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ANALYSIS: The threat of sleeper cells continues after ISIS territorial defeat in Syria

March 22, 2019

With the liberation of last ISIS pocket in Baghouz in the Deir Ezzor province of Syria, the threat of sleeper cells of the Islamic state continues especially in Arab majority areas recently liberated from the Islamic state. Local officials therefore ask for continued coalition support to prevent the resurgence of ISIS.

The sleeper cell threat by ISIS and the use of assassins by regional states could also threaten coalition troops after the territorial defeat of ISIS in Baghouz which is expected to be soon.


What next for Syria? Interview with former Ambassador Robert S. Ford

August 06, 2018

In an interview former US Ambassador to Syria Robert S. Ford discusses what might come next in the country and the dilemmas faced by Washington. What is Moscow's agenda and how will Damascus handle Iranian influence. Will the US stay? 

Inside Iraq's Operation Revenge of the Martyrs

August 04, 2018


An exclusive interview with the ERD commander who is helping hunt down ISIS in central Iraq. After an uptick in attacks in the first half of 2018 Iraq launched a large operation to defeat ISIS remnants. Here is a look at the progress of the operation and threats that Iraq faces. 

Shammar tribe in Iraq confronts ISIS attempts at new insurgency

July 14, 2018

What follows is an exclusive interview with Ali Nawfil Al-Hasan a leader of the Shammar tribe, from its Al-Aslam section of the tribe, and President of the Council of Dour district. The Al-Aslam tribe is one of the biggest of the Shammar sub-tribes. The interview was conducted in Arabic, translated by Kareem Botane and then edited for clarity by Seth J. Frantzman.

Can you describe the aftermath of the kidnapping and the situation the Shammar face?


I will now talk about not only the Shammar tribes but also the current situation in the eastern area of the Saladin Governorate (صلاح الدين). It is extremely bad. The security situation is very bad, in these areas ISIS is coming and going as they want freely. They move about as they wish. The areas they are based in is the Dour district all the way to the Hamrin Mountains to Ein Al-Hasan (عين الحسن), Slabkha, Al-Mamlaha (مملحة), Mutayibija (مطيبيجة), Wadi al-Azim (وادي عظيم), Wadi Al-Dour and in Hamrin mountains themselves. In addition the areas east of Samarra and in eastern Saladin Governorate as well as Jalam al-Dour (جلةم الدور).

Read the rest at this link

Iran protests: What is behind Rouhani threat regarding the Straits of Hormuz

July 14, 2018


The current protests in Iran are primarily socio-economic in nature and target President Rouhani’s government for its failure to deliver on promises for economic improvement. Conservative and hardline media are depicting the protests as legitimate, and emphasising their anti-Rouhani nature.   


The recent protest that erupted on 8 July were sparked by shortage of drinking water, particularly in such cities as Abadan and Khorramshahr.  In Khorramshahr clashes with police were particularly intense and hundreds of people were arrested.


Khorramshahr is situated in the Arab-populated province of Khuzestan, which means that most of its inhabitants are ethnic Arabs. The Arab population of Iran feels marginalized and discriminated against. On the other hand it is noteworthy that the Arabs of Khuzestan are Shiites and proud Iranians, Iran being a successful multi ethnic nation state. 

Iraq's Sinjar region remains in crises

June 09, 2018

On June 1 a convoy of US military armoured vehicles passed through the Sinjar region in northern Iraq. The sight of the vehicles briefly instilled hope in the Yezidis there that the United States was establishing a military presence in the region that would guarantee their security. A Yezidi official in the region even claimed that the US would build a base there.

The Internal Structure of the Islamic State’s Hisba Apparatus

June 01, 2018


The Islamic State’s administrative organization of Hisba has been far more complex than that of its predecessors. The Hisba department was one of a series of diwans (ministries/departments) of the Islamic State established after the announcement of the Caliphate. This does not mean of course that no concepts of Hisba existed in areas of Islamic State control prior to the Caliphate declaration: imposition of dress codes on women and the existence of a women’s Hisba team, for example, were already on the ground in Raqqa city in the first half of 2014 prior to the Caliphate declaration.

The Hisba is sometimes thought of as the Islamic State’s ‘Islamic police,’ but documentary evidence from the Islamic State shows that this association is not correct. The Islamic police actually answers to the judiciary department of the Islamic State: the Diwan al-Qada wa al-Madhalim. Of course, the Hisba works with the Diwan al-Qada wa al-Madhalim in relevant cases for referral to the judiciary, but that does not make it the Islamic police.

Reconciliation in Syria: The case of Beit Jann

May 22, 2018



The Syrian government has now cleared Damascus and Damascus countryside of insurgents and the Islamic State. Therefore the government’s control of the country’s most important center of power can no longer be challenged by its rivals. Many areas in Damascus and its countryside have been brought back under government control through “reconciliation” agreements. One may be inclined to turn one’s attention away from these areas since there are no longer reports of battles and airstrikes coming from them that make for “interesting” news and updates.

A visit to Saudi Arabia

May 21, 2018

Daniel Rasmussen recently took a trip to Saudi Arabia. He speaks about Vision 2030 in an interview. "I recently took a trip to Saudi Arabia after receiving a generous business visa, which required an sponsor letter from a local firm, and the official ministries. It was an eyeopening experience to see first hand whether the Kingdom is changing and reforming and to get a sense of local conditions and concerns."

Fractures in the alliances of post-ISIS Syria

May 20, 2018


With the Islamic State having ceded control of the South Damascus suburbs of Al-Hajar Al-Aswad and Yarmouk to the Syrian Regime its once vast Caliphate has been reduced to a few pockets of land in the outskirts of Hassaka, Hajin in Der Ez Zor, the Syrian desert and the Yarmouk Basin in the western outskirts of Daraa

Lebanese elections: A balancing act

May 14, 2018



With Hezbollah further consolidating its position as the most powerful entity in Lebanon following its gains in the parliamentary elections. it will seek to further integrate the state’s institutions into its resistance project while at the same time seeking to maintain the fiction that Lebanon is an independent sovereign state not under the control of an Iranian proxy militia.

Kirkuk: A tale of many cities

May 03, 2018

On April 24, ISIS claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in an Arab neighborhood of Kirkuk that took place earlier in the month. The blast, which failed to kill a Turkmen Front candidate in the upcoming Iraqi elections, was one of many examples of ISIS activity this year in and near Kirkuk: Iraq’s most disputed city. After years of stability under Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) rule following the defeat of ISIS at the hands of the Kurdish peshmerga in 2014, Kirkuk has seen renewed violence since Iraqi forces swiftly retook the area in October 2017.

Elections and reforms: Kirkuk in 2018

April 22, 2018

By Dana Zangna

A trip to Kirkuk in April 2018 shows the struggles the city faces before the May elections and in the wake of Baghdad asserting federal control in October 2017. Driving from Chamchamal there is no Iraqi military presence as one passes the last Kurdish checkpoint. In early April 2018 the first Iraqi checkpoint, setup after Iraq occupied Kirkuk in mid-October 2017, is about a ten-minute drive from Chamchamal. The first Iraq checkpoint is run by soldiers of the ISOF (Iraqi Special Operations Forces), dressed in black with their trademark eagle badges.

On Syria’s Shattered Sovereignty

April 17, 2018

By Sirwan Kajjo

While it is not the first attack on Syria by foreign nations during the country’s seven-year civil war, this one has particularly angered Assad’s local supporters. Their outrage was visible during Saturday protests as well as on social media. In addition to Syrian regime flag, the protesters waved Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah flags. Some flags of al-Amal Movement, another pro-regime Shiite Lebanese group, and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a group that advocates for greater Syria, were also raised by the angry protestors.

Russia’s calculations ahead of US threats to strike Syria

April 10, 2018

What about Russia’s reaction?


Russia’s declarations are completely in line with sabre-rattling, because the more you promise that “we will sink an American ship” or something of the kind, you oblige yourself to act. In principle as some liberal Russian journalists wrote , they will try to shoot down American cruise missiles, not planes, but missiles. There is another problem here and it is that they always boast about their new weapons. At least  half of that is nonsense. The best way both to “save the face” and prevent a collision with the US would be that they shoot down  Tomahawks and US won’t react to that, but if these boasts don’t work then in principle it will be embarrassing for the prestige of Russian weaponry, and potentially for sells of Russian weapons. They are trying to achieve a new status for Russia, hoping they will overcome a new Cuba 1962 style crisis.

Mosul after ISIS: Photo essay of an Armenian church

May 30, 2018

Photographer Ali Y. Al-Baroodi gives a tour inside an Armenian church in Mosul after liberation from ISIS. Almost a year later the church still has writing on it from its period under ISIS control, and inside a list of food rations for ISIS members was found. The church was the headquarters of the "morality police" and also collected satellite dishes, which ISIS deemed illegal, from locals. Follow the link for a photo essay and video. 

The Future Syria Party: Raqqa, the US and trasnitional politics

April 10, 2018

Last week, representatives of different communities in northern Syria and other parts of the country attended a meeting to launch a new politicl party in the Syrian city of Raqqa. The formation of the Future Syria Party comes amid uncertainty over the future of the former de facto capital of Islamic State (ISIS) militants and other areas liberated from the terror group. It has also brought some controversy among Kurds and Arabs in the war-torn country.

From Syria to Skripal's poisoning: Russia's 'Mafia style' tactics

March 28, 2018

By Alex Grinberg 

A number of Russian mercenaries were killed in a battle in Syria in early February. The precise number of those killed, and the objective of the mission in which they were engaged remain  controversial. According to a report of Der Spiegel, there were only a small number of Russian fatalities, and the incident was not a "Russian attack.”

The February battle has a larger context that connects it with recent incidents such as the poisoning of Sergei Skripal . Russia is ruled by people whose mindset is an amalgam of two types of mentality: The worldview of Soviet security services and the temperament of the Russian criminal underworld.


Click here to read the full article

​Turkey Repopulates Syria’s Kurdish Afrin with Sunni Arabs

March 17, 2018

By Sirwan Kajjo

Two months after the start of their cross-border offensive in the Kurdish region of Afrin in northwestern Syria, Turkish military and allied Syrian Islamist rebels captured Afrin’s countryside and took control of much of the city center. Now a fierce urban fighting is expected between them and local Kurdish forces.

Click here to read the full piece

The Kurdistan Regional Government in 2018

March 13, 2018

The following questions were sent to the Kurdistan Regional Government in February. Falah Mustafa Bakir is the head of Department of Foreign Relations for Kurdistan Regional Government and he sent responses which are posted below in full. Some developments have happened since the questions were sent and responded to. For instance, Baghdad announced that it would re-open the Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airport to international flights, a major demand of the KRG.


Click below to read the full interview

Reducing Hayat Tahrir al-Sham's influence in Idlib

March 08, 2018

Mohammed Ruzgar looks at developments in northern Syria

Saudi princess speaking in Washington uses sport for gender equality

January 31, 2023

Laura Kelly discusses Princess Reema Bint Bandar al-Saud's recent talk in Washington

After Deir ez-Zor battle, deterring Russia in Syria

March 06, 2018

Alex Grinberg looks at the battle with US and SDF forces near Deir ez Zor in February and whether Russia was deterrded

Please reload

• By Muhammed Ruzgar •  March 5, 2018 
• By Laura Kelly •  March 4, 2018 
• By Alex Grinberg •  February 28, 2018 
• By Jonathan Spyer •  February 26, 2018 
• By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  •  Feb 22, 2018 
• By Jonathan Spyer •  February, 2018 
• By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  •  Feb 9, 2018 
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