Since the offensive against Mosul, the Iraqi capital of the Islamic State (IS), began five months ago, IS has expended a high number of lives quite deliberately in suicide attacks. One of the suicide-attacks conducted on 20 February 2017, a car bombing against an Iraqi base, was by Abu Zakariya al-Britani, a British citizen now identified as Ronald Fiddler from Manchester. In 2002, Fiddler, then calling himself Jamal Udeen al-Harith, was sent to Guantanamo Bay, before being released in 2004 while still protesting his innocence. After suing the British government over his imprisonment, Fiddler received a substantial cash settlement in order to avoid compromising state secrets. Fiddler’s demise invites some revisiting of widely-held assumptions surrounding Guantanamo. Continue reading
This is the second of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. This first part looked at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq. This part will look at the policy’s application in Syria; part three will look at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and part four will be a conclusion. Continue reading
This is the first of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. This first part looks at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq. Part two will look at the policy’s application in Syria; part three will look at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and part four will be a conclusion. Continue reading
On August 25, Bashar al-Assad’s Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem, said: “Syria is ready for co-operation … to fight terrorism.” The week before Assad’s PR guru, Bouthaina Shaaban, told CNN that an “international coalition,” including Russia, China, America, and Europe, should intervene to defeat the “terrorists,” whom she says make up the rebellion in Syria.
Back in March I wrote a long post laying out the evidence that the Assad regime was deliberately empowering then-ISIS, now the Islamic State (IS), helping it destroy moderate rebels and even Salafist and Salafi-jihadist forces, with the intention of making-good on its propaganda line that the only opposition to the regime came from takfiris, which would frighten the population into taking shelter behind the State, seeing this madness as the only alternative, and would at the very least keep the West from intervening to support the uprising and might even draw the West in to help defeat the insurgency. These statements represent the culmination of that strategy. Continue reading
As we approach the forty month mark for the Syrian uprising the situation is grimmer than it has ever been. Not just the casualties: more than 200,000 people dead. Not just the physical devastation and mass-displacement of more than a third of the country. But now in military terms the rebellion is on the defensive in a way it has not been since it erupted at the end of 2011, after more than six months of peaceful protests.
We might all hope to be vindicated so quickly. I wrote yesterday morning of the way the Iraqi government’s sectarianism and authoritarianism had created the space among Iraqi Sunni Arabs in which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could operate, and that I saw no way out of this, so one should expect escalating violence, chaos, and killing. By midday, Mosul, Iraq’s third city after Baghdad and Basra, had fallen to ISIS. Continue reading