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Thread: Beyond the frontline: watching ISIS

  1. #121
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    An interesting post from Razib Khan "Islam is not a religion of the book"

    http://www.unz.com/gnxp/islam-is-not...medium=twitter

    I agree with the broad argument. Coming to prediction, I think a lot of real history is made by men (and some women) making models and predictions about what comes next and acting on the basis of these predictions. In the short term (and in the long term we are all dead) that can be the most important thing of all...distant intellectuals (including amateurs like us) have the luxury of sticking to whatever story we happen to like and adding a few bells and whistles to explain all obseved deviances (that is why postmarxists for example will never be out of a job, since all they are selling is entertaining stories to fellow enthusiasts and there are no limits on what can be fitted into the story with a little imagination), but real people are also fighting real wars while we discuss this. To the extent that they believe in a certain model today, they and their competitors can benefit from knowing what that model is. All sides will adjust as models fail and situations change...that is a given. And THAT, i guess, is the point of this post. And a good point it is too...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-19-2015 at 05:32 PM. Reason: Merged into the main ISIS watching thread

  2. #122
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default What ISIS Really Wants

    The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
    Graeme Wood
    March 2015
    http://www.theatlantic.com/features/...-wants/384980/

    Initial post for maximum visibility.
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  3. #123
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    One of the authors of 'Inside ISIS' Hassan Hassan (See Post 89; who originates from Eastern Syria) is interviewed on:
    • ISIS growth in North Africa
    • Where ISIS is winning, and where it is losing
    • Tactical vs. strategic effects of airstrikes on ISIS
    • Influence of Management of Savegery on ISIS actions and propaganda
    • Importance of local forces and tribes in fighting ISIS
    • Challenges to building those local forces
    • ISIS is setting the agenda, but the world needs to change that

    Link to a 41 minute podcast:http://middleeastweek.org/home/2015/...nst-them-grows
    davidbfpo

  4. #124
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    A very interesting article.

    Best read in counterpoint with this article by JM Berger:

    Enough about Islam: Why religion is not the most useful way to understand ISIS

    Argues that ISIS is more usefully analyzed as a Sunni Muslim identity group:

    And to be sure, religion matters to ISIS. A lot. But the concept of an exclusive identity matters far more, to the point that ISIS will engage in virtually unlimited theological gymnastics to justify it.

    For identity-based extremist groups, one function of extreme religious observance is to serve as an identity marker, a signal to establish who is part of the in-group and who is part of the out-group.

    Religion is therefore of primal importance in the narrative created by an extremist group’s adherents, but a group’s extremism does not naturally proceed from its claimed religious basis.
    Last edited by tequila; 02-19-2015 at 05:57 PM.

  5. #125
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Iran’s ISIS policy

    Unusually Chatham House's quarterly 'International Affairs' has placed this 15 pg article on open access:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...2346.12183/pdf

    Near the end is this neat summary:
    Since the Islamic Revolution, Tehran has often been described as an irrational, ideologically driven actor, impelled by the notion of martyrdom and an apocalyptical world-view. Yet Iran’s foreign policy proves that it is often driven by national and regime interests. The developments in Iraq and Syria and the Iranian leadership’s response to them illustrate this fact. Indeed, Tehran’s overall strategy, as well as its willingness to engage with Saudi Arabia and the United States, demonstrate that Iran’s foreign policy does not always follow its revolutionary rhetoric.
    davidbfpo

  6. #126
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    Blast from the past as some of us know this individual up front and personal.

    Another Bucca Graduate first class---US intel seems to have never figured out the old AQI command structure especially since he was evidently tied to the Zarqawi network. Our Army Iraq military prison system has produced some of the finest trained jihadi's in Iraq.

    Daesh top dog in Libya is an Iraqi: Wisam Abd al-Zubaidi AKA Abu Nabil al-Anbari, Bucca graduate, Zarqawi associate http://almasalah.com/ar/NewsDetails.aspx?NewsID=47815
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-20-2015 at 05:05 PM.

  7. #127
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    AtlanticCouncil ✔ @AtlanticCouncil
    #ISIS continues to build support from tribal groups & defecting insurgents, says @faysalitani. Read more: http://buff.ly/1CSK7f7 @AP

  8. #128
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    A short comment about the broader issue of what role Islam plays or doesnt play, big picture, etc.

    http://brownpundits.blogspot.com/201...n-of-book.html

    (the links add context and value)

  9. #129
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    Default An IS(IS) Reading List – Part One

    Not seen one of these before. Yours to explore:http://religionresearch.org/closer/2...list-part-one/
    davidbfpo

  10. #130
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    I have a post up about ISIS, Islam and suchlike (with due credit given to smallwars for some links at the end)

    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksd...the-dream.html

    excerpt:

    So in principle, we should be able to make new Islams as needed (and some of us have indeed done so over the centuries, the Ismailis being one extreme example; some Sufis being another) and I am sure others will do just that in the days to come. The Reza Aslan types are right about this much (though i seriously doubt that he can invent anything new or lasting; that does not even seem to be his primary aim). In fact, in terms of practice, millions of Muslims have already "invented new Islams". Just as a random example, most contemporary Muslims do not have sex with multiple concubines that they captured in the most recent Jihad expedition to the Balkans (or bought from African slave-traders for that matter). Not only do they not buy and sell slaves, they find the thought of doing so somewhat shocking. Also see how countless Muslims lived very obediently under British laws in the British empire and in fact provided a good part of the armies of that empire. Or see the countless Muslims who take oaths of loyalty to all sorts of "un-Islamic" states and, for the most part, turn out to be as loyal and law-abiding as any of their Hindu or Sikh or Christian fellow citizens in the various hedonistic modern states. Their "Islam" has already adapted itself to new realities.

    What sets Muslms apart is really their inability (until now) to publicly and comfortably articulate a philosophical rejection of medieval (aka no longer fashionable) elements of classical Sunni Islam. And for all practical purposes, this is a serious problem only in Muslim majority countries. In other countries that have a strong sense of their own identity and of the necessity of their own laws, Muslims mostly get on with life while following those laws. In the Muslim majority countires, it is the apostasy and blasphemy laws (and the broader memes that uphold those laws) that play a central role in preventing public rejection of unfashionable or unworkable aspects of classical Islam. A King Hussein or a Benazir Bhutto or even a Rouhani may have private thoughts rejecting X or Y inconvenient parts of medieval Islamicate laws and theology, but to speak up would be to invite accusations of blasphemy and apostasy. So they fudge, they hem and haw, and they do one thing while paying lip service to another. Unfortunately, this means the upholders of classical Islam have the edge in debates in the public sphere. And ISIS and the Wahabis are not far enough from mainstream classical Sunni Islam for us to think they are just some demonic eruption from outer space; for example, classical Islamic theology recommends cutting the hands of thieves, stoning adulterers, going on jihad (not just some inner jihad of the Karen Armstrong type, but the real deal), capturing slaves, buying and selling concubines, killing apostates and so on; ISIS of course goes much further in their willingness to kill other Muslims, to rebel against existing rulers and to bypass common humanity and commonly cited restrictions and regulations about prisoners, hostages, punishments and so on, but when they say classical Islam permits the first set of things noted above, they are not lying, the apologists are lying.

    - See more at: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksd....4L0W3lGm.dpuf

  11. #131
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default No good options seem to exist

    Aymenn Al-Tamimi

    Aymenn Al-Tamimi has a short article 'The U.S. Anti-ISIS Strategy’s True Cost' and sub-titled 'Can the U.S. do anything to stop Iran’s influence from expanding in Iraq while it counts on the country as a quiet partner against ISIS?':http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...true-cost.html

    Concern has been expressed that the U.S. ‘risks’ losing Iraq to Iran in the fight against IS, but it is probably more accurate to say the U.S. has already lost Iraq to Iran. No good options seem to exist, and the expansion of Iran’s sphere of influence may well have to be accepted as an inevitable consequence of the original decision to invade Iraq and remove Saddam’s regime from power.
    davidbfpo

  12. #132
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    Default CIA chief says ISIS has 'snowballed'

    Temporary separate thread for maximum visibility.

    CIA Director John Brennan said Friday that the Islamic State had “snowballed” beyond Iraq and Syria, estimating that at least 20,000 fighters from more than 90 countries have gone to join the militant group, several thousand of them from Western nations, including the United States.

    Brennan’s statement marks a change from the narrative the Obama administration has been pushing on the success of the fight against ISIS.
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015...-overinflated/
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  13. #133
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    The war in Syria has attracted roughly 100 foreign fighters from the Caribbean who could easily make their way to the United States, said the top U.S. military commander for the southern hemisphere.
    http://www.defenseone.com/threats/20...Border/107421/
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  14. #134
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Online Anonymity: Islamic State and surveillance

    I have seen many Tweets and a few articles on the success of ISIS / Daesh's info ops, so have added this link here, rather than in the Media arena:
    a very short discussion paper about the way in which terrorist groups, and specifically Islamic State, use modern encryption systems to evade surveillance. It examines how the risks of online anonymity are weighed against its many social, personal and economic benefits. It sets out a small number of recommendations about how the intelligence and security services might respond to the growing availability and use of encryption services.
    Link:http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/onlineanonymity

    It is a free download!
    davidbfpo

  15. #135
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    Here is a link to the latest Frontline special on ISIS. As normal, it is very well done. It is pretty graphic, so I don't recommend watching if you have the kids in the room. ISIS are clearly criminally insane, but this special presents a balanced view and demonstrates that the Shi'a death squads are almost as evil as ISIS.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...d=2495&elqat=1

  16. #136
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    Default ISIS For The Common Man

    ISIS For The Common Man

    Entry Excerpt:



    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
    This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

  17. #137
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    IS has proven nothing if not resourceful throughout its life. It now appears that it has entered the European drug trade for a source of funding, specifically bringing in Afghan heroin. Here's my article on it.

  18. #138
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default ISIS is really obsessed with the apocalypse

    A short interview with Will McCants (of Brookings) on his forthcoming book, that starts with:
    But there's something else that makes the group unusual that has gotten less attention: ISIS says, quite openly, that its ultimate mission is to bring about the apocalypse.....the belief in an apocalyptic, has come to play an important role in the group's strategy actions. This, McCants argues, has clear implications for how ISIS thinks — and how it acts.
    He ends with thsi vision being "double sided":
    Apocalypticism can certainly be a powerful tool for attracting recruits and justifying what you're doing. But if you disappoint apocalyptic expectations, it can easily work against you.
    Link:http://www.vox.com/2015/4/6/8341691/isis-apocalypse
    davidbfpo

  19. #139
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    Default Pragmatic cooperation between enemies

    From an Israeli think tank, The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center a short paper that starts with:
    One of the interesting phenomena of the civil war in Syria is the tacit understandings between two sworn enemies: the Assad regime and the terrorist organization ISIS. These understandings are about operating and marketing the products of the oil and gas fields, most of which are located in areas controlled by ISIS (see map). There are also arrangements for the distribution of electricity between the two sides. These understandings make it easier for ISIS to produce and market its oil and gas to the Syrian market. For the Syrian regime, they provide a (limited) solution to the shortage of energy resources in the territories under its control.
    Link:http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20793

    Money talks and I note the suspected intermediary is a Christian Syrian, with an Alawite wife, with Russian links.

    One wonders if the opponents of both Bashir Assad and ISIS use this "business is business" relationship in their media campaign?
    davidbfpo

  20. #140
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default ISIS: Islamic State Insurance Shield?

    The title was prompted by a Soufan Group intell briefing on ISIS taking part of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, a long established Palestinian refugee camp:http://soufangroup.com/tsg-intelbrie...ation-shields/

    The briefing's main point is that ISIS needs to have people as a shield against attacks:
    Fighters from the group stormed into Yarmuk refugee camp near Damascus, Syria, in part due to some of its fighters’ previous affiliation with the camp but also because it offers a sanctuary from coalition airstrikes and a population that can’t be evacuated to clear the way for a massive assault
    The camp's population has shrunk massively already, IIRC from 160k to 18k and has been beseiged by the Bashir regime (including other Palestinians) for three years already.

    I know ISIS control is being contested, although IIRC not by the bashir regime currently and little has been reported here on diplomatic activity.

    Will ISIS in pursuing its strategy stop anyone leaving the camp? Clearly most have left already.

    Personally I do not see Yarmouk as a shield for ISIS, simply as it is largely wrecked already and those who could leave have gone already. Nor are the coalition likely to mount air strikes against Yarmouk.

    A comment article on the fate of Yarmouk:http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...ians-arab-isis
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-13-2015 at 03:45 PM.
    davidbfpo

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