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Archive For The “Analysis” Category

‘Strategic Lessons from the Ejection of ISIS from Sirte’, Atlantic Council, 16 May 2017

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‘Strategic Lessons from the Ejection of ISIS from Sirte’, Atlantic Council, 16 May 2017

Strategic Lessons from the Ejection of ISIS from Sirte   BY DR ALIA BRAHIMI AND JASON PACK     Though accompanied by curiously little fanfare, the Obama administration’s most significant victory against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) came not in Iraq or Syria, but in Libya. After eight months of fighting, the coastal city…

‘ISIL after Mosul: Insurgency and Rivalry’, Al Jazeera, 19 March 2017

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‘ISIL after Mosul: Insurgency and Rivalry’,  Al Jazeera, 19 March 2017

ISIL after Mosul: Insurgency and rivalry     As the battle for Mosul reaches its final stages, what we are witnessing is ISIL’s transformation, not its demise.     “The battle now is in the final stages,” Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi said on March 14 of the government offensive to retake Mosul from ISIL. “They are cornered,…

‘From the Rubble of Aleppo, ISIL Rises’, Al Jazeera, 21 December 2016

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‘From the Rubble of Aleppo, ISIL Rises’, Al Jazeera, 21 December 2016

  Through distraction, rival elimination and fears of the Sunni population, ISIL seizes opportunities of Aleppo’s war.   The United Nations Security Council on December 19 overcame intense divisions and voted for UN observers to monitor evacuations from the besieged city of Aleppo. Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, referred to the French-drafted resolution as “just…

‘Aleppo and the Myth of Syria’s Sovereignty’, Al Jazeera, 18 October 2016

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‘Aleppo and the Myth of Syria’s Sovereignty’, Al Jazeera, 18 October 2016

The narrative of sovereignty by the Syrian government is based on a number of myths.     The Syrian government’s campaign has reached a grim crescendo in Aleppo, further bewildering an international community struggling to respond to blatant attacks on hospitals, homes and humanitarian convoys. The government has long defended its actions, in Aleppo and…

‘Cultural Heritage and the Islamic State’, York Festival of Ideas, 19 June 2016

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‘Cultural Heritage and the Islamic State’, York Festival of Ideas, 19 June 2016

On 19 June 2016, the York Festival of Ideas held a focus day on Fragile Heritage.  I was invited to deliver the keynote address, the text of which is included below. “Our darkest predictions are unfortunately taking place”, said Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s antiquities chief, after images were posted online, of ISIL militants blowing up the temple…

‘ISIL May be in Crisis, But So is the Coalition’, Al Jazeera, 31 May 2016

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‘ISIL May be in Crisis, But So is the Coalition’, Al Jazeera, 31 May 2016

Writing on Al Jazeera, I argue that ISIL’s current battlefield losses will not automatically translate into meaningful gains for the coalition.   ‘The battle to recapture Fallujah from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has gathered momentum, with thousands of government-linked forces encircling the strategic town, supported from the air and advised on…

Expert Witness, UK Defence Select Committee, 3 November 2015

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Expert Witness, UK Defence Select Committee, 3 November 2015

  On 3 November 2015, I gave expert testimony to the UK Parliament.  Ahead of the publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, I briefed the UK Defence Select Committee on potential threats from North Africa and the Middle East. Below is a record of my opening remarks. Phil Wilson MP: What specific threats to the UK and its interests are…

‘Defining a “Full-Spectrum” Counter-Terrorism Strategy’, 22 July 2015

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‘Defining a “Full-Spectrum” Counter-Terrorism Strategy’, 22 July 2015

Chris Mackmurdo and I previously argued that there needs to be a ‘full-spectrum’ approach to combatting ISIL and similar groups. Since then, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon have both used this language, particularly since the Sousse attack. However, it is unclear exactly what they meant by a ‘full-spectrum’ response, and…

3-minute Interview with Contest Global, June 2015

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3-minute Interview with Contest Global, June 2015

  In June 2015 I was interview by Dr Chris Mackmurdo, former head of counter-terrorism analysis at the UK Foreign Office, for Contest Global. ‘You’ve recently written about the dangers of global jihadism as a state-building enterprise. Is the world becoming a more dangerous place? Alia: “Well, in general, the death toll in the world’s major…

‘ISIS and Global Jihad’, 18 May 2015

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‘ISIS and Global Jihad’, 18 May 2015

For the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and on the eve of the launch of its new publication, Armed Conflict Survey, I examine the two seemingly contradictory effects of ISIS on global jihad.  I argue that the competing tendencies of unity and fragmentation create a dialectical tension that will drive the evolution of global jihadism in…

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