messaging and propaganda for the last few months that have more firmly reoriented IS away from its foreign attacks campaign toward a more local focus in the Middle East. IS has been stressing its post-caliphate insurgency—concentrated at the present time in Iraq, but with notable operations in Syria—and its war for influence with regional rivals for Muslim loyalty, whether governments such as Egypt and particularly Saudi Arabia, or other Islamist movements like Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya (HAMAS) in Gaza. Continue reading

Islamic State Admits to Colluding with the Syrian Regime

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 20 April 2018

Since the uprising in Syria began in 2011, Bashar al-Asad’s regime has followed a tried and trusted script to destroy the opposition by eliminating all engageable elements, creating a binary choice for the population and the world—the despotism or a terrorist takeover.

Asad bolstered extremists within the insurgency: letting Islamists out of prison while imprisoning secular activists, pushing a peaceful protest movement into violence, heightening sectarian tensions, and financial schemes of various kinds. Asad then then left IS alone for a year to build its caliphate, while obliterating rebel-held areas that could provide an attractive alternative to the dictatorship. Continue reading

Trump’s Syria Strike Upheld an Important International Norm, But Did No More

A version of this article was published at The Sunday Express

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 April 2018

Britain joined the United States and France in a round of punitive military strikes in Syria on Friday night. The Coalition was retaliating for a poison gas attack by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Duma area of Damascus on 7 April. The three targets the Allies went after were related to his chemical weapons program. This was a just operation that upheld the norms of the international system, but there are disturbing signs that it will not be linked to a course correction in Syria. Continue reading

Saudi Newspaper: Make Peace with Israel, Confront Iran

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 14 April 2018

Negev Desert, Israel (image source)

Al-Riyadh is the leading daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia. While Al-Riyadh’s exact status is contested, there is little doubt it is close to the Saudi government and some identify it as a “semi-official” in the Kingdom. It was therefore very interesting that the paper hosted an opinion editorial by Dr. Ahmad al-Jamiya on 14 April, republished below, which made the case for the House of Saud to make peace with the State of Israel as part of a policy to halt and reverse the Iranian revolution in the Middle East. Continue reading

Trump Should Not Fear Russia In Responding to Assad’s Chemical Attack

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 10 April 2018

A child receiving oxygen after a poison gas attack in Douma, near Damascus, Syria || SYRIAN CIVIL DEFENSE WHITE HELMETS VIA AP

A year to the day after the United States struck at a Syrian airbase to punish Bashar al Assad for a chemical weapons attack, the regime has suspectedly carried out another devastating chemical atrocity. Signs are that the United States will, again, respond with force, attempting to rescue some part of the fraying international taboo against the use of poison gas. The larger question remains how Assad has gotten away with this for so long—and why murder only with certain categories of munitions prompts retaliation. Continue reading

How the Islamic State Uses History to Justify Cruelty

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 2 April 2018

Al-Naba 125, page 10

The 125th edition of Al-Naba, the Islamic State’s (IS) weekly newsletter, has an article on page 10, “From History: A River of Blood”, which relays a story that gives a good example of how IS uses Islamic historiography to justify its brutality. Continue reading