Tag Archives: al-Qaeda

Turkey’s Syria Policy and the Elections

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 7 June 2018

Turkish soldiers and their rebel dependencies in Efrin, 18 March 2018 // AFP

On June 24, for the first time in 15 years, there seems a possibility, however faint, that elections in Turkey will end in defeat for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

It is an uphill battle, not least because of the ongoing state of emergency after the 2016 attempted coup, which has exacerbated the systemic biases against Erdoğan’s political opponents. But the Turkish opposition has managed to overcome its own fractiousness and has a strategic game-plan that makes sense. One card Erdoğan still has to play is foreign policy, and there are signs in Syria and Iraq of advantageous news to come. Continue reading

The Use of Sieges and Deportations in Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 2 June 2018

The green buses that have become a symbol of the Syrian regime’s siege and deportation policy (picture source)

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2011, released a report on 29 May 2018, “Sieges as a Weapon of War: Encircle, Starve, Surrender, Evacuate”. The report examined the effects of the sieges and “evacuation agreements”—deportations—between November 2012 and April 2018.

The Commission notes that the report is based on “over 400 interviews”, though the Commission continues to struggle in gathering information because it is banned from Syria by Bashar al-Asad’s regime and because of the threat the regime poses to potential interviewees. Continue reading

Al-Qaeda’s Leader Denounces Israel and the International System

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 13 May 2018

Ayman al-Zawahiri (AFP)

Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a speech today, the ninth edition of his “Brief Messages To A Victorious Ummah”. A transcript of the speech, entitled “Tel Aviv Is Also the Land of Muslims”, evidently timed for the movement of the U.S. Embassy in Israel tomorrow, was released by al-Qaeda’s As-Sahab Media enterprise and is reproduced below. Continue reading

Assad vs. ISIS in Southern Damascus is the Culmination of the Regime’s Strategy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 4 May 2018

Devastation in Yarmuk refugee camp for Palestinians in Syria, 28 April 2018 (image credit: Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)

The 130th edition of Al-Naba, the Islamic State’s (IS) newsletter, was published on 4 May 2018. The main story on the first page was, “For the Second Week, Soldiers of the Caliphate in Southern Damascus Inflict Heavy Losses on the Nusayri Army”, and this continued on page 4.

Nusayri refers to the Alawi sect from which Syrian ruler Bashar al-Asad hails and is part of IS’s sectarian framing of its war. The story covers the fighting between the pro-Asad forces[1] and IS in the southern areas of the Syrian capital around al-Qadam, al-Hajar al-Aswad, Tadamun, and the Yarmuk Camp for Palestinian refugees.

For the Asad regime, this battle is the culmination of its consistent strategy, which it has on several occasions spelled out, to eliminate all opposition that is acceptable to local populations and the international community so that it can draw on their support, passive and active, in its war against the insurgency. Continue reading

Who is Trying to Destabilise Rojava?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 1 May 2018

Logo of Harakat al-Qiyam from its first video, 15 October 2017

A campaign is underway to destabilise the “Rojava” area of north-eastern Syria, ruled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a composite force wholly dominated by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an internally-designated terrorist organisation whose operatives use the banner of the People’s Protection Forces (YPG) in Syria. The SDF/PKK captured a lot of Arab-majority areas as a side-effect of the American-led war against the Islamic State (IS), which deputised the SDF as its ground force in Syria. It was always clear that these inhabitants did not wish to be ruled by an authoritarian Kurdish nationalist party with Marxist inflections and a cult around its leader, Abdullah Ocalan. There was, however, a chance that the goodwill of that comes with liberation could be converted, with the right adjustments, the SDF model could become a durable settlement. It appears the trendline is now running the other way, toward a disintegration of this structure. Continue reading

Al-Qaeda Denounces Saudi Arabia for its Closeness to America

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 31 March 2018

Hamza bin Ladin, son of Usama and one of al-Qaeda’s rising media stars, released an audio speech on 31 March, labelled as the sixth edition of his “Sovereignty of the Best of Nations Is In the Uprising of the People of the Haram” series. Oddly, the last speech in the series, released on 18 January, was labelled as the fourth instalment. This speech also focused on delegitimising the Saudi government, in this case by laying out the history of its close relations with the United States and the work the Saudis have done to suppress jihadism. An English-language transcript was released by al-Qaeda’s As-Sahab Media and is reproduced below with some editions in transliteration. Continue reading

Insurgents Respond to America Declaring Syrian Taliban Unit A Terrorist Group

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 25 March 2018

Katibat al-Imam al-Bukhari (image source)

The United States Department of State designated Katibat al-Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), the Taliban-loyal insurgent unit in Syria, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) on 22 March. Over the last few days, KIB and other insurgent groups have issued statements in response. Continue reading