Thursday, September 8, 2016

Research on the Islamic State, Syria, and Iraq - Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi

by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project, writes extensively about the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and other armed groups in Syria and Iraq. As his writings and translations tend to be too detailed for a general readership, MEMRI periodically compiles links and summaries for those wishing to learn about the groundbreaking work of this prolific researcher. For all writings by Jawad al-Tamimi, click here.

Articles and Translations

Islamic State commanders are trained in both religious doctrine and military tactics.
Unseen Islamic State Military Commanders Manual: Qualities and Manners of the Mujahid Commander (April 11)
Lengthy translation of a guide published by the Idarat al-Mu'askarat (Camps Administration) of Islamic State's Diwan al-Jund (Soldiers Department). The guide covers religious doctrine, physical fitness, and simple bureaucratic procedures (keeping track of inventory, resolving disputes between military leaders and local administrators, applying for leave permits, requesting suicide operations, etc.). It is clear from the guide that the positions of military amir and security amir in each Islamic State wilaya (province) are separate.
A Caliphate Under Strain: The Documentary Evidence (April 22)

CTC Sentinel
Mr. Tamimi examines a series of internal IS documents, many published here for the first time, that show IS has come under strain as it's pounded by coalition air strikes and loses territory. These pressures have been felt in the group's military, financial, and administrative domains, forcing it to take measures to react and adapt. But there is little prospect of a collapse anytime soon. Populations under Islamic State rule are accustomed to suffering, he notes, and will likely stomach further decreases in their quality of life rather than rebel and risk a brutal crackdown.

Liwa al-Jalil: A New Pro-Assad Palestinian Militia (May 6)

Syria Comment
A profile of a new pro-regime Palestinian militia in Syria that explicitly identifies itself as "secular leftist." Includes a translation of the group's official account of its formation and excerpts from its charter (e.g. "destroying the Zionist entity in all its pillars."). According to Mr. Tamimi, its military role has so far been "very limited."

Syria, as seen from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
The Jihadi Threat on Israel's Northern Border (May 15)

Middle East Review of International Affairs
An in-depth look at the various Sunni jihadi groups operating in the south of Syria near the border with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and the threat they pose to Israel's security. Mr. Tamimi concludes that "the risk posed to Israel by the various Sunni jihadi groups in southern Syria is low," owing mainly to the fact that they "are heavily embroiled in infighting and have far greater priorities than to focus their energies on Israel."

The Leopards of Homs: A Pro-Assad Militia (May 15)

Syria Comment
A profile of the Leopards of Homs, one of several pro-regime militias operating with support from the Al-Bustan Association of Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Although the militia's sectarian affiliation is not evident from its insignia, the majority of its announced "martyrs" appear to come from Alawite areas.

The Local Defence Forces: Regime Auxiliary Forces in Aleppo (May 23)

Syria Comment
A profile of the Local Defence Forces (Quwat al-Difa' al-Mahalli – LDF), a distinct group of militias set up in 2012 by Iran as an auxiliary force for the Syrian army in the Aleppo area. LDF claims to have 50,000 fighters, but this is likely an exaggeration. In contrast to many other pro-regime militias, Mr. Tamimi observes, LDF has had some success "organizing local pro-Assad support networks ... that transcend the sectarian divide to a degree."

Yarmouk Valley: The Formation of Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed? (May 24)
Examines the apparent merger of two IS-affiliated Syrian Sunni jihadist groups, Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (LSY) and Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya (HMI), which Mr. Tamimi calls an Islamic State "attempt to reorganize and revitalize the southern front against [moderate] rebel factions" following the failure of a recent offensive against them. The move follows LSY's appointment of a new leader in March.
The 'Martyrs' of Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya (The Ja'afari Force) (May 29)

Syria Comment
Mr. Tamimi examines the announced martyrs of Liwa al-Sayyida Ruqayya, a Syrian Shi'a militia named for the Sayyida Ruqayya shrine in Damascus, to trace its evolving affiliations.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.


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