October 16, 2020

MERIA Special Report: Did ISIS Use Chemical Weapons Against the Kurds in Kobani?


*** WARNING:  This post contains images which some readers may find disturbing.  Caution is advised.  Please scroll down to view these images. The fate of Kobani city now hangs in the balance, as around 9000 fighters of the Islamic State organization close in on the Kurdish held area.  The current IS assault on the Kobani enclave was not the first attempt by the jihadis to destroy the Kurdish-controlled area.  The Kobani enclave, most of which is now in the hands of the IS, at one … [Read more...]

Western fear of angering Turkey leaves besieged Kurdish town at mercy of Islamic State

Jerusalem Post, 7/10 The fate of the Kurdish enclave in Kobani appears to be sealed. The greater part of the formerly Kurdish-ruled area has already fallen to the forces of Islamic State. Some 9,000 Islamic State fighters are positioned close to the last remaining redoubt – Kobani city itself. The black flag of the Sunni Islamists is already flying in three neighborhoods of the city. On Monday, the Kurdish authorities ordered the evacuation of all remaining civilians from the city. … [Read more...]

The Defense of Kobani

Jerusalem Post, 27/9 This week witnessed the second determined attempt by Islamic State forces to destroy the Kurdish enclave around Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) city in northern Syria. Kobani is one of three autonomous enclaves maintained by the Kurds in Syria. As of now, it appears that after initial lightning advances, the progress of the jihadis has been halted; they have not moved forward in the last 24 hours. The arrival of Kurdish forces from across the Turkish border is the key element in … [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...]

No Excuse for Western Surprise Re ISIS Advances

Car bombings are a frequently used tactic by insurgents in Iraq.

  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I would like to say that western policymakers have no excuse for being surprised regarding the ISIS advance into western Iraq, and the fragmentation of that country.  I and a number of colleagues have been writing about the rise of the ISIS organization and other putative ‘successor authorities’ in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, and the ongoing fragmentation of these countries on ethnic and sectarian lines, and the single sectarian war taking … [Read more...]

Wars Within Wars

PYD supporters at a funeral for a local of a village outside of Afrin, Syria, in 2012.

Weekly Standard, 16/5 With Syrian presidential elections scheduled for June, the incumbent and shoo-in for reelection, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, is campaigning on the promise that 2014 will be the year in which military operations in Syria end. However, the situation in northern Syria, exemplified by the conflict in the canton of Kobani, an area stretching from the Turkish border to south of Kobani city, and from Tell Abyad in the east to Jarabulus in the west, casts doubt on … [Read more...]

Kurdistan Emerges

In late February, The Jerusalem Post spoke to prominent Kurdish leader Zubeyir Aydar in the Brussels offices of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK). Aydar’s official title is vice-president of the Koma Civakên Kurdistan (KCK) (Group of Communities in Kurdistan. He is one of the top figures in the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), second only to movement leader Cemil Bayik, and is the head of the movement’s European operations. The PKK has been engaged in an insurgency against Turkey … [Read more...]

War Across the Borders – One Sectarian War in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon

Saudi army in Jizan before war against the Houthis, November 2009.

A single sectarian war is currently under way across the Middle East.  This war has a number of fronts, some more intense and active than others.  Its most intensive arena is the single land area taking in the current states of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.  But this conflict is also manifest further afield – in Bahrain, in north Yemen, to some degree also in Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia.    The core powers on each of the sides are the Islamic Republic of Iran for the Shia, and the … [Read more...]

Defending ‘Rojava’


Jerusalem Post, 8/11: Kurds Consolidate borders of enclave with victories over al-Qaida in northern Syria The situation in Syria may appear after two and a half years to have turned into a static and bewildering slaughter. Neither victory nor defeat seem imminent for any of the sides. But this picture is not entirely accurate. On one front, at least, there is movement in a clear direction. The Kurds of north eastern Syria are consolidating their autonomous enclave bordering Iraq. The Kurds … [Read more...]

Kurdish Independence Now


The civil war in Syria and the increasing fragility of Iraq have thrown the long-term future of these states into question. For years, they were ruled by brutal regimes that held power in the name of Arab nationalism; as a result, they failed to knit together the populations they ruled into a coherent national identity. With the decline of repressive centralized authority in Syria and Iraq, however, older nationalities and identities are reemerging. Chief among them are the Kurds. Indeed, … [Read more...]