September 1, 2014

About Jonathan Spyer

Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2010) and a columnist at the Jerusalem Post newspaper. Spyer holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Masters' Degree in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. His blog can be followed at: http://jonathanspyer.com/.

Qatar, Hamas and the Gaza War

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Al Arriya in Washington, April 2014.

Tower Magazine, August 2014. One of the most notable aspects of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is the prominent role being played by the Emirate of Qatar in supporting the terrorist organization, whose genocidal charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel. Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, the leader of the Emirate of Qatar, is acting as Hamas’ “channel of communication” to the international community. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is now … [Read more...]

Netanyahu’s ‘Long War’ Doctrine

President Obama and PM Netanyahu Visit Iron Dome Site in 2013 (photo credit:  Mark Israel / The Israel Project)

PJmedia, 5/8: As a number of former senior Israeli officials pointed out in the course of Operation Protective Edge, Jerusalem had only two possible strategic options to choose from as it entered this fight. The first involved seeking to inflict serious damage on Hamas’s military capabilities in an operation limited in scope. The goal of such a course of action would be to achieve deterrence against Hamas. Implicit in this option is that, at its conclusion, the Hamas authority in Gaza … [Read more...]

‘Islamic State’ Advances in Syria

ISIS fighters carry their weapons during a parade in Syria, near the border with Turkey, 2014.

Jerusalem Post, 1/8 In recent weeks, far from the attention of the world’s media, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS, formerly ISIS) has been fighting its enemies and expanding its borders. There is mounting evidence that IS has obtained a chemical weapons capacity of some kind, and has utilized it on at least one occasion during intense combat against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria. The organization has achieved signal successes against regime forces in Raqqa and Hasakeh … [Read more...]

Desperately Seeking Relevance

A protester leads a group of Egyptians in anti-Muslim Brotherhood chants, November 30, 2012. (Y. Weeks/VOA)

Jerusalem Post, 25/7 The conflict between Hamas-controlled Gaza and Israel became inevitable after a series of decisions and actions made clear that the movement was not interested in defusing tensions and returning to the cease-fire that had shakily pertained since 2012. These actions included the attempt to infiltrate a terrorist team into Zikim on July 8, the continued firing of rockets after the rejection of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal, the failure to respect the humanitarian … [Read more...]

Qatar / Hamas’s Collateral Damage

jonathan-spyer

PJMedia, 22/7 The fight between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is presented in the global media as a local conflict featuring a well organized state with its army, against a small Islamist organization. This picture is misleading. Hamas is not an isolated or even an entirely independent player. Rather, it is a member of a broader regional alliance, which is seeking to benefit from the current situation. This is the alliance of Muslim Brotherhood forces in the Middle East. Qatar is the main … [Read more...]

PROCEEDING WITH CAUTION: THE CURRENT BALANCE OF FORCES IN THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR AND ISRAELI CONCERNS

Israeli soldiers in an abandoned military outpost overlooking the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria on Tal Hazika near Alonei Habshan.

PDF version available here Aided by Hizballah and Iraqi Shi’a volunteers, the Asad regime scored significant gains in the civil war in Syria in the first months of 2014.  The regime has completed its re-conquest of the Qalamoun mountains and driven the rebels out of Homs. These gains constitute a consolidation by the Asad regime of its area of control in Syria, which runs from Damascus to the western coastal area, and now includes all the country’s provincial capitals with the … [Read more...]

The Fire This Time

Israel Defense Forces - Gaza Strip smuggling tunnel found near Egyptian border.

New York Daily News, 14/7 In recent years, even as the constant threat of terrorism from Hamas and Hezbollah loomed, Israelis would note the political conflagrations burning up the region all around them and would contrast these with the relative tranquility and normality in their own immediate neighborhood. These observations were made nervously, not with arrogance. Behind them was the assumption that it couldn’t last. Sooner or later, the wave of political fury sweeping the region … [Read more...]

Fractured States

Massoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region

Jerusalem Post, 4/7 In the latest evidence of ongoing fragmentation in what was once Iraq and Syria, Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, this week announced his intention to hold a referendum in the coming months to decide the question of Kurdish independence. “I have said many times that independence is the natural right of the people of Kurdistan,” Barzani told the BBC in an interview. “All these developments [in Iraq] reaffirm that, and … [Read more...]

Kurdish Advances

A Kurdish Peshmerga (COBRA special forces) officer fires a PKM in Mosul, (iraqi) Kurdistan.

Jerusalem Post, 21/6 The stunning collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul, and the rapid advance of the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) through Tikrit and toward Baghdad has created a new reality in Iraq. ISIS advances have continued this week; the organization has now taken the town of Tel Afar, with its 200,000 inhabitants, located west of Mosul. Iraq is now divided on a de facto basis into a Shi’ite south and center, including Baghdad, a Sunni, ISIS-dominated … [Read more...]

Second Front Opens in the Sunni-Shia War

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organization swept into the city of Mosul in western Iraq last week.  No one has any right to be surprised. ‬ ISIL has held a large swath of western Iraq since January – including the city of Fallujah.  The organization was clearly planning a larger scale offensive action into Iraq. ‬ In January it had carried out a strategic withdrawal from large swaths of Idleb and Aleppo provinces in Syria. This was intended to consolidate its … [Read more...]