Monthly Archives: June 2014

ISIS Announces the Restoration of the Caliphate

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 29, 2014

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced that it had restored the caliphate on 29 June 2014. ISIS’s name was changed to simply the Islamic State (I.S.), and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, abandoned his kunya and proclaimed himself Caliph Ibrahim, his real name being Ibrahim al-Badri. The statement announcing that the areas I.S. rules in Syria and Iraq are now a caliphate, entitled “This Is The Promise of Allah [God],” was given by the group’s official spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, and was distributed by al-Hayat Media in Arabic, English, Russian, French, and German. The English version is reproduced below with some editions for transliteration and some interesting or important sections highlighted in bold. The speech lays out how the state should and will be governed—in other words, what I.S. envisions for its utopia. Continue reading

Is Jordan Next To Fall To ISIS?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 29, 2014

Jordan’s King Abdullah: The West’s closest Arab ally—but for how long?

It has been a rough fortnight for Jordan. After the fall of Mosul, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced an “unofficial” branch in Jordan and the Iraqi government surrendered its only legal border-crossing on the 110-mile frontier to tribal insurgents—opposed to ISIS, so far as can be told, but not without the danger they will be overwhelmed as has previously happened in areas like Fallujah, where the dam initially fell to local insurgents (albeit Ba’athists) and ISIS then pushed them out. Jordan has beefed up its border-defences but this has not stopped the speculation on whether Jordan, the “jewel in the ISIS crown,” will be the next domino to fall to the takfiris. Continue reading

Obituary: Fouad Ajami

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

I was genuinely devastated to learn of Fouad Ajami’s death late last night. I think it was more shocking because nobody had known he was ill. I had noticed the decreased frequency of his columns in the Wall Street Journal but he was not a regular in any sense, writing one or two a month, so it was not wholly out of the ordinary and then he had returned last week for what it now transpires was the final time.  Continue reading

To Save Iraq from ISIS: Get Rid Of Maliki, Support The Kurds And Syrian Rebels

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 20, 2014

The Peshmerga (those who face death): the people's army of Iraqi Kurdistan

The Peshmerga (those who face death): the people’s army of Iraqi Kurdistan

President Obama met with Congressional leaders on Wednesday to brief them on a “comprehensive approach” to Iraq, which for now will not include airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inside Iraq, “in part because”—as previously reported—”U.S. military officials lack sufficient information to hit targets that would shift momentum on the battlefield.” Obama has let this drag out so long that the Sahwa (Awakening), the Sunni Arabs who rose up against ISIS’s previous incarnations, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), are now either eliminated or mixed back in with ISIS and—crucially—other locally-focussed Sunni Islamist insurgent groups, notably the Sufi-Ba’athist Jaysh an-Naqshbandi. Defensible as this is, there are stronger reasons why the decision not to strike is correct.

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Book Review: Virtual Caliphate (2011) by Yaakov Lappin

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

I have yet to read a book more prescient than Yaakov Lappin’s about events in Iraq in the last few days. Having sketched out the way Salafi-jihadists have created the ministries of a future Caliphate in cyber-format—the simple fact that “Al-Qaeda would not be in existence were it not for the pervasive presence of online jihadis”—Lappin finished by suggesting three options: (1) we manage to take down this virtual Empire; (2) we manage to weaken it in cyberspace; or (3) the jihadists “upload” this virtual State into the real world. Continue reading

After The Fall Of Mosul

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 11, 2014

(2014-06-10)- 150,000 people flee Mosul

Traffic-jam as 150,000 people flee ISIS rule in Mosul

We might all hope to be vindicated so quickly. I wrote yesterday morning of the way the Iraqi government’s sectarianism and authoritarianism had created the space among Iraqi Sunni Arabs in which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could operate, and that I saw no way out of this, so one should expect escalating violence, chaos, and killing. By midday, Mosul, Iraq’s third city after Baghdad and Basra, had fallen to ISIS. Continue reading

Nouri al-Maliki Is Pushing Iraq Into The Abyss

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

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

Whatever one thinks about the decision in 2003 to finish the war Saddam Hussein started by annexing Kuwait, serious people should be able to agree that the way the country was abandoned by the United States—first politically after 2009 and then militarily—was deeply irresponsible, not least because of the motives of this decision. Continue reading