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 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
The 129th issue of Al-Naba, the Islamic State’s newsletter, contained an article on page 3 that made takfir (excommunication) against Tandheem Hurras al-Deen (The Organization for the Guardians of the Religion or the Religious Guardians’ Organization), al-Qaeda’s new, if unofficial, branch in Syria. A rough translation of the article is reproduced below. Continue reading
Taha Subhi Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) was killed near al-Bab in northern Syria on 30 August in an airstrike by the U.S.-led Coalition. One of Falaha’s roles was the Islamic State’s official spokesman. On 5 December, IS announced that it has a new spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, and he gave an inaugural speech. That speech, entitled, “You Will Remember What I Have Told You,” was printed in the fourth issue of Rumiyah on 7 December. Rumiyah seems to have replaced the English-language Dabiq magazine—probably because the village of Dabiq has been lost. The speech is reproduced below with some editions for spelling, some additions for explanation, and some especially notable sections highlighted in bold.
Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, gave a speech on August 25, 2016, entitled, “Fear Allah in the Matter of Iraq” (or “Fear Allah in Iraq”). Released by al-Qaeda’s As-Sahab Media Foundation, the speech is the third installment of the “Brief Messages To A Victorious Nation” (or “Brief Messages To A Victorious Umma”) series. A translation of the speech was released by Al-Muwahideen Media, a pro-Qaeda channel, last month and is reproduced below with some editions in transliteration and important sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading
Taha Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) is the governor Islamic State-held territory in Syria and oversees the foreign attacks, a roster of duties which indicates that Falaha so powerful that he is effectively the caliph’s deputy after the demise of Abd al-Rahman al-Qaduli (Abu Ali al-Anbari) in March. Falaha is also IS’s official spokesman, and on 21 May 2016 he gave a very significant speech entitled, “That They Live By Proof”. The speech, released by Al-Hayat Media Centre, is reproduced below with some minor alterations in transliteration, some important sections highlighted in bold, and some notes added for explanation.
Falaha made three major points. First, Falaha was especially adamant that territorial control by IS should not be considered a measure of IS’s success: it lost all urban holdings and went into the deserts last time, after the strategic defeat in 2008, but it held to its cause and America withdrew, and this ideological cohesiveness and determination led it to be more powerful than ever within five years. Second, Falaha made use of the savage conduct of the coalition made up of the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia—and the Western indifference to same—to argue for Sunnis to see IS as a protective barrier against such sectarian foes. And, third, Falaha called for foreign attacks by Western Muslims, saying that if IS’s loyalists were unable to journey to IS-held areas this should not be considered a problem since attacks in the West are “more beloved to [IS] than the biggest act done [within the caliphate]”. Continue reading
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