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

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog

The Island of Sark (Post in Western Neo-Aramaic)

I have recently had the great fortune of visiting the island of Sark, one of the Channel Islands located between England and France. Here, cars are banned. There are also no street lights, meaning that there is very little light pollution. On a clear night with no moon, it is possible to discern the Milky Way.

I long ago took an interest in the island not only because of its lovely rural environment and natural beauty, but also because of its dialect of the Norman language, dubbed Sarkese or 'patois' among the locals. Unfortunately, Sarkese is moribund. While recent media reports have noted that there were three native speakers remaining, it turns out that one of them (Esther Perrée) died only a few weeks ago. The island's oldest inhabitant- Nellie Le Feuvre, currently aged 97 and whom I have met- does not speak the language though says that she understands it. Fortunately, a Czech linguist called Martin Neudörfl has been doing vital work to preserve and codify the language in written form from remaining speakers and 'rememberers' of the language. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Martin via phone contact, and his own efforts reminded me of my work to preserve written examples of Western Neo-Aramaic. Accordingly, below is a short description of the island of Sark in Western Neo-Aramaic, written in the most endangered dialect (that of Bakh'a) and with Arabic and English translations. I also include some photos of the island.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Fri, June 7, 2024  |  Permalink

المظاهرات في إدلب

ليست الحكومة السورية الجهة الوحيدة التي تشهد مظهرات مستمرة ضد حكمها، بل قامت مظاهرات كبيرة ضد سياسات هيئة تحرير الشام في مناطق ادلب وما حولها على مر الأشهر الثلاثة الماضية. يذكر أنّ الهيئة هي الفصيل المهيمن في هذه المناطق وتسلط عليها من خلال قواتها العسكرية ومؤسسات مستقلة شكلياً مثل حكومة الانقاذ وجهاز الأمن العام. واستمر هذا الوضع في مناطق ادلب وما حولها منذ عام ٢٠٢٠ بسبب وقف اطلاق النار الذي توافقت عليه تركيا وروسيا.

في اي مناطق انتشرت المظاهرات؟ ما هي أسباب المظاهرات؟ وما هي المظالم والمطالب؟ وكيف ردت الهيئة على المظاهرات؟ من أجل تسليط الضوء على هذا الموضوع اقدم لكم مقابلة أجريتها مع أبي محمد نصر وهو من حلب أصلا وينتقد سياسات قائد هيئة تحرير الشام أبي محمد الجولاني. ويقول أبو محمد نصر إنّه "ثائر من ثوار حلب."

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By أيمن جواد التميمي  |  Sat, June 1, 2024 5:40 AM  |  Permalink

The 'Hadd' Punishment Against Apostasy from Islam

Recently, Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, a prominent British Muslim convert to Islam, issued an 'apology' on Twitter/X in which he clarified: "I fully believe in, support and defend all Islamic laws, including hadd for ridda." As the historian and linguist Marijn van Putten notes, just remove the veil of the Arabic terminology and what Hamza is calling for is the application of the death penalty against apostates (i.e. people who have abandoned Islam). While Marijn decried Hamza's remarks and suggested he would report them, Professor Jonathan Brown of Georgetown University (himself a convert to Islam) offered soft apologia for Hamza's position, describing them as "totally unremarkable religious belief." For his part, Javad Hashmi of Harvard University, who co-hosted a Bible-Qur'an course with famous New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, critiqued Hamza's position as a "backwards, medieval view" and offered a substantive refutation of it, but he nonetheless suggested it was reflective of 'cancel culture' to report such views as problematic to social media or employers. That there are academics at prestigious Western universities offering these sorts of soft apologetics for Hamza's position is remarkable to me, but I guess the issue requires some explanation.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Fri, May 31, 2024  |  Permalink

Behind the Idlib Protests

The Syrian government is not the only actor to be facing sustained protests against its rule. In the 'liberated' northwest of Syria- specifically the region of Idlib and its environs- there have been widespread demonstrations over the past three months or so against some of the policies of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, the dominant insurgent faction, led by Abu Muhammad al-Jowlani. Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham exercises authority not only through its military wing but also various bodies that are nominally independent but in fact backed and controlled by the group, such as the 'Salvation Government' and the 'Public Security Apparatus.' Ultimately, the status quo in the northwest- sustained since 2020 by a ceasefire arrangement brokered between Russia and Turkey- has given rise to a system that has many parallels with how Hamas governed Gaza prior to Israel's latest military campaign: one faction exerting hegemony and implementing an Islamist, authoritarian mode of governance.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Wed, May 29, 2024 5:11 AM  |  Permalink

Jihadists and Andalusian History

Commenting on Spain's recent recognition of a Palestinian state, Israel's foreign minister- Israel Katz- furiously commented that "if this ignorant, hate-filled individual [Spain's deputy prime minister] wants to understand what radical Islam truly seeks, she should study the 700 years of Islamic rule in al-Andalus- today's Spain." The comment itself was met with much derision as reflecting ignorance of the history of Muslim Spain (al-Andalus). It does, however, afford an opportunity to explore in more detail how jihadists (who are equated with 'radical Islam') view and understand the history of al-Andalus, spanning the time of the initial conquest in 711 CE until the fall of Granada in 1492 CE.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Mon, May 27, 2024 5:07 AM  |  Permalink

The Term 'Sabaya' and the Israel-Hamas War

On multiple occasions since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, audio and video clips have circulated in which some Israeli females taken captive by Hamas and its allies on 7 October are dubbed 'sabaya' (Arabic spelling: سبايا). On account of the fact that this was the term the Islamic State used to refer to Yezidi women it took captive and enslaved, some fear that the Israeli women and girls held in Gaza have been enslaved. Others point out that the term's basic meaning is simply female captives. So what is the truth of the matter?

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Thu, May 23, 2024 5:03 AM  |  Permalink

الوضع الأمني في البادية السورية: مقابلة

مع تجميد جبهات القتال في الوقت الحالي، فإنّ أهم التحديات الأمنية داخلية بالنسبة لقوات الحكومة السورية وحلفائها، حيث أنّ تنظيم داعش ما زال يقوم بعمليات. وصار تجهيز التقارير الإعلامية حول هذا الموضوع صعباً، بما أن التنظيم لا يعلن عن عملياته كثيراً لأسباب أمنية، ويعتمد الكثير من المراقبين على تقارير "المعارضة" التي تحتوي على الكثير من المعلومات المضللة والافتراءات.

من أجل تسليط الضوء الموضوعي على هذا الأمر وفي ظل التصاعد في عمليات التنظيم في البادية (على ما يبدو)، اقدم اليكم مقابلة أجريتها مع أبي جعفر (العقرب) الذي كان من مؤسسي الدفاع الوطني في حمص وقائد لواء خبير سابقاً، وحالياً هو يعمل مع الفرقة ٢٥ من أجل تأمين الطريق الدولي من دير الزور الى تدمر وحمص، علماً أنّ أبا جعفر وضع اعلاناً في الفترة الأخيرة حول فتح باب التطوع في الفرقة ٢٥ من أجل القيام بمهمة تأمين طريق البادية.

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By أيمن جواد التميمي  |  Wed, May 22, 2024 5:34 PM  |  Permalink

The Security Situation in the Syrian Badiya

With Syria's conflict frozen along the frontlines between the three main sides in the war (the Syrian government, the insurgents and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces), the primary challenges facing each of these sides are internal, whether in the form of protests (e.g. the sustained protests against Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib and its environs) or security incidents and insurgent activity. For the Syrian government, the biggest security issues lie in the badiya region (the central Syrian desert and steppes), where the Islamic State has proved to be a persistent insurgent problem. Reporting on the issue has been somewhat difficult though, because the Islamic State itself tends to underreport its activities in this area, and because a lot of the pro-opposition reporting that tends to attract more attention among outsider observers is unverifiable, exaggerated or fabricated.

To discuss the situation in more detail, such as the apparent general escalation in recent Islamic State activity in the badiya, the nature of that activity and whether any towns are at risk of falling to the Islamic State, I conducted an interview with Abu Ja'afar ('The Scorpion'). Previously one of the founders of the National Defence Forces in Homs and commander of the auxiliary formation Liwa Khaybar, Abu Ja'afar now works with Division 25 (which evolved out of the Russian-backed Tiger Forces) in trying to keep the Dayr al-Zur-Palmyra-Homs route secure and is hoping to recruit new fighters as part of the mission against the Islamic State in the badiya. Other forces involved in trying to secure the badiya include Liwa al-Quds (also mainly Russian-backed) and Iranian-backed forces.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Mon, May 20, 2024  |  Permalink

Islamic State Report on Assaulting of Macomia in Mozambique

The Islamic State insurgency in northern Mozambique shows no sign of abating, with the group regularly publishing photos of assaults on Christian villages in which homes and churches are burned. Moreover, the Mozambique affiliate has publicised da'wa (religious outreach) activity within some Muslim villages, indicating freedom of movement and the implementation of the most primitive forms of Islamic State governance. On 10 May, the president of Mozambique declared that the town of Macomia had come under attack from Islamic State insurgents.

At the time, the Islamic State did not report anything on this attack, but it has now issued a detailed report in this week's issue of its al-Naba' newsletter regarding the events. The operation is described as one that 'temporarily' seized control of Macomia. Given the propaganda value of this operation, it is unsurprising that the attack is the subject of this week's editorial in the newsletter, which uses the assault to mock the U.S.-led 'Inherent Resolve' campaign against the Islamic State.

I translate the report below, together with the accompanying infographic.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Fri, May 17, 2024 5:15 PM  |  Permalink

The Life of Hamdi Ahmad Hajj Ali

While internal developments and news from Syria's southern province of Deraa on the border with Jordan and the Golan Heights may attract less interest and attention than before, there are still regular security incidents in the province in the form of assassinations with gunfire and IED attacks. These incidents can kill civilians, local government employees, criminals and local militiamen, and security and military personnel. At least some of these attacks have been and likely still are the work of the Islamic State. These incidents do not mean that the collapse of formal Syrian government control over Deraa is imminent, but rather only that there is a persistent, chronic instability.

In this post, I document the life of a Syrian army officer- Hamdi Ahmad Hajj Ali- who was killed in a recent incident in Deraa (photo below).

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Wed, May 15, 2024  |  Permalink

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