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

Latest Articles and Blog Posts

Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi: East Aleppo Militia Expansion

June 18, 2017 at 10:10 pm

The Local Defence Forces network, set up and supported by Iran, has tens of thousands of people under its wing in Syria, going by the numbers given in internal documents. The statistics indicate that the network is most prominent in Aleppo province, where there has also been the most social media publicity for the Local Defence Forces. As the regime has expanded its control through the Aleppo countryside, most notably seizing large swaths of the rural eastern areas from the Islamic State (IS) that has culminated in IS' expulsion from its last notable Aleppo town holding of Maskanah earlier this month, so too has the Local Defence Forces network expanded. Indicative of this expansion of the Local Defence Forces is the creation of a new unit called Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi (The Thunder of the Mahdi Regiment), also known as Fawj Asha'ir Manbij (Tribes of Manbij Regiment).

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Katibat Dir' al-Watan Nasheed: Translation and Analysis

June 17, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Following on from my report on the new Syria-Lebanon border militia outfit called Katibat Dir' al-Watan, here is a nasheed from the group. The melody and performance are by Ghassan Ja'afar, whom I characterized in the original piece as a second deputy. Ghassan however, who was born in 1988, has one child and is a cousin of al-Hajj Muhammad Ja'afar, formally distances himself from Dir' al-Watan, describing himself to me as "independent" and affirming the following: "I am not affiliated with Dir' al-Watan." In any case, he is on the right of one of the photos below that is from Tartous province (note al-Hajj Muhammad Ja'afar is just to the left of the centre), which Ghassan explained as follows: "I was only accompanying al-Hajj because he is close to me."

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Journeys to Mosul

June 15, 2017  •  Middle East Review of International Affairs

This paper is based on reporting trips undertaken by the author in March and April 2017 to Mosul city in Iraq and some surrounding areas, in particular on the left bank of the Tigris River (i.e. east Mosul). These trips focused on the current situation in general as well as comparisons with life under the Islamic State. Based on the observations, broader and policy recommendations for the Mosul area are also put forward.

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The U.S.-Iranian confrontation on the Syria-Iraq Borders: Interview with an Iraqi Militia Official

June 10, 2017 at 8:27 am

Besides the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces operations with U.S. coalition support to capture the Islamic State's de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, the other major hot-spot to watch at the moment in Syria is the Syrian desert border area between Iraq and Syria. As the Islamic State continues to lose ground in Syria, it is apparent that there is a scramble to take the territory, particularly as the fighting shifts eastwards towards the border with Iraq. For the Syrian regime and its allies, the eastern regions are valuable for multiple reasons. Economically speaking, for example, there are valuable oil and gas resources, as well as agricultural assets and the prospect of opening or reopening important trade routes like the highway between Baghdad and Damascus. It is far more than mere symbolism, therefore, that the Syrian regime has worked to maintain its currently besieged outposts in Deir az-Zor province. The idea of coordinating with any available Iraqi forces to regain control of the eastern border areas has also long been on the table well, as when the commander for Liwa al-Imam Zain al-Abidin, a Syrian Hezbollah group fighting in the area, inquired with me in the autumn of last year about the territorial control situation in the eastern border areas, hoping he could arrange coordination with Iraqi forces.

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"Dawlati Baqiya": New Nasheed from the Islamic State's Ajnad Media

June 7, 2017 at 6:50 pm

The term 'baqiya' ('remaining') is one of the most familiar words associated with the Islamic State, dating back to the first statehood predecessor of the Islamic State: namely, the Islamic State of Iraq under Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. The idea of 'baqiya' is that the Islamic State will not vanish, whatever the setbacks. This is the underlying message of this new nasheed- Dawlati Baqiya (My Dawla/State is Remaining) from the Ajnad Media wing. Like 'Heed the Call', it is clearly addressing the current losses faced by the Islamic State amid the coalition campaign against it.

Below is my translation of the nasheed, with explanatory notes where necessary.

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