Monthly Archives: September 2014

America Must Go After Assad As Well As The Islamic State

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

Aftermath of strikes on Jabhat an-Nusra's HQ in al-Muhandisin district of Aleppo City, Sept. 27, 2014

Aftermath of strikes on Jabhat an-Nusra’s HQ in al-Muhandisin district of Aleppo City, Sept. 27, 2014

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

A Syrian Rebel Commander Accuses Iran of Helping The Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 25, 2014

Is there anything Hajj Qassem can't do?

Is there anything Hajji Qassem can’t do?

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

The ‘Khorasan Group’ And Al-Qaeda Central

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

Muhsin al-Fadhli

Muhsin al-Fadhli

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

Islamic State Spokesman Calls For Attacks Against the West

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

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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

Has Hillary Clinton Become A Hawk?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 21, 2014

The next American President?

The next American President?

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

Book Review: The Struggle For Mastery In The Fertile Crescent (2014) by Fouad Ajami

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 16, 2014

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

Obama Declares War On The Islamic State … Kind Of

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

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

What Now For Ahrar a-Sham?

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

Ahrar a-Sham's leader, Hassan Abboud

Ahrar a-Sham’s leader, Hassan Abboud

 

A mysterious explosion decapitated the Syrian rebel group Ahrar a-Sham on September 9. This could have major implications for the rebellion as a whole.
Continue reading

What Role Do The Palestinians Play In The Jihad In Syria And Iraq?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 6, 2014

Notification from Ibn Taymiyya Media Center's Facebook page on the "martyrdom" of Gazan Muhammad Ahmed Qanitah (March 2013)

Notification from Ibn Taymiyya Media Center’s Facebook page on the “martyrdom” of Gazan Muhammad Ahmed Qanitah (March 2013)

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

Provocation and the Islamic State: Why Assad Strengthened the Jihadists

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 3, 2014

An opposition poster showing Assad and the Islamic State as two sides of the same coin

An opposition poster showing Assad and the Islamic State as two sides of the same coin

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