Monthly Archives: November 2017

Qatar and the Gulf Crisis

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 30 November 2017

I released a report today, published by the Henry Jackson Society, Qatar and the Gulf Crisis. The intent was to examine the charges made against the Qatari government by its Gulf neighbours with regard to the funding of terrorism, the hosting of extremists, the dissemination of hate speech and incitement, among other things. Having separated fact from fiction with regards to he accusations against Qatar, the report proposes how Britain might proceed in such a way as to press Doha on issues of concern, while avoiding being drawn into the middle of the Gulf dispute, and trying to foster reconciliation between allies, especially at a time when a united front is necessary to oppose the far larger challenge of the Iranian theocracy.  Continue reading

Former Al-Qaeda in Syria Branch Arrests Members of Al-Qaeda in Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 28 November 2017

Iyad al-Tubaysi (Abu Julaybib), Sami al-Uraydi (Abu Mahmud al-Shami)

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a powerful jihadi group in northern Syria, formally broke from al-Qaeda’s command over the last year. In the morning of 27 November, HTS arrested the leaders of a splinter group from HTS that remained loyal to al-Qaeda. The arrests were first reported by pro-al-Qaeda media, and HTS has since released a statement explaining that, having found this al-Qaeda group unwilling to even engage in reconciliation talks, it placed “the heads of turmoil” before a “just shari’a court” to answer for spreading demoralizing lies about HTS. Continue reading

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Statement on Arresting Al-Qaeda Loyalists in Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 28 November 2017

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the jihadist group in Syria that has broken away from al-Qaeda’s formal command, appears to have arrested the leaders of its splinter group that retained allegiance to al-Qaeda on 27 November. The arrests were first reported by pro-Qaeda media and later by HTS itself. HTS released a statement on the matter yesterday evening, “For the judicial authorities will be the decisive word,” which was translated by Al-Maqalaat and is reproduced below with some syntactical edits. Continue reading

Syria’s Opposition Delegation Diluted At Conference in Saudi Arabia

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 27 November 2017

In Saudi Arabia on 24 November 2017, the so-called “Riyadh Two” Conference for the Syrian opposition concluded by selecting a delegation that further eroded the meaning of “opposition”, while retaining the formality of being an opposition by issuing a statement that insisted on the departure of Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Asad. Continue reading

America Reveals How Iran Funds Instability in Yemen

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 23 November 2017

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the U.S. Department of Treasury, on 20 November, sanctioned “a network of individuals and entities involved in a large-scale scheme to help Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) counterfeit currency to support its destabilizing activities” in Yemen. Continue reading

Iran Claims to “Defeat” the Islamic State in Syria, a “Dangerous Conspiracy” by America and Israel

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 22 November 2017

Qassem Sulaymani, Hassan Nasrallah, Ali Khamene’i (c. 2000)

The leader of the Quds Force, the expeditionary unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Qassem Sulaymani, sent a public letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamene’i, on 21 November. Sulaymani’s letter followed the apparent expulsion of the Islamic State from its last urban stronghold in Syria, al-Bukamal, on 19 November, by Quds Force-led troops—foreign Shi’a jihadists and the battered remnants of Bashar al-Asad’s army. Sulaymani informs Khamene’i that in overcoming the Islamic State and its caliphate, a “U.S.-Zionist-made” terrorist entity has been defeated. Sulaymani’s letter is reproduced below, with some noteworthy sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading

Al-Qaeda Instructs the Islamic State’s Predecessor Not to Attack Iran

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 21 November 2017

Usama bin Ladin, Qassem Sulaymani

Among the documents recovered from Usama bin Ladin’s compound in Abbottabad was the “Letter to Karim”, dated 18 October 2007. The letter was released in 2015 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). “Karim” likely refers to Abdul Munim al-Badawi (Abu Hamza al-Muhajir), the leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM), the predecessor organization to the Islamic State, after the group’s founder, Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), was killed in June 2006. The letter is reproduced below with some interesting details highlighted in bold. Continue reading

Defining Freedom Fighters and Terrorists in Syria (and Beyond)

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 21 November 2017

Zozan Temir (Zozan Cudi) in ‘No Free Steps to Heaven’

Yesterday, it was announced that a 15 November Turkish government airstrike in the mountains of the Sirnak area in southeastern Turkey, near the zone where the borders of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq meet, had killed twelve guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Given that the PKK has waged war against Turkey since 1984, and the state has obviously fought back, such events are distressingly mundane. But this event was exceptional because among the slain was a female foreign fighter, Zozan Temir. Continue reading

Iran Escalates its Subversive Activities in Bahrain

Post originally appeared at The Henry Jackson Society

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 19 November 2017

Fire at the oil pipeline in Buri village, south of Manama, Bahrain, 10 Nov. 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Just over a week ago, the major oil pipeline in Bahrain was bombed by operatives the government says were working for the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in an escalating series of terrorist attacks inside Bahrain. Throughout the year, Manama has also been rolling up terrorist cells that have links to Iran’s intelligence services and Bahraini citizens now in Iran that form part of Tehran’s regional terrorist network. The breakdown in Gulf unity is especially worrying in the face of this intensified Iranian aggression and subversion in Bahrain. Continue reading

A Defection and the Dictatorship in Syrian Kurdistan

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 17 November 2017

Talal Silo

It was announced on 15 November that Talal Ali Silo, the official spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), had fled to the EUPHRATES SHIELD zone in northern Aleppo, run by rebels operating under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) brand that are dependent on Turkey. The SDF is the partner force in Syria for the U.S.-led Coalition against the Islamic State (IS). Though the SDF presents itself as a multi-ethnic coalition of Kurds and Arabs, it was initiated as a front for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). By attaching non-Kurdish units to a PKK core and using the SDF banner, it circumvented various legal and political obstacles for Coalition states. But all real power has remained in the hands of the PKK, which has systematically purged all genuinely independent power centres within the SDF. Silo, a Turkoman, helped further the narrative of the SDF’s ethnic inclusivity, and his defection underlines the reality of the organization’s political exclusivity. Continue reading