Monthly Archives: July 2015

Turkey Fears A Kurdish State More Than The Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 28, 2015

A version of this article was published at NOW Lebanon 

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After years of threatening, Turkey directly intervened in Syria on Friday, launching airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS), and finally allowed the U.S. to use Incirlik for jet and drone attacks against ISIS. Concurrently, Turkey launched airstrikes into Iraqi Kurdistan against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Ankara is framing this as an equal-opportunities war on terrorists, but Turkey’s actions over the last four years in Syria give a lot of cause for wonder as to which side Ankara is on when it comes to terrorism. Continue reading

Reassessing the Saudi-led Intervention in Yemen

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 24, 2015

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The Saudi-led Operation DECISIVE STORM began in Yemen on March 25 as a campaign of airstrikes against the Iran-backed Houthis, to weaken them and re-install the president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was overthrown by the Houthis last September.

In April, I wrote in support of the Saudi-led operation for: (1) having drawn a line against Iran’s imperialism after Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq; (2) potentially decreasing the growth of the Islamic State (ISIS) by providing Sunnis, in Yemen and beyond, with an alternative form of resistance to Iran’s encroachments; and (3) offering a chance for more stability in Yemen, which was then in free fall with Iran, al-Qaeda, and ISIS capitalizing on the chaos. Continue reading

Demise of an ex-Saddamist in Libya

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

Abu Nabil al-Anbari

Abu Nabil al-Anbari

An Islamic State (ISIS) commander was killed in Libya in mid-June, The Daily Beast reported yesterday, after being “paraded … through the streets amid the taunts of onlookers, and then walked … to a gallows, where he was hanged.” This occurred in the eastern city of Derna, long a hotbed of Islamic militancy. The crucial thing about the “executed” ISIS operative is that he was an Iraqi and an FRE—a former (Saddam) regime element—who had been dispatched to Libya last year to oversee the cultivation of an ISIS branch.

Continue reading

Saddam’s Henchmen Were Fanatics Long Before They Joined The Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 20, 2015

Published at National Review

Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi (Haji Bakr), a former colonel in Saddam's intelligence , who became ISIS' director of strategic planning.

Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi (Haji Bakr), a former colonel in Saddam’s intelligence , who became ISIS’ director of strategic planning.

After long neglect, the media has finally recognized the role of the FREs—former (Saddam) regime elements—within the Islamic State (ISIS). But the pendulum has now swung too far: Some reports are now claiming that the FREs have transformed the leader of the terror army, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, into nothing more than a front man for the Baathists.

These suppositions are mistaken. Most FREs within ISIS have not been ideologically Baathists for a long time. Continue reading

The Iran Deal: More Terrorism And An Eventual Bomb—And That’s If It Holds

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 17, 2015

Published at The Independent

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With all the leaks and the numerous “interim” deals, the nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—made with Iran on July 14 contained few surprises. The deal makes Iran a threshold nuclear-weapons regime for its duration and smooths the path to an overt nuclear-weapons capacity afterward. In the meantime, it has given Iran extra resources for the export of terrorism. And that’s just if Iran keeps the deal. Continue reading

America Not Training Syria’s Rebels Isn’t “Failure”; It’s Policy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) July 13, 2015

Syrian rebels

President Obama gave a speech on Monday about the progress of the United States-led military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) in which he said that America would “do more to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria.” This is a promise that has been made repeatedly made and repeatedly broken. The President’s strategy of détente with Clerical Iran has given Syria to Tehran as a sphere of influence—which precludes the U.S. building up a viable alternative to both ISIS and the murderous Assad regime, which has been effectively under Iran’s control since late 2012. Continue reading

Is Ahrar a-Sham a “Moderate” Syrian Rebel Group?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 12, 2015

Ahrar a-Sham

To answer my headline simply: no, Ahrar a-Sham’s leadership is not what anybody in the West means by “moderate” Syrian rebels that could be supported.

The question is provoked by an op-ed in The Washington Post last night signed by Labib al-Nahhas, Ahrar’s foreign political relations officer, the culmination of a public-relations campaign by Ahrar to rebrand itself as the mainstream alternative to the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Assad tyranny we’ve all been waiting for. Continue reading