Tag Archives: Yazidis

The Coalition Removes Senior Islamic State Leaders, Military Officials, and External Terror Operatives

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 November 2017

The United States Department of Defence announced on 14 November that four more important operatives of the Islamic State (IS) had been killed in targeted airstrikes by the U.S.-led anti-IS Coalition. “The removal of these key terrorists disrupts ISIS’ weapons engineering activities and their ability to recruit and train terrorists,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “It also reduces their ability to plan and conduct terrorist attacks, both within Syria and Iraq and abroad.” Continue reading

Iraqi Kurdistan’s Independence Referendum and the West’s Middle East Strategy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 27 September 2017

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a referendum on 25 September, and voted overwhelmingly—with nearly 93% in favour—for independence. The comparison with Brexit might have been overworked by all sides, but there was a familiarity: while the result itself was not a shock, the fact of the referendum itself came as a surprise to many in what one might call the global elite, which lectured in that endearing way that had such success in deterring Brits a year ago. Then as now, the effect was, if anything, to stoke the bloody-mindedness of a population that had considerable qualms but had enough pride to repudiate being harangued in those accents. Still, as with Brexit, it wasn’t as if the naysayers didn’t have a case, and now comes the really difficult work. Continue reading

Coalition Risks Replacing the Islamic State With the Islamic Republic

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 14 September 2017

By recent reports, one could easily come away with the impression that war and instability across the Fertile Crescent are winding down. Predictions about what comes next, always a risky enterprise in the Middle East, are at a point of unique vulnerability. Chaos and violence for some considerable time to come look like a safe bet, though the timing and scale look more uncertain. Nonetheless, certain trendlines are visible, most clearly the emergence of a regional order, abetted by the international coalition’s campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), dominated by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Continue reading

Senior Islamic State Cleric Turki al-Binali Killed in an Airstrike

Originally published at The Henry Jackson Society

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 11 June 2017

Turki al-Binali at prayers in Raqqa, July 2015

It was reported on jihadist websites and by local activists that Turki al-Binali, a senior cleric of the Islamic State (IS) and perhaps the most important public proponent of the caliphate’s formation, had been killed in Syria by an airstrike from the U.S.-led Coalition on 29 May. IS has been silent on this despite releasing their newsletter al-Naba and the tenth edition of their English-language propaganda magazine Rumiyah since then. On Tuesday, the intelligence services of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq confirmed that al-Binali had been killed. Continue reading

Testimony of an American Fighter with the Syrian Kurds

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 18, 2017

American YPG volunteer, “Brennan”

In November 2016, an American, named only as “Brennan,” who had fought alongside the Kurdish militia in Syria, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), spoke to “Kraut and Tea,” a German atheist YouTuber. Brennan provided some interesting details on the governance methods, ideology, and capabilities of the YPG. Continue reading

Why Solely Backing the PYD Against the Islamic State is a Mistake

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 20, 2015

Published at NOW Lebanon.

1

The Pentagon-run train-and-equip (T&E) program had intended to take Syrian rebels, stop them from being rebels by preventing them from fighting the Assad regime, and repurpose them into an American-directed strike force against the Islamic State (ISIS). Unsurprisingly, there were few takers and the program ended in disaster and humiliation. In the wake of this failure, President Barack Obama has turned away from the Arab rebels and looked to the Syrian Kurds to fight ISIS. This is a strategy that is not only doomed to fail—since Sunni Arabs taking responsibility for their local security is the only way to sustainably defeat ISIS—but would, if implemented, make the ISIS problem worse. A report from Amnesty International this week documenting crimes, including ethnic cleansing, by the armed Kurdish forces against Arabs and Turkmens in northern Syria also provides an occasion to look more closely at a force with a history of regime collaboration, political extremism, and terrorism. Continue reading

The Horrors for Women of Islamic State Rule

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 12, 2015

Published at Verily 

1

I have always been interested in the Middle East, specifically the Syrian conflict. In early summer 2014, as part of my master’s dissertation, I went to Lebanon to work with the United Nations. I was still there when the Islamic State group, commonly known as ISIS, struck Iraq.  Continue reading