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