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

Latest Blog Posts

The Consolidation of Local Hashd Units: The Case of Brigade 32 (Interview)

April 21, 2024 at 3:27 pm

By now, it is well-known that Iraq's Hashd Sha'abi (Popular Mobilisation Forces) are principally organised into various brigades that have ordinal numbers and are officially affiliated with the Hashd Sha'abi Commission. In addition to these brigades, various smaller 'regiments' (Arabic: afwaj) have arisen during the course of the Hashd's existence. Many of these regiments reflect more local formations and have often been informally dubbed 'tribal Hashd.' However, a more recent trend in Hashd Brigade organisation has been to consolidate provincial regiments into brigades and attach them directly to the Hashd provincial operations commands. For example, Brigades 59 and 74 reflect consolidation of Hashd regiments in Ninawa province (Brigade 74 being particular to the Sinjar area) and their attachment to the Ninawa province operations command of the Hashd that is presently headed by Khudayr al-Matruhi who is tied to Brigade 21 (Badr).

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Israel's New Strikes on Southern Syria: A Local Perspective

April 19, 2024 at 8:00 pm

As part of its strikes in retaliation for Iran's strikes that were in turn retaliation for the bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Israel conducted an attack on Syrian territory: specifically the Izraa area in Deraa province in southern Syria. While there is much punditry speculating on what happens next, there seems to have been little effort to reach out to those living in the vicinity of where the strikes took place and get their perspective on what is happening. This is an unfortunate shortcoming, but the problem is part of a wider pattern of deficiency in coverage. With the hundreds of Israeli strikes on Syria over the years, there has been hardly any outreach by media outlets and analysts to those living in the areas where the strikes have taken place.

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The Islamic State vs. al-Qa'ida in Somalia

April 19, 2024 at 7:17 pm

While following the Islamic State's daily claims of operations can be useful in giving an overview of the group's activities on weekly, monthly and annual bases, there are cases where the group's affiliates have little to say on a daily basis about their activities but are then subsequently revealed to be engaged in operations and/or military campaigns that are retroactively claimed and reported in the weekly Arabic-language al-Naba' newsletter. This is what we see with the Islamic State's 'Somalia province' affiliate, which has not claimed any operations since early February but is in fact engaged in a sustained campaign against al-Qa'ida affiliate Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahidin (al-Shabaab for shorthand) in eastern Somalia. Like other al-Qa'ida affiliates, al-Shabaab is deemed 'apostate' by the Islamic State, not only for rejecting the Islamic State's Caliphate project but also actively fighting against the Islamic State. Indeed, some biographies of Islamic State 'martyrs' I examined as part of my doctoral thesis included members who had been assassinated by al-Shabaab.

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Iran's Strikes on Israel

April 14, 2024

I am sure many of my readers were up late last night live-tracking the strikes by Iran and its 'axis of resistance' against Israel in retaliation for the Israeli bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus. The strikes themselves were bigger in scale than might have been expected but were nonetheless calibrated, with Iran considering its response to be sufficient if the response deters future Israeli strikes on Iranian targets.

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The Escalation in Islamic State Operations Against the Syrian Democratic Forces

April 12, 2024

In queries I have received over the years, I have often been asked if an Islamic State attack or set of attacks over a short-time span in Iraq and/or Syria constituted a 'resurgence' for the group. In general, I do not believe that this sort of framing is the right word, because then the following question arises: what exactly does 'resurgence' mean? Does it mean a revival on the path towards recreating the peak of the group's fortunes in the 2014-2015 period when it seized and controlled substantial amounts of territory spanning the Iraq and Syria borders? This is of course ultimately how the Islamic State frames its general insurgent strategy: namely, that through persistence in waging jihad, it can gradually wear down its enemies to the point of inducing a rapid collapse and swift conquest, similar to what happened with the takeover of Mosul and other areas in Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2014.

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