The Islamic State and its enemies

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The publicised beheading of an American journalist, by someone appearing to be British, symbolises no doubt deliberately the IS challenge to a world in which it has no friends and seeks none. Most of its victims have been Arab and Muslim, but this puts great pressure on America and on President Obama to act as the world’s policeman. A rerun of America’s Global War on Terror would suit IS much better than agreement among its many enemies to join forces against it. President Hollande of France …

Iraq and IS

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The replacement of the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who had become identified with Shia hegemony by Haidar al-Abbadi is a first step towards what The Economist, in an article on developments in Iraq published today 16 August, defines as creating a government sufficiently inclusive to win back the trust of Sunnis, and thus undermine IS, …

Iraq: US intervention

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President Obama announced on 7 August that he had authorised airstrikes in Iraq to protect US personnel and a humanitarian effort to save Iraqi civilians. He did not refer to the Islamic State or to Syria, but concentrated on the threat to Erbil in Kurdistan and to the religious minorities including Christians and Yazidis. He continued …

The “Islamic state”

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Since the dramatic proclamation a month ago of the Islamic State, replacing ISIS/ISIL, its control over Sunni eastern Syria and western Iraq has been consolidated but it has not attempted further expansion, for example refraining from attacking Kurdistan. Since it is in violent confrontation with all its neighbours, reports about its problems or progress are befogged by propaganda. A typical example is a report quoted by the UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq Jacqueline Badcock (sic) that women in Mosul had been ordered to undergo female genital mutilation; the …

The Islamic State (ex-ISIL); the outlook

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Note by WAND: WAND will be taking a short vacation, and will not appear in the coming week, nor part of the following week. We expect to resume on 24 or 25 July. The self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has formed a cabinet, details of which, based on documents seized from an ISIL member’s house following a raid by the Iraqi army, were published in the Telegraph on 9 July. A report in the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya …

The Islamic State: Saudi reaction

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 The Islamic State: Saudi reaction The newly proclaimed Islamic State is a threat to all the neighbours of Syria and Iraq in varying degrees. The governments of those with mainly Sunni Arab populations (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait) are concerned not only with the territorial threat but with the possibility of an internal fifth column. If the concept of a new …

Caliph Ibrahim

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ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has renamed itself “the Islamic State”, and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been appointed its Caliph. Caliph, from the Arabic Khalifa meaning successor, was the title of Islamic rulers after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate survived many historical vicissitudes and was eventually abolished when the Ottoman Empire was defeated in the First World War. But it is part of the Salafi perception of the pure and original form of Islamic rule, and has been much discussed as part of …

Inside ISIL

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ISIL has seized a border post at al-Qaim (where the Euphrates flows from Syria into Iraq), important for its supply lines to Syria, and some small towns further down the Euphrates. Its attack on Tikrit is reported to have been blocked by security forces and tribal fighters. Fighting around the refinery at Baiji has been inconclusive. Reuters reports clashes …

Syria/Iraq

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The consequences of the establishment of control of Eastern Syria and Western Iraq by ISIL/ISIS (also referred to by its Arabic name Da’ish) are still unclear, with commentators differing widely. Their expansion has been slowed down and may have been halted. Fighting continues, for example, for control of Iraq's biggest oil refinery at Baiji, 130 miles north of Baghdad. The …

Iraq after Mosul

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Since our posting of 11 June following the fall of Mosul to ISIL/ISIS (there is a useful BBC profile of ISIL at link) the move to Tikrit and towards Baghdad has continued, but perhaps the most important single event has been that Kurdish forces, Peshmerga, have taken full control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk …