Monthly Archives: May 2014

Are There Any Good Guys Left In Syria?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 30, 2014

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The short answer is “yes”. The longer answer is, “It depends on how good you want,” and discovering the answer to that relies on having a strategic vision of what you want from Syria. Continue reading

Obama Doubles-Down On His Foreign Policy At West Point

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 28, 2014

It was to be expected that this would be a bad speech. Attacked from all sides President Barack Obama was going to have to push back and that was always going to make the speech defensive. As usual, the President ploughed bravely into a battalion of straw men: positing extremes then selecting a cool middle way. But it was so much worse than that. The tone was not the problem; the content was. Continue reading

What Would Islamic Theocracy Look Like If It Came To The West? Quite A Lot Like Tower Hamlets.

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 23, 2014

Lutfur Rahman

With attention presently focused on the London borough of Tower Hamlets over allegations of massive voting fraud and other corruptions in yesterday’s Mayoral Election and the scenes of policemen having to guard British Election booths because of the high likelihood that the State authorities in this area will falsify the result, it seems like a good moment to have a look how it got to this. Continue reading

Film Review: This Is What Winning Looks Like (2013) by Ben Anderson

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 22, 2014

Journalist Ben Anderson

Ben Anderson did his filming between 2007 and the present in Afghanistan. He presents a picture of a country in free-fall, of a West in denial, and of a war that the Allies have given up on. Continue reading

ISIS’s Spokesman Denounces Al-Qaeda’s Leader, Claims ISIS Is The Victim

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 13, 2014

The spokesman of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, gave a speech via audio message on 11 May 2014, entitled “Udhran emir al-Qaeda” (Apologies, emir of al-Qaeda). Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, disowned ISIS, al-Qaeda’s prior Iraqi branch, in February, and then gave an extended statement a few days ago that placed blame for the schism squarely on ISIS. Al-Adnani’s speech was a response to al-Zawahiri, and it was among ISIS’s most stern attacks on al-Qaeda so far. Al-Adnani denounced al-Zawahiri for allegedly deviating from the outlook of Usama bin Ladin. Al-Adnani called on al-Zawahiri to reverse his ruling that accepted Jabhat al-Nusra’s split from ISIS. Al-Nusra has rebelliously broken its pledge of allegiance to ISIS, al-Adnani says, and al-Zawahiri’s duty was to side with ISIS against this renegade—not to join in a campaign of sedition and conspiracy against ISIS. Most intriguingly, al-Adnani denied that ISIS had ever been, in a formal sense, subordinate to al-Qaeda. Rather, says al-Adnani, ISIS had placed itself in a position of voluntarily labelling themselves as al-Qaeda and accepting the advice of the “elders of jihad” in order to unite the ranks of the jihadists. But, says al-Adnani, this was not a command relationship for ISIS’s internal affairs: witness, al-Adnani says, ISIS’s refusal to listen to al-Qaeda’s order to cease attacking Shi’i civilians. Though, says al-Adnani, ISIS did obey al-Qaeda in external matters, specifically not targeting Iran, where al-Qaeda has an important facilitation network that serves as its supply line from Afghanistan-Pakistan to the Arab world. Al-Adnani’s speech was translated today by Musa Cerantonio, an Australian convert to Islam who is one of ISIS’s most important international propagandist-recruiters. Al-Adnani’s speech is reprinted below. Continue reading

Why The Coup In Egypt Was The Worst Outcome

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 12, 2014

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While the Sisi regime presents itself to the West as a barrier against Islamism, its internal propaganda delegitimizes the Islamists by presenting them as the cat’s paw of the United States, playing on the widespread anti-Americanism in Egypt

David Kirkpatrick on The New York Times front-page brought the news everyone following Egypt already knows: the putschists in Cairo have reneged on their promises of pluralism and religious tolerance, which was part of their sell in bringing off the coup last July. Continue reading

In Advancing Turkey Toward Democracy The Army Is Not The Answer

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 10, 2014

Mustafa Kemal. He added the name Atatürk as part of his reforms of the Turkish language to the Latin script from the Perso-Arabic form.

It’s easy to see why Westerners admire Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He abolished the Caliphate, led a quixotic campaign for female emancipation (a grizzled soldier at the head of a feminist campaign!), and, in my view correctly, identified the theocratic rule of the Caliphate as the primary cause of the Ottoman Empire’s decline. Continue reading