The United States and Iran are seemingly days from signing an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that has been brought about by a series of American concessions. If the deal is signed on the present terms it will effectively dismantle the sanctions against Iran and the international legal regime that recognizes the Iranian regime as an outlaw, will leave Iran on the threshold of nuclear weapons, and will provide legitimacy for, and billions of dollars toward, Iranian hegemony in the Middle East.
Published at Baghdad Invest
Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri, Saddam Hussein’s long-time deputy, was reported dead (again) on April 17. An audio message on May 15 disproved this. Douri was the implementer of the Saddam regime’s Islamization program in its later years and a key architect of the insurgency after the regime was overthrown, which helped pave the way for the Islamic State (ISIS). ISIS has now turned on Douri and his associates, but ISIS could not have risen to its current stature without Douri’s help. Continue reading
The British government is considering beginning airstrikes into Syria against the Islamic State (ISIS). London is currently engaged in airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and has troops in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq training and advising the Peshmerga.
Since ISIS’ territory in Syria is its “most valuable and sustainable,” the case for ignoring a border that ISIS has erased would seem to be a good one.
But no less a figure than the Conservative chair of the defence select committee, Julian Lewis, thinks otherwise:
In 2010 the government wanted to remove Assad without helping al-Qaeda or similar groups that subsequently became Daesh. Now we apparently want to remove Daesh but without helping Assad. These two things are incompatible. It is a choice of evils.
The view that Syria is divided between the Assad dictatorship and ISIS has become commonplace. It is mistaken. Continue reading
On June 23, 2015, the Islamic State (IS) spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani gave a speech, “O Our People, Respond to the Caller of Allah”. Al-Adnani, noting the coming of Ramadan, called on Muslims to journey to the caliphate, saying that hijra (emigration) in this month—and martyrdom—is the most blessed. Al-Adnani called on Muslims—specifically Iraqi Sunnis and Syrian rebel and Islamist insurgent groups—to unite around IS, which had no theological factions or ethnic distinctions among its membership, being the only pure expression of Islam, ruling by god’s law. Iraqi Sunni militias and Syrian rebels had betrayed the religion by seeking favour from, and even seeking alliance with, Western states. Al-Adnani threatened the town of Haditha, specifically the Jaghayfa clan, that if it surrendered now its repentance would be accepted, but if the town was overrun first then they would be slaughtered. Al-Adnani played heavily on the interlinked themes of anti-Shi’a sectarianism and the spreading influence of Iran and its proxies, repressing Sunnis. The old guard of the jihadi movement—clerics like Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri (though neither are mentioned by name)—are attacked for not being on the battlefields. Al-Adnani also accepted the allegiance of the Russian-based faction that declared itself under the caliph’s authority, naming the group Wilayat al-Kavkaz. An English transcript of the speech was posted by IS and is reproduced below with some minor editions in transliteration and some interesting sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading