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

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi's Blog

Report: al-Quds Day in the Aleppo Area

This year, 5 April was the world "al-Quds Day" ("Jerusalem Day"): an event organised by Iran in the name of supporting the Palestinian cause. Armed factions across the region that are backed by Iran are known to put on displays and events for al-Quds Day. This includes groups within the Local Defence Forces network (LDF) in Syria. The Aleppo region is arguably the epicentre of the LDF and al-Quds Day activity was well in evidence there. Below are some observations on the event in the Aleppo area this year.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Mon, April 8, 2024  |  Permalink

The Turkestan Islamic Party's New Call for Jihad Against China

The Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), an Uyghur Islamic group that has a Central Asia-based central leadership as well as a Syria branch, has issued a new statement addressed to the people of East Turkestan (the Xinjiang region in western China where the Uyghurs live). The statement denounces some Uyghur oppositionists who have recently accused the TIP of being linked to al-Qa'ida and serving the interest of the Chinese government. The TIP instead portrays itself as equivalent to the 'armed forces' of the Uyghur people, striving for the liberation of East Turkestan through the only viable means: namely, armed force.

The United States' delisting of TIP as a terrorist organisation is portrayed as part of God's cosmic law of "mutual repulsion among the people." This is a reference to Qur'an 2:251, and the idea is that God has conflicting groups of people fight each other in order to keep them in check. Officially, what the United States delisted in 2020 was the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement" (ETIM), but in practice the name of ETIM has been associated with TIP. The delisting was to the considerable irritation of China, so what TIP appears to be saying is that the delisting is part of the Americans and Chinese keeping each other in check, as part of deliverance for the Uyghur people.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Sun, April 7, 2024 12:15 PM  |  Permalink

Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham and the Druze of Jabal al-Summaq

The insurgent faction Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, which dominates the areas of northwest Syria outside of Syrian government control, has presently been rocked by the assassination of Abu Mariya al-Qahtani, an Iraq-born leader of the organisation who had been detained by the group's security apparatus on various charges, including 'collaboration' with the Americans, but was subsequently released last month on the basis that the allegations against him were not proven.

While I have no definitive information on these matters, it is my impression that there was something to the allegations that he collaborated with the Americans in that he may well have passed information to them about the whereabouts of some senior members of the al-Qa'ida-loyalist Hurras al-Din, who were then eliminated in American airstrikes. This would not be surprising if it could be proven: after all, Qahtani not only opposed the Islamic State but also came to see al-Qa'ida's brand as a liability for Islamic causes around the world, urging the group's affiliates to abandon al-Qa'ida just as Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham had broken ties with al-Qa'ida.

As to why Qahtani was released, it is my impression that there was internal and external pressure on Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham's leader Abu Muhammad al-Jowlani to do so, whatever the allegations and the evidence for them against Qahtani. The assassination of Qahtani is officially being portrayed as the work of an Islamic State suicide bomber: plausible if the assassin intended to commit a suicide bombing. But a more targeted method of killing would leave a more open question of the perpetrator, including the possibility of Jowlani eliminating a perceived internal threat from Qahtani and his support base. A truly definitive resolution of this question may never come to light, just as no one knows for sure who, if anyone, was responsible for the killing of many of Salafi insurgent group Ahrar al-Sham's first generation of leaders nearly ten years ago.

All these matters aside, I did want to highlight a less noticed recent development: namely, a small positive change in Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham's treatment of the Druze minority in the Jabal al-Summaq area of northern Idlib countryside.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Sat, April 6, 2024  |  Permalink

نبذة عن الضربات الإسرائيلية على الحرس الثوري وقوة الرضوان في سوريا

على الرغم من أنّ معظم الناس في العالم ينظرون الى الضربات الإسرائيلية على غزة ويستنكرنها بشدة، إلا أنّهم ما زالوا يعتبرون الضربات الإسرائيلية على سوريا بمثابة النشرة الجوية اليومية. ومما لا شك فيه أنّ هذه الضربات تستمر لأنّ المحاسبة على مستوى العالم معدومة.

في هذا المنشور أقدم لكم نبذة عن الضربات في الفترة الأخيرة وارتقاء المقاتلين من صفوف الأصدقاء (اي الحرس الثوري الإيراني والمقاومة الإسلامية- حزب الله) وقوات الأصدقاء، وكل هذا من أجل سجلات التاريخ.

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By أيمن جواد التميمي  |  Tue, April 2, 2024 1:35 PM  |  Permalink

Overview of Some Recent Israeli Strikes on the IRGC and Hezbollah in Syria

Recently, Israel has carried out airstrikes on a wide-scale across Syrian government territory, hitting targets of both Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah. The most prominent of these strikes came yesterday with the hit on the area of the Iranian consulate in Damascus. This strike most notably killed General Muhammad Reza Zahedi (al-Hajj Abu Mahdi), who has been described as the head of the IRGC's Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon. In the Syrian context, this meant that he served as the overall IRGC head of the Local Defence Forces (LDF) network. This network, also known as the 'Forces of the Friends' (Quwat al-Asdiqa') is the project of Syrian groups backed and commanded by IRGC and Hezbollah personnel in coordination with the Syrian military.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Tue, April 2, 2024 12:52 PM  |  Permalink

Richard Dawkins and 'Cultural Christianity'

An interview clip with Richard Dawkins on LBC in which the prominent atheist declared himself to be a 'cultural Christian' is presently doing the rounds on social media. Expressing dismay at the promotion of Ramadan instead of Easter in Britain, Dawkins noted that if he had to choose between Christianity and Islam, he would choose Christianity every time.

These remarks have provoked a wave of outrage and surprise. "There's something deeply ironic about Richard Dawkins, who spent decades undermining Christianity, now saying he is a 'cultural Christian' who 'likes living in a Christian country,' and is 'horrified' to see Islam rising in Christianity's place," proclaimed one editor. The 'luxury communist' thinker Aaron Bastani similarly wrote: "Bizarre from Dawkins, who wrote a book called 'The God Delusion' claiming religion was a deeply malevolent, dividing force in the world. Now he's calling himself a 'cultural Christian'? Find it odd to use religion to extend your secular political points." Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept accused Dawkins of shifting his position after participating in a "ruthless cultural war against Christianity" and only "belatedly" realising his mistake. Even the prominent historian Tom Holland, who seems more understanding of Dawkins' perspective, is under the impression that Dawkins has only recently begun to shift his views.

If only people's memories went beyond the latest clip to go viral. The reality is that Dawkins' advocacy of 'cultural Christianity' over Islam is nothing new or bizarre, and to accuse him of having waged a 'cultural war' on Christianity is off the mark. I observe this point because I distinctly remember reading Dawkins' 2006 book The God Delusion back when it was first released.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Mon, April 1, 2024  |  Permalink

New Speech by Islamic State Spokesman Abu Hudhayfa al-Ansari: "By God this matter will be fulfilled"

On Thursday evening, the Islamic State's al-Furqan Media released a new speech by spokesman Abu Hudhayfa al-Ansari, intended to commemorate ten Islamic calendar years since the Islamic State's announcement of the Caliphate. The following post presents a summary overview and a full translation of the speech. The main points of note are as follows:

. Much of the initial messaging is predictable about how the U.S. and its allies in the coalition against the Islamic State have failed to destroy the group despite all the effort made in the military campaign against it in Iraq and Syria. Whereas the key selling point was the territorial caliphate governing swaths of Iraq and Syria, now it is the expansion of the Islamic State affiliates across the world from East Asia to Mozambique. The speech's ending is primarily a recapitulation of the theme of America's inability to defeat the Islamic State, with a reiteration that the epic battle of Dabiq will eventually come and Islam will eventually prevail.

. There are typical counsels to its own fighters to be pious, remember God and be steadfast, remembering that with tribulation and difficulty, triumph will eventually come.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Sun, March 31, 2024  |  Permalink

Islamic State al-Naba' Newsletter Report on the Moscow Attacks

As was predictable, the Islamic State's weekly al-Naba' newsletter has released a more detailed report on the Moscow attacks to follow on from the video footage and initial claims of responsibility. The report spans two pages and includes an infographic on the attack and previous Islamic State attacks launched against 'Crusader' countries like the United States, Belgium, Russia (most notably the downing of an aircraft carrying Russian tourists in Sinai) and Sri Lanka. Oddly, the Islamic State still formally claims the October 1, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, despite the fact that neither the Islamic State nor subsequent investigation has produced any convincing evidence that the perpetrator was an Islamic State adherent or even a Muslim. Still though, there is no reason to doubt the Islamic State connection in the Moscow attacks or in the other incidents mentioned in the infographic. The attack is celebrated as coinciding with a decade since the establishment of the Caliphate according to the Islamic calendar.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Fri, March 29, 2024  |  Permalink

Turkistan Islamic Party Appoints New Deputies for Syria Branch

Of various foreign fighter groups in Syria, the Turkistan Islamic Party's Syria branch is arguably one of the most prominent. Founded and led by Uyghurs who came into Syria from Turkey in order to participate in the insurgency against the Syrian government, the branch has also included non-Uyghurs in its ranks, and it is effectively an ally of the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham-led order in the region of Idlib and its environs in northwest Syria.

It should be stressed however that the Syria branch is not some independent entity from the Turkistan Islamic Party's centre based in Central Asia. Rather, the Syria branch coordinates and communicates with the centre. This fact is illustrated by a new statement issued from the centre and addressed to the Syria branch. The statement notes that following mutual consultation between the leadership council ('Shura'/'consultation' council) of the centre and the leadership council of the Syria branch (also a 'Shura' council), two individuals have been newly appointed as deputies for the leader of the Syria branch. The statement urges for the members of the Syria branch to show compliance with the decision and preserve the unity of the Turkestan Islamic Party.

Below is the statement in Arabic and with my translation. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Mon, March 25, 2024  |  Permalink

Islamic State Claims Moscow Attacks

Today, large-scale terrorist attacks took place in the Moscow area. Despite predictable conspiracy theories claiming that the attacks were a false-flag operation by the Russian government in order to rally support for Russia's war in Ukraine, the nature of the attacks captured on footage and the U.S. intelligence community's own warnings earlier this month about threats of an imminent attack by 'extremists' in Russia pointed to the Islamic State's responsibility. As should always be standard procedure, it is best to wait in the aftermath of any incident to see if the Islamic State issues some official kind of claim, and sure enough, it has done so, initially via its Amaq News agency (there will be other material from the group to follow, which I will post when it emerges).

It is notable to see how the attack is framed: namely, it is portrayed as an attack targeting Christians. Of course, this framing is in keeping with how Islamic State views all Christians worldwide in terms of a three-way choice: convert to Islam, become dhimmis and pay a poll-tax and live as second-class citizens under the Islamic State's authority, or die. As was the case with the Turkey attacks earlier this year, one should not read some sophisticated geopolitical strategy into this operation that has resulted in mass killing and destruction in Russia. It is simply a case of Islamic State operatives and cells striking wherever they can as part of a global 'fight the infidels and apostates everywhere'- an approach underscored by the Islamic State's spokesman Abu Hudhayfa al-Ansari in a speech released just after the Iran bombings.

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  Fri, March 22, 2024  |  Permalink

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