Monthly Archives: January 2015

America’s Silent Partnership With Iran And The Contest For Middle Eastern Order: Part Two

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 29, 2015

Assad meeting with the boss

Assad meeting with the boss

This is the second of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. This first part looked at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq. This part will look at the policy’s application in Syria; part three will look at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and part four will be a conclusion. Continue reading

The Islamic State Officially Expands to Afghanistan

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 26 January 2015

The spokesman of the Islamic State (ISIS), Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, gave a speech today entitled, “Say, ‘Die in Your Rage’,” which is drawn from a Surah of the Qur’an [3:119]. The main announcement from Adnani is the acceptance of another wilayat (province), i.e. foreign branch of IS, this time in Afghanistan, led by Hafiz Saeed Khan, a former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or “Pakistani Taliban” commander who broke away and formed a pro-ISIS faction in October. This follows the first declaration on this matter a month ago by IS’s caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which accepted “provinces” from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria. Adnani went on to make the foredoomed request that the Afghan jihadists “abandon disunity and factionalism” in order to join ISIS. Continue reading

America’s Silent Partnership With Iran And The Contest For Middle Eastern Order: Part One

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 25, 2015

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This is the first of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. This first part looks at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq. Part two will look at the policy’s application in Syria; part three will look at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and part four will be a conclusion. Continue reading

Film Review: JFK (1991)

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 23, 2015

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It was shockingly bad. One had known the contours of the story going in, but even bracing oneself for a Grassy Knoll enterprise will not prepare one for how sheerly dull and ludicrous is this film. Add to that the two-hundred minutes running time, and it is unbearable. Continue reading

A Debate On America’s Role In Syria’s Future

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 21, 2015

Devastation in Deir Ezzor, June 2013

Devastation in Deir Ezzor, June 2013

The McCain Institute hosted a debate last Thursday on the question, “Syria: Should the United States Do More?” Arguing in favour of the motion that the United States should do more was Michael Doran and Andrew Tabler. Arguing against were Joshua Landis and Aaron David Miller. Continue reading

The Long History of Middle Eastern State-Terrorism In Paris

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 19, 2015

Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi

Last week, Lee Smith wrote of the reasons that it was likely that there was a foreign hand, quite probably that of a State, in the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish deli in Paris. Smith noted that the French believe that the funding and weapons for the attacks came from abroad. Smith pointed to the historical record, in which terrorism in Paris is typically not carried out because of religion—or not directly: it might come from States that see themselves as god’s representatives on earth—or community grievances, but “because you’re getting paid to stage an operation on behalf of a particular cause or regime.” Smith gave three cases, and they seemed worth expanding on. Continue reading

Black September: the PLO’s Deniable Terrorism Wing

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 19, 2015

A Black September terrorist appears on the balcony in the Olympic Village in Munich, September 1972 (photo via AP)

The Black September group was formed in September 1971, ostensibly as a splinter from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), but in reality the PLO retained control of Black September and used it to carry out terrorist operations that raised the Palestinian organisations’ profile, without staining the PLO with these atrocities. Continue reading

Book Review: Introduction to the Qur’an (1953) by Richard Bell

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 13, 2015

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Richard Bell’s Introduction to the Qur’an is, at less than 200 pages, a brief and easily-digestible explanation of the context in which Islam’s “holy” book arose, and the problems of reconciling theological orthodoxy with historical accuracy. More than six decades after publication, the book remains influential in scholarship of the Qur’an. Continue reading

Jihadi Cleric Makes the Case for the Islamic State Leader as Caliph

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 8, 2015

Soon after the public emergence inside Syria of the then-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the spring of 2013, a treatise was published by the Bahraini jihadi scholar, Turki al-Binali, which is to date the only official biography of the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and piloted the idea that he was the caliph, i.e. the leader of Muslims worldwide. Al-Binali’s document, “Stretch [Out] the Hands to Give Allegiance to Al-Baghdadi”,[1] first published on August 5, 2013, would be amplified throughout late 2014 after ISIS declared that it had restored the caliphate last June and Abu Bakr took the mantle of caliph. An English translation of the document was produced on December 21, 2014, by someone using the name Ubaidullah ibn Adam al-Ibrahim on the pro-Islamic State Ansar al-Khilafa blog. It is reproduced below, with some editions for syntax and transliteration, to preserve it for study. Continue reading

Former Islamic State Leader Advises on Jihadist Conduct

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 6, 2015

dabiq-6

The sixth edition of the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, Dabiq, published on 29 December 2014, reproduced a speech by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, entitled, “Advice for the Soldiers of the Islamic State”. The speech was dated 13 September 2007. It is reproduced below with some editions in transliteration and some important sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading