Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles and Blog Posts

The Story of al-Hajj Azra'il: From Nubl to Deir az-Zor

March 16, 2018 at 6:05 pm

It may be recalled that al-Hajj Azra'il came to limited media attention in 2016 as the leader of the Deir az-Zor formation Lions of the Eternal Leader (Arabic: Usud al-Qa'id al-Khalid), referring to Syria's 'Eternal Leader' Hafez al-Assad. This formation is affiliated with the military intelligence. However, by the end of 2017, al-Hajj Azra'il's tenure as head of the group had come to an end. Disgruntled, al-Hajj Azra'il moved to the Damascus area. Last month, I spoke to him at some length regarding his participation in the war effort on behalf of the Syrian government. His case not only provides some insight into how an individual can change his/her particular affiliations within a broad camp (in this instance, the side of the government and its allies) over time, but also into the war effort in Deir az-Zor when the government-held areas were besieged by the Islamic State.

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"You were free"- Nasheed from Islamic State's Ajnad Media

March 10, 2018 at 9:19 pm

This nasheed recently released by the Islamic State's Ajnad Media is particularly interesting because of the theme of its lyrics. The nasheed is reprimanding those who have abandoned the Islamic State and sought refuge in places that the Islamic State deems to be the abode of kufr [disbelief], including the West. Migration away from the Islamic State was a notable issue during the time that the group controlled substantial territory in Iraq and Syria, as the group imposed heavy restrictions on residents who would travel to places outside its areas of control.

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Naser Alsonna: Some Guy in Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed

March 10, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Previously I have written on the lives of some prominent deceased figures in the Islamic State-affiliate Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed that is located on the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. It might be asked whether there is any value in writing on people who are now dead. In my view, there is some value in these biographies at least from a historical perspective. Even so, it may be of more use to explore individuals in Jaysh Khalid bin al-Waleed who are still alive, such as Naser Alsonna, whose name (NB: his Latin script transliteration) translates as "Supporter of the Sunna." For this biography, I am largely reliant on the testimony of a cousin of his who still resides in al-Rafeed, the Quneitra locality from which Naser Alsonna originates. In addition, some details have been corroborated by a media activist from the area who worked with Liwa al-Sabteen (a Free Syrian Army-brand group that is the main rebel faction in al-Rafeed) and has since left Syria.

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A Visit To The Jazeera Canton: Report And Assessment

February 22, 2018  •  Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis

This report is based on the author's trip in January 2018 to the Jazeera Canton area of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria in the northeast of Syria. The visit particularly focused on the city of Qamishli on the border with Turkey. All featured photos are the author's own.


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The Sochi Conference and Afrin: Interview with Mihrac Ural

February 8, 2018 at 4:35 pm

Readers will probably remember that I previously spoke with Mihrac Ural (Ali Kayali) when I profiled his group the Syrian Resistance (aka The Popular Front for the Liberation of the Sanjak of Alexandretta) back in 2013. Repeated claims by the rebels to have killed him have turned out to be unsubstantiated. Ural has most recently come to public attention through his attendance of the conference in Sochi sponsored by the Russian government, aiming to cement a Russian-led political process in Syria and the Damascus government's ascendant position. Ural's attendance attracted considerable anger from the Turkish government, which considers him to be a terrorist.

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