Recently someone sent me an essay written by the jihadist thinker Adnan Hadid back in February 2020 and published by Mu'assasat al-Bayan lil-Ilam al-Islami (which supports al-Qa'ida), discussing lessons that should be applied from the previous nine years of experience to the current state of the Syrian jihad. The essay is supposed to be the first part in a series. I found this essay by Hadid interesting and decided to translate it in full.
In summary, the author argues that the West is conspiring against the Syrian jihad in various ways and its current strategy (in which it has been at least partially successful by the author's admission) is based on corrupting the head of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (Abu Muhammad al-Jowlani) and eliminating in various stages the potential individual figures to his consolidation of power as the leader of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham. At the same time, large numbers of the honest mujahideen have also perished in battles, and what remains is Jowlani surrounded by his loyalists who also dupe the honest fighters still in Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham. The author sees these developments as part of a Western strategy of 'containment' against the Syrian jihad and the 'mujahid group.' The author calls for a 'counter-containment' strategy represented foremost in removing Jowlani as head of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham in some way.
Interestingly the author references the 'Mulla Omar-Mulla Bradley' contrast that was invoked by Anwar al-Awlaki. The idea of this is that 'Mulla Bradley' serves as the West's answer to an honest Muslim leader like Mulla Omar. Jowlani is seen as a 'Mulla Bradley.'
Below is the essay.
It has become common knowledge that the Islamic State is operating in an 'insurgent phase' in Iraq and Syria following its loss of formal control of territory. To try to gain some sense of this insurgent activity, various methods of research are pursued, such as gathering monthly data on operations claimed by the Islamic State and then mapping out those claims, conducting interviews with locals, and so on.
Even with this research though, it can often be difficult to gauge a precise sense of Islamic State insurgent activity. Is the group 'resurging'? This question often arises in media outlets but tends to be based on observation of an immediate incident or a short-term trend while overlooking the longer-term data. But the longer-term data do not necessarily provide definite answers. Not all operations may be claimed by the Islamic State for various reasons, and one cannot simply count all operations as though they are the same in nature. Interviews with local sources may produce some interesting testimonies but can also be limited: people will say different things according to place and time, and the end result is that it can be difficult to draw broader conclusions and make definite claims as to whether the security situation is getting 'better' or 'worse.'
As I mentioned previously on this blog, I sometimes like to listen to the old speeches of Hafez al-Assad, who was president of Syria from 1971 until 2000. Another speech of his that I found interesting was the one that he delivered after the outbreak of the October War in 1973 (6 October 1973), when Arab forces led by Egypt and Syria fought against Israel. I note in particular the references to Arab history and jihad during this speech as the war in that year occurred during the month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. I also note the fact that Hafez says 'may God be pleased with them' after mentioning the names of the first four Rashidun caliphs (Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali). This kind of formulation is associated with Sunnis even though Hafez was Alawite in origin.
Below is the speech translated in full, and I have included some footnotes to provide context.
On this blog I would like to post on an occasional basis older historical documents predating the time of mass Internet access. As it happens, I have a collection of some old issues of Syrian newspapers and intend to post some articles from these papers with translation. The first of these articles concerns the period in which the Islamist insurgency (led by the Muslim Brotherhood) plagued Syria (1976-1982). The article- produced by the Syrian Arab News Agency and reprinted in the newspaper Tishreen (aligned with the Syrian state)- detailed an explosion allegedly caused by the Muslim Brotherhood insurgency in the Homs area. As can be seen, the Syrian state-aligned press did report on some of the security incidents that occurred during this period.
مع الأسف لا تزال محافظة درعا تشهد حوادث امنية بشكل يومي تقريباً وهذه الحوادث عبارة عن إغتيالات وهجومات اخرى. ومع ان هذه الحوادث تحصل في شتى المناطق في درعا, هناك احيانا تصعيد امني متمركز في بلدة معينة. وصار ذلك في الفترة الأخيرة في بلدة الكرك الشرقي في ريف درعا الشرقي وصارت هناك مخاوف من اقتحام البلدة من قبل قوات الحكومة السورية. ومن اجل النقاش في هذا الموضوع اجريت مقابلة عبر يومين (من تاريخ ١٠ نوفمبر الى تاريخ١٢ نوفمبر) مع جهاد سلطان النعمة وهو مختار الكرك الشرقي. انه شخص وطني يراعي مصالح بلدته دائما. ويمكن ان يتذكر القارئ انني اجريت مقابلة معه في عام ٢٠١٨ قبل المصالحات في درعا خلال الصيف.
Syria's southern province of Deraa unfortunately continues to witness security incidents on an almost daily basis, in the forms of assassinations and other attacks. While these incidents occur in a variety of places in Deraa, there are sometimes bigger flare-ups in particular localities. A recent case is that of the locality of al-Karak al-Sharqi in east Deraa countryside, where there have been fears of an outright assault by Syrian government forces. To discuss this issue further, I conducted an interview with Jihad Sultan al-Nu'ama, the mukhtar of al-Karak al-Sharqi who is a patriotic person and has always looked out for the interests of the locality. Readers may remember that I conducted an interview with him back in 2018 prior to the reconciliations that summer.
This interview was conducted over the course of 10 November-12 November 2020. It is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
لقد اجريت مقابلات في الماضي عن بعض المجتمعات الاجنبية في سوريا. وفي هذه المقابلة مع المصور حسين الاسدي (وهو عراقي الجنسية ومقيم في دمشق منذ الولادة) ناقشنا حال المجتمع العراقي في سوريا على المستوى العام. علما ان تم اجراء هذه المقابلة بتاريخ ١ تشرين الثاني عام ٢٠٢٠.
Previously I have conducted interviews on some of the foreign communities in Syria. In this interview with Hussein al-Asadi (an Iraqi photographer who lives in the Damasacus area and has been living there since birth), we discussed the current Iraqi community in Syria on the general level. This interview was conducted on 1 November 2020. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
At the outset, I should clarify that this post is not an obituary for a friend who has died from COVID-19 or from 'complications due to COVID-19' (as we have now been accustomed to read so often in death notices). Nor is this a post about someone who has contracted COVID-19 and is on the verge of dying. Far from it, this is about losing a friend to some sort of madness that has been induced by the pandemic and its socio-economic repercussions. I believe this is an issue that merits further attention amid all the discussions about COVID-19, especially since it seems unlikely that this pandemic is going to end anytime soon. This experience has left me distraught and at a loss as to what to do.
Article Invité: Cheikh Abu al-Yaqdhan al-Masri Sur La Controverse des Dessins Humoristiques Français
[Introduction de l'Éditeur: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi]: Récemment il y a eu une grande controverse suite au meurtre d'un professeur en France par un musulman de l'origine tchétchène. Il a tué le professeur parce qu'il a montré à ses élèves les dessins humoristiques qui insultent le prophète Muhammad. En réponse à la défense de la laïcité par le président français Emmanuel Macron (et cette défense est venue avant le meurtre), il y a eu des appels à boycotter des biens français dans quelques régions du monde musulman. La colère a été très apparente en Syrie avec des protestations à Idlib (par exemple) contre la France et Macron et les dessins.
Dans un article invité pour mon site, Cheikh Abu al-Yaqdhan al-Masri (qui est un clerc indépendant d'origine égyptienne et habite à nord-ouest de Syrie) écrit sur la controverse.