Monthly Archives: September 2015

Did Saddam Hussein Become A Religious Believer?

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

Saddam Hussein prays at a mosque in Samarra, March 12, 1998 (AP Photo)

Saddam Hussein prays at a mosque in Samarra, March 12, 1998 (AP Photo)

It should be stated up front that the question posed in the headline is, strictly speaking, unanswerable: only Saddam Hussein could ever answer that question, and even then any out-loud answer given by Saddam could be untrue in any number of directions, for any number of reasons. Still, from the available evidence it does seem Saddam had some kind of “born-again” experience.

Of crucial importance, however, is that while Saddam’s actual beliefs had a significant impact in providing some of the colour and shape to the Faith Campaign, even if one believes Saddam remained a secularist and Islamized his regime as a wholly cynical means of shoring-up support, this is completely irrelevant to the effect this Islamization had. Saddam put in place a governmental administration that created a religious movement, which brought men to a faith they otherwise would not have had, and in combination with the increased sectarianism fostered by Saddam’s regime, this prepared the ground for al-Qaeda and its offshoots like the Islamic State (ISIS) in the aftermath of the regime. Continue reading

Britain’s New Syria Policy Concedes to Iran and Russia—and Keeps Assad in Power

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 11, 2015

Published at Left Foot Forward

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On 9 September the British government announced a new plan for dealing with Syria and the Islamic State (ISIS):

  1. Airstrikes when necessary into Syria to destroy the leadership of ISIS;
  1. Buttressing the Iraqi government in its fight with ISIS;
  1. Dropping the demand that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad step aside immediately and instead allowing Assad to lead a transition, in order that Russia and Iran will agree to Assad going at all.

All three parts of this plan push in a pro-Iran direction, and strengthen Assad. Continue reading

An Interview With the Islamic State’s Leader in Libya

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 10, 2015

In the eleventh edition of the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, Dabiq, released on 9 September 2015, there was an interview with the leader of their forces in Libya, Abul-Mughirah al-Qahtani,[1] about the situation for the Islamic State in that country. The interview is reproduced below with some editions to transliteration, some notes added for clarification, and some interesting sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading

How Russia Manipulates Islamic Terrorism

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

Shamil Basayev and Murad Margoshvili (a.k.a. Muslem al-Shishani)

Shamil Basayev and Murad Margoshvili (a.k.a. Muslem a-Shishani)

Last year I wrote about the murky role Russia was playing in the Syrian war, bolstering the Assad tyranny while facilitating the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other Salafi-jihadists as a means of dividing and discrediting the Syrian opposition. Moscow’s action were in line with the strategy it had used to defeat the separatist movement in Chechnya, infiltrating the insurgency, driving it into extremism, and facilitating the arrival of al-Qaeda jihadists who displaced the Chechen nationalists. In Syria, Russia’s actions accord with the strategy adopted by the regime and its Iranian masters to present Assad as the last line of defence against a terrorist takeover of Syria and a genocide against the minorities. New evidence has emerged to underline these points. Continue reading

Intra-Jihadi Competition, Iran, and Western Staying Power in Afghanistan

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 1, 2015

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The Taliban on August 31 finally confessed all: its leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, had been dead since April 23, 2013. The Taliban admitted that Mullah Omar had passed from this veil of tears on July 30 but was distinctly vague on when. Omar’s death was kept secret because of “jihadi considerations,” namely the “testing” time the mujahideen were having with the “foreign invaders,” the Taliban says. While the Taliban places the emphasis on its struggle with NATO, the reality is that NATO is drawing down and the Taliban’s burgeoning foe is the Islamic State (I.S.). The Taliban is tied to al-Qaeda’s faltering brand, and conditions are militating to help I.S., not al-Qaeda, in “Khorasan”. Continue reading