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

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog

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

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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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Fri, March 16, 2018 6:05 PM  |  Permalink

ناصر السنة: عنصر من عناصر جيش خالد بن الوليد

كتبت في فترة سابقة عن بعض القادة القتلى من مرتبات جيش خالد بن الوليد المرتبط بالدولة الاسلامية والذي يقع مقره على حدود الجولان السوري المحتل. ممكن ان يسال القارئ كيف يستفيد من مقالات عن سير الاموات. يوجد على رائي الشخصي استفادة تاريخية على الاقل ولكنه ممكن ان يستفيد القارئ اكثر من مقالات عن افراد التنظيم الذين لا يزالون على قيد الحياة مثل ناصر السنة. وانا اعتمد بشكل عام على ما قاله لي احد اقربائه وهو ساكن في بلدة الرفيد بمحافظة القنيطرة (البلدة الاصلية لناصر السنة) واكد لي اعلامي سابق للواء السبطين (الفصيل الرئيسي في الرفيد) بعض تفاصيل سيرته.

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By ايمن جواد التميمي  |  Wed, March 14, 2018 1:59 PM  |  Permalink

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

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.

It is certainly wrong to claim that the Islamic State has been totally defeated. For instance, the group still controls some territory on the border areas between Iraq and Syria, while an affiliate also controls some territory on the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Further, the Islamic State still functions as a potent insurgency in parts of northern Iraq (a matter that has not received sufficient attention). That said, there is no denying that many fighters and members have become disillusioned and have abandoned the Islamic State, especially with the general demise of its state project.

My translation of the lyrics of the nasheed is below.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Sat, March 10, 2018 9:19 PM  |  Permalink

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

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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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Sat, March 10, 2018 12:24 PM  |  Permalink

The Sochi Conference and Afrin: Interview with Mihrac Ural

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.

Ural at Sochi

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Thu, February 8, 2018 4:35 PM  |  Permalink

مؤتمر سوشي وعمليات عفرين: مقابلة خاصة مع معراج اورال

يمكن ان يتذكر القارئ اني تكلمت مع معراج أورال (علي كيالي) لما كتبت تقريرا عن المقاومة السورية (الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير لواء اسكندرون) عام ٢٠١٣. مع ان المتمردين ادعوا انهم قتلوه مرتين على الاقل, اتضح انه لا يزال على قيد الحياة وبرز في الاعلام مؤخرا بسبب حضوره لمؤتمر سوشي في روسيا والذي نظمته وراعته الحكومة الروسية من اجل تقوية الاجراءات السياسية تحت رعاية روسية وتقوية موقف الحكومة في دمشق. طبعا ازعج حضور اورال الحكومة التركية فتعتبره ارهابيا.

وبعد عودة اورال الى سوريا قدرت ان اعمل مقابلة معه بنسبة المؤتمر والوضع الحالي في سوريا بما فيه الحملة التركية على منطقة عفرين. ويمكن ان يقرا القارئ تفريغ المقابلة ادناه.

ملاحظة: لم يستجب على سؤالي عن موقف المقاومة السورية بنسبة قوات سوريا الديمقراطية بشكل عام في البلد وامكانية اتفاق في المستقبل بين الدولة السورية وبين المناطق تحت سيطرة قوات سوريا الديمقارطية.

تم تحرير التفريغ قليلا

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By ايمن جواد التميمي  |  Thu, February 8, 2018 10:43 AM  |  Permalink

"Oh Hearts of Iron"- Nasheed from Islamic State's Ajnad Media

A nasheed released only today by Ajnad Media. Generic in content. My translation below.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Sat, February 3, 2018 6:10 PM  |  Permalink

"The Banner of Tawheed"- Nasheed from Islamic State's Ajnad Media

This nasheed from the Islamic State's Ajnad Media was released last month. Its title concerns the banner of 'Tawheed' ('monotheism': i.e. referring to the Islamic State's flag in this case) and is very generic in terms of its contents. My translation below.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Sat, February 3, 2018 3:09 PM  |  Permalink

Afrin Operations: Interview with a Kurdish Activist of the Shami Front

The Syrian rebel-held pocket of north Aleppo countryside that is located between Azaz and Jarabulus and backed by a Turkish military presence contains many villages with Kurdish populations. A current list of these villages- including those with mixed populations (i.e. a considerable proportion or even majority of Arabs and/or Turkmen)-is provided below. The number of families has not been ascertained for all of these villages, and in cases where a number has not been determined, there is no entry for that column in the table. Some specific cases could also be disputed (e.g. Qabasin, located near al-Bab city, could perhaps be described as 'mixed' in composition rather than Kurdish). Nonetheless, the list illustrates the general point about a substantial distribution of Kurds throughout this 'Euphrates Shield' zone. Any additional notes of my own are in square brackets.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Fri, February 2, 2018 6:59 AM  |  Permalink

Inquiring About A Role In Suicide Bombings Via WhatsApp

Procedures for carrying out a suicide bombing are not necessarily as simple as being willing to strap oneself with explosives or drive an explosive-rigged vehicle and then plunge into the enemy ranks. There is often also some bureaucracy behind the process, as has been attested in the case of the Islamic State. This point similarly applies to the Syrian jihadist group Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (Liberation of al-Sham Commission: HTS), a successor to Jabhat al-Nusra, which was Syria's official al-Qaeda affiliate.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Tue, January 30, 2018 10:25 AM  |  Permalink

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