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 …

ISIL takes Mosul

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First we thank British former foreign service officer David Handley for a comment on our posting yesterday on Egypt:
I thought the 'scorecard' missed a couple of points. For those of us who lived and worked in Egypt under Mubarak, there has been an inevitability about the development of events there, an inevitability which predated the events in Tahrir …