Tag Archives: National Defense Forces

Assad and Russia Losing Palmyra is No Surprise: They Cannot Defeat Jihadism in Syria

Published at The International Business Times

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on December 12, 2016

Syrian regime army soldiers stands on the ruins of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, 1 April 2016 (REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki)

The Islamic State (IS) is supposed to be on its way to defeat. IS is under assault in Mosul and the operation to evict it from Raqqa began a month ago. Just this morning, Turkish-backed rebel forces in Syria have reportedly pierced IS’s defences in al-Bab, IS’s most important city outside of its twin capitals. But on Sunday, after a four-day offensive, IS seized Palmyra. How to explain this? Continue reading

Turkey and Saudi Arabia Move Against Assad

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 5, 2015

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Zahran Alloush, Abu Issa, Hashem al-Sheikh

An effort is underway, led by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, mediated by Qatar, to unify the largest Syrian Islamist rebel brigades. With these regional powers now seemingly reading from the same script after years of internecine competition that has fractured the Syrian rebellion, there is also talk of a direct Saudi-Turkish intervention in Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. While increased support to the Syrian insurgency from the Gulf and Turkey is already arriving, a direct intervention seems unlikely, though not, in the current context after the Saudi-led coalition went it alone in Yemen, impossible.  Continue reading

America’s Silent Partnership With Iran And The Contest For Middle Eastern Order: Part Four

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

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This is the fourth of a four-part series looking at the United States’ increasingly-evident de facto alliance with Iran in the region. The first part looked at the way this policy has developed since President Obama took office and how it has been applied in Iraq; the second part looked at the policy’s application in Syria; the third part looked at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and this part is a conclusion. Continue reading

America’s Silent Partnership With Iran And The Contest For Middle Eastern Order: Part Three

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 3, 2014

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This is the third 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. The second part looked at the policy’s application in Syria; this part will look at its application in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Yemen; and part four will be a conclusion. Continue reading

America’s Silent Partnership With Iran And The Contest For Middle Eastern Order: Part Two

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 29, 2015

Assad meeting with the boss

Assad meeting with the boss

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

A Freeze In Aleppo Won’t Help Save Syria—But It Might Help Assad

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on December 15, 2014

Great Mosque in Aleppo

 

On October 30, the United Nations peace envoy Staffan de Mistura presented an “action plan” for Syria, which included a plan for a “freeze zone” in Aleppo to give “an opportunity for some type of humanitarian improvement”. De Mistura wanted this to re-focus efforts of fighting units on all sides against the Salafi-jihadists of the Islamic State and Jabhat an-Nusra (al-Qaeda). Small wonder then that Assad’s U.N. envoy, Bashar Jafaari, said the regime was giving the proposal “due consideration”.

This freeze idea had emerged just after the Obama administration had, through surrogates, said it was sympathetic to the idea of trying to use local “ceasefires” Continue reading

The Nuclear Negotiations Are Only Part Of Iran’s Regional Ambitions—And Obama’s

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 27, 2014

Ali Khamenei

Ali Khamenei

When the next—and supposedly final—round of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program end next month, there are three possible outcomes:

  1. The “interim” deal, the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), will be rolled over for another six months after it was rolled over in July, and will, like so much else in the Middle East billed as temporary, begin to look permanent.
  2. A final deal is signed that is an Iranian victory in all-but name, putting them on the threshold of a nuclear weapon with only the regime’s goodwill stopping them crossing the finishing line to a bomb.
  3. Iran’s dictator, Ali Khamenei, refuses President Obama both of the above fig leaves and breaks off negotiations.

How did we get here? Continue reading

Will The Alawis Break With Assad?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 12, 2014

A grisly brood: The Assad family

A grisly brood: The Assad family

Last Thursday, in Akrama, an Alawi section of Homs City, there was the most extraordinary scene: Alawite anti-Assad protests. A twin bombing at a local school—reported as a suicide bombing by the regime, though there is no evidence for this—had massacred fifty Alawi civilians, most of them pupils. Annexing the slogans of the revolution, the Alawis took to the streets to demand the removal of Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi. “The people want to topple the governor,” people shouted, a conscious echo of the “Arab Spring” chant, a-shab yurid izkat an-nizam (the people want to topple the regime). Continue reading

The Sahel Front

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 28, 2014

A map of the Five Fronts command, an early effort at rebel unification that split the country into five strategic zones. The Sahel or Coast Front is also called the Central Front

A map of the Five Fronts command, an early effort at rebel unification that split the country into five strategic zones. The Sahel or Coast Front is also called the Central Front

On March 21, a major offensive began by anti-regime forces in the north of Latakia, an area where the regime has long been unable to re-fasten its rule. Continue reading

The Assad Regime’s Collusion With ISIS and al-Qaeda: Assessing The Evidence

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 24, 2014

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There has long been speculation in Syrian oppositionist circles that the regime was colluding with the Qaeda-type forces in the insurgency, to shore-up its own base by frightening the minorities and to ward off external help to the rebellion from the West. Continue reading