Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
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Naqshbandi Army Statement- 21 July: Analysis and Translation

July 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Intro and Analysis

As per a new project for this site, I am partly turning my blog into a clearing house for important primary source material on the Iraqi insurgency. The first in this series is the latest official statement from the Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandia (JRTN or "Naqshbandi Army").

These are the main analytical points to note in relation to this statement:

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Minority Dynamics in Syria

July 29, 2014  •  Syria Comment

With the Syrian civil war well into its fourth year, it is apparent that political and militia dynamics that have developed with Syria's main minorities (in this analysis, excluding the Kurds)- namely, Alawites, Druze and Christians- have largely remained unchanged and if anything have only solidified. With the Alawites and Druze, political and military dynamics are still largely slanted towards the Assad regime, whose perceived protector status has only been enhanced with the large-scale territorial gains of the Islamic State across eastern Syria. For the Christians, the geographic splits that I documented previously have similarly remained in place.

Alawites

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The Factions of Raqqa Province

July 29, 2014  •  Syria Comment

Much has been noted of the presence of the Islamic State in Raqqa province, where the group controls all major urban localities (Raqqa city, Tabqa, Ma'adan, and Tel Abyad), as well as the Kurdish militias just west of Tel Abyad, from which town they were expelled back in August 2013 on account of cooperation between the Islamic State, Ahrar ash-Sham and other local rebels who have since been subdued by the Islamic State. What then of other groups? Broadly, we can distinguish two kinds: pro-regime forces, and a small rebel insurgency fighting against the Islamic State. They are detailed below. Note that I exclude Jabhat al-Nusra as a separate group here because the history of the group's presence has been sufficiently well documented before.

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General Military Council Operations: 22nd July

July 22, 2014 at 7:32 pm

The General Military Council is arguably the main new name in the Iraqi insurgency to have emerged in 2014. Though there is an official claim to separation from the Naqshbandi Army (JRTN), the distancing, as I have outlined before, needs to be treated with the same caution as the Kurdish PYD's official distancing of the YPG militias, and the Syriac Union Party's distancing of the Syriac Military Council as "independent."

I translate below a sample of their daily operations, this one from 22nd July.

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Reflections on Methods

July 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Over the course of the past year or so, I have intensely tracked the jihadist group the Islamic State (formerly ISIS). I did this on both Twitter and in my analytical articles, such that I attracted the attention of primary sources in my role of what the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization would term a 'disseminator'. To gain the confidence of these circles, I feigned sympathy for their views and adopted a 'jihadi persona' in communications with them. While this indeed garnered some valuable information (eg it helped me first identify Moroccan ex-Gitmo detainee Muhammad Mizouz and his presence in Syria), it was also unethical, pure and simple. Not only that, but the jihadi persona and a desire to seem humourous on Twitter led to other unethical actions, such as a silly tweet in December 2013 calling for JM Berger's account to be reported, even as I quickly deleted it.

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