Tag Archives: Hassan Hassan

In Memoriam: Abdelbasset al-Sarout

The death of Abdelbasset al-Sarout has elicited a great tide of grief in Syria which has been echoed and felt across the world. At his death, Sarout was 27 years old. He had fought against the regime of Bashar al-Assad for almost a decade, and had served as a symbol of defiance and hope for as long. Continue reading

Iranian Militias and Syrian Forces Become Indivisible as Assault on Daraa Looms

Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar Assad is long standing. Much of that support has been through Iran’s proxies and allied militias. Some of these, such as the Lebanese group Hezbollah, have contributed thousands of men who have fought in Syria on the side of the regime. Continue reading

ISIS, Insurgent and Resurgent

The Islamic State (IS) has been militarily defeated in its attempt to create a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. Its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria were wrested from the terror group after long, grinding campaigns fought by local forces with extensive international assistance.

After the rapid capture of Tal Afar and a pocket around Hawija from IS last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the war against IS was over, that it had been won. Continue reading

Turkey’s Limited Victory in Afrin

When Turkey began its campaign against the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria, undertaken in tandem with selected Syrian rebel groups, global condemnation followed.

Operation Olive Branch, as it is ironically called, met with fierce criticism from the beginning. Continue reading

Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Pose ‘Serious’ Threat to US Forces

When the Islamic State (ISIS) surged across Iraq in 2014, the Iraqi state and its army buckled. Iraqi forces retreated in disorder. Soldiers were killed outright; many were captured and subsequently executed. This presaged a national crisis. Continue reading

Defeating Daesh?

Despite the rhetoric, the campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) is not over. The international coalition is sounding almost triumphalist, giving developments a sunny gloss and frequently repeating claim that it is ‘defeating Daesh’.

This is true in a way, and success in one aspect – the protracted war which has pushed IS out of many cities and towns in Syria and Iraq – cannot be denied. Continue reading

Turkey in Idlib: So Much Could Go Wrong, so Little Right

There is no clear end to the Syrian war in sight.

Everything is in a state of motion. Nothing is fixed, and amid this confusion and volatility, much can still happen. Such ambiguity benefits foreign forces, many of whom feel it is in their power to change the shape of the war, or at least to pursue their narrow national interests within Syria. Continue reading

Fake News and the Two Sides of the ‘Digital Caliphate’

Despite ground losses in Iraq’s Mosul and Syr­ia’s Raqqa, the Islamic State (ISIS) continues to have a presence that incites or inspires online. Continue reading

Questions Remain With ISIS Leaders Down but Not yet Out

The Islamic State (ISIS) is on the back foot after its defeat in the Iraqi city of Mosul and smaller losses in Syria, but questions re­main over eradicating the group’s leadership. Continue reading

History of a Death Cult: Review – ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror (2015) by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan

The apparent advent of ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – took many by surprise. When it seized control of Fallujah in January 2014, it was categorised as an Al-Qaeda affiliate – not a separate entity – and while there were suggestions at that time of its ‘soaring capabilities’, very few can have predicted its tremendous rate of expansion, which added Mosul to ISIS’ burgeoning territory in June of that year.

One year on and it seems that the death cult is everywhere. In a calculated bid to increase its profile internationally, ISIS has opened (or co-opted) terror franchises in Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria and further afield; atrocities carried out in its name have scarred the streets of Paris, terrorised tourists at the popular Tunisian resort of Sousse and attacked multiple Shia targets within Saudi Arabia. Continue reading