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

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Jamaat Ansar al-Islam: Tribute to Ahrar al-Sham: Translation and Analysis

September 14, 2014 at 10:54 pm

The latest statement from Iraqi jihadi group Jamaat Ansar al-Islam (JAI: which expanded into Syria once unrest broke out there), extending tribute to the leaders of Ahrar al-Sham recently slain in a bomb attack, actually comes as no surprise, especially when one considers my prior scoop on the life of Abu Muhammad al-Muhajir- one of the founders of JAI's Syria branch- and the close ties he is said to have forged with Ahrar al-Sham in particular. The fondness of JAI for Ahrar al-Sham should be noted despite the latter's more recent attempts under the deceased Hassan Abboud to exhibit a more 'moderate' face in the face of fragmentation and declining outside support. Considering that JAI's Syria presence has now been reduced to Idlib and Aleppo provinces, ongoing coordination seems likely. One should also note that Ahrar al-Sham, like other Islamic Front groups, was keen to show it was not anti-muhajireen in general when infighting broke out with ISIS in January of this year, and the relationship with JAI is likely to have figured in the rationale for such a public stance.

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Ahrar al-Sham Nasheed: "Woe upon you"

September 10, 2014 at 9:11 pm

This nasheed for Ahrar al-Sham [H/T: Hans Scholl], which I have translated below, will perhaps be of interest in light of the wiping out of a substantial portion of the group's leadership in a bomb attack, including the overall leader Hassan Abboud. The nasheed is most notable for emphasizing a transnational outlook, with explicit reference to the establishment of the Caliphate. This contrasts somewhat with Hassan Abboud's attempt to emphasize a national framework, and points to the diversity of the Ahrar al-Sham movement.

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Islamic State "Euphrates Province" Statement: Translation and Analysis

September 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm

The Islamic State [IS]'s "Euphrates Province" (Wilayat al-Furat) is the group's newest administrative division, most notably encompassing the localities of al-Qa'im in Anbar province on the border with Syria and Albukamal in Deir az-Zor province on the border with Iraq, together with some neighboring contiguous territory. With the creation of this new entity, IS is partly intending to reinforce its narrative that it has 'broken the Sykes-Picot borders'.

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Naqshbandi Army Nasheed: "Oh Baghdad"

September 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm

This nasheed is one of the more well-known Naqshbandi Army [JRTN] songs, whose first-line refrain ("Oh Baghdad, we've brought huge armies") could often be heard at the protest sites organized by JRTN's activist wing Intifada Ahrar al-Iraq (e.g. Fallujah February 2013, Tikrit). Reflecting JRTN's desire to espouse Iraqi nationalism, the song is heavily imbibed with Iraqi dialect (e.g. 'ihna, Iraqi 'we', for standard Arabic nahnu; lach, 'for you' feminine singular vs. laki; dhawla, 'these', instead of ha'ula'i).

Some important features to note are as follows:

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Extremist Groups in Syria

September 8, 2014  •  Middle East Institute

Three and a half years into the Syrian civil war, it is clear that any hopes that the overall insurgency against the Assad regime might develop in a more "mainstream" and "moderate" direction have dissipated.[1]

Hopes had been pinned on the rebel groups under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner in the southernmost province of Deraa (the "Southern Front"). Many of these groups, which espouse a vague, superficial religious identity,[2] were the intended recipients of arms shipments[3] approved by the United States in coordination with Saudi Arabia.

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