I admit to some initial ambivalence over the extension of the American-led air war against the Islamic State (I.S.) into Syria. After forty-two months of President Obama’s inaction in Syria, there was an irrepressible sense of “at last”. This quickly unravelled. Continue reading
Middle East Monitor Online (MEMO) has published an article by Yvonne Ridley that consists of an interview with Hassan Abboud just a few hours before he and most of the Ahrar a-Sham leadership were killed on September 9. The accusations Ridley records Abboud levelling against the Islamic State (I.S.) are deeply upsetting to the conventional view of the Syrian conflict. Continue reading
This morning, after forty-two months of trying to stay out, the United States launched airstrikes into Syria. The strikes overwhelmingly targeted the Islamic State in ar-Raqqa City and its surrounding areas, reportedly killing seventy I.S. jihadists, but there was a second barrage of strikes in Idlib, which are said to have killed fifty jihadists, and were directed against a shadowy outfit that emerged in the press a little over a week ago called the Khorasan Group. Continue reading
The Islamic State’s official spokesman, Abu Muhamad al-Adnani al-Shami, gave a speech, released by al-Furqan Media on 21 September 2014, entitled, “Indeed Your Lord Is Ever Watchful”.
The main message was in al-Adnani’s conclusion: a call for Muslims in the West to kill their non-Muslim neighbours—or to maim them or destroy their property or at the very least spit in their faces if Muslims are unable to acquire the weapons or courage for murder rampages. “Do not be contemptible,” al-Adnani implores. Al-Adnani’s incitement to “lone wolf” attacks was justified as a response to aggression by a coalition consisting of America, the Assad regime, and Iran. Continue reading
Last month, Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic published an interview with Hillary Clinton. At 8,000 words it can be off-putting to plough through, but I have now finally got around to it, and it is rather interesting. The interview focusses on the three areas where President Obama’s foreign policy has so conspicuously failed—Syria, Iran, and Israel—and also includes sections on Egypt and Libya, where the administration’s failure has been somewhat less in the news. Continue reading
In June, those of us who try to keep up with events in the Greater Middle East suffered a devastating blow when the Lebanese-American scholar Fouad Ajami passed away. Having broken with the orthodoxy of his generation of Arabs and his scholarly field, both represented in the person of Edward Said, Ajami provided insight into the Arab/Muslim world that restored the agency of that world. Continue reading
On Wednesday night, President Obama gave a speech, the purport of which was to be a war plan to defeat the Islamic State (I.S.). Indeed in the speech the President committed to a “roll back” of the territory the I.S. had conquered, and to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Takfiri Caliphate. But as to how he was going to do that, the details were few. Continue reading
On August 11, Jamaat Ansar ad-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis (The Group of the Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem), released a “martyrdom” notice for “the mujahid brother” Mahmoud Nayef al-Qayrnawi (Abu al-Bara) of Gaza, who was killed by the regime on July 26 while fighting for the Islamic State (I.S.) at the Sha’ar gas field in Homs.
This is not the first Gazan jihadist killed in Syria. Continue reading
On August 25, Bashar al-Assad’s Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem, said: “Syria is ready for co-operation … to fight terrorism.” The week before Assad’s PR guru, Bouthaina Shaaban, told CNN that an “international coalition,” including Russia, China, America, and Europe, should intervene to defeat the “terrorists,” whom she says make up the rebellion in Syria.
Back in March I wrote a long post laying out the evidence that the Assad regime was deliberately empowering then-ISIS, now the Islamic State (IS), helping it destroy moderate rebels and even Salafist and Salafi-jihadist forces, with the intention of making-good on its propaganda line that the only opposition to the regime came from takfiris, which would frighten the population into taking shelter behind the State, seeing this madness as the only alternative, and would at the very least keep the West from intervening to support the uprising and might even draw the West in to help defeat the insurgency. These statements represent the culmination of that strategy. Continue reading