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Terrorism - Counterinsurgency

A Moveable Feast? Reflections on the French Coverage of the Paris Attacks

[Image of the Eiffel Tower illuminated with the Tricolor following the Paris attacks. Image by Passion Leica/Flickr]

Writing on the relationship between acts of terror and the mystification of liberalism in 1947, Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote that, “cunning, violence, propaganda, and realpolitik” appeared “in the guise of liberal principles” and were “the substance of foreign or colonial politics, and even of domestic politics.” [1] He was not writing about religious fanatics, but he was rather concerned with another specter that once faced Europe: Communism. Unlike the Cold War, if France is indeed “at war,” one is at a loss to characterize what kind of war it is, or against whom it will be fought. Perhaps we are in what Jean Baudrillard categorized as a “Fourth World War,” in which the ...

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Terror Everywhere, Humanity Nowhere

[Image taken in front of Le Carillon on 15 November 2015. Image by Jean-François Gornet/Flickr]

It would surely be more reasonable to wait a few weeks and let the emotions subside. This is what decency and reason require. As a Parisian at heart, I would rather stay quiet. Unfortunately, falcons and fascists, wolves and warmongers, jackals and ministers are not bound by such scruples. They did not wait for the bodies to be buried or the tears to be dried before they started shouting their outrage. Now they call for a strong retaliation, for the closure of borders, for a new round of heavy-handed security measures. We are surrounded. It is impossible to summarize in one article the multiple dynamics at work in the escalation of mass terrorism that successively ...

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New Wars and Autonomous Self-Defense

[US soldier in Afghanistan, January 2011. Image via Flickr, from]

A number of scholars working in the fields of geography, sociology, and political science have developed the concept of “new wars” to talk about the state we are living in the last two decades.[1] These scholars claim that currently, we are going through a fourth world war—that is, of course, if we would call the cold war a third world war—and argue that after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the politics of controlled conflict and tension has been replaced by continuous, scattered, and extending small wars, whose sides are multiple and whose outcomes remain uncertain. So first, I will address this concept of new wars. I will explain how both a biopolitical and a ...

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Drone Warfare and the Superpower’s Dilemma (Part 2)

[Image source: The Economist]

This is Part 2 of a two-part article. To access Part 1, click here. Historically, the risks of soldier death and injury were ineluctable features of war, and served sometimes to limit or force an end to wars. Risks to soldiers’ lives were altered (but not eliminated) long before the appearance of drones through the development of increasingly long-range weapons. For Americans, the Vietnam War, at the time the longest overseas armed conflict, was a major turning point in terms of the politics of risk and sacrifice. For one thing, the war ended without victory; the phrase “Vietnam syndrome” became a popular way of describing the American public’s antipathy to the blood ...

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Three Theses on ISIS: The Universal, the Millenarian, and the Philistine

[A view point of the city Kobanê, in Syrian Kurdistan, during the bombradment of ISIL targets by US-led forces, The photo has been taken from Turkish-Syrian border (Suruç). Photo by M. Akhavan / Persian Dutch Network.]

The ruthless brutality of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) unfolds before our eyes on the screens. As commentators struggle to explain and understand it, it becomes convenient to revive old Orientalist tropes. Beyond the spectacular brutality, the reason that ISIS invites attention (both fascination and fear) is that it seems easy to fit in confrontational narratives of Islam (us v. them, anti-American, etc.). Muslims are clearly angry at something. In his infamous article “The Roots of Muslim Outrage”, Bernard Lewis simplistically explained that Muslims are envious of, and angry at, Western modernity and secularism. The U.S. magazine Newsweek ...

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France Decorates a Moroccan Facing Justice on Bastille Day: A Portrait of Abdellatif Hammouchi

[Abdellatif Hammouchi receives decoration from the Spanish government. Image from screenshot of Moroccan state channel, Al Oula.]

Despite objections from human rights organizations in Morocco and France, on 23 June 2015, the National French Assembly adopted a bill that requires judges to refer legal complaints regarding criminal acts committed in Morocco to Moroccan justice. This would also include cases in which French citizens were subjected to acts of torture. The Senate will ratify this decision on 15 July 2015. This ratification comes a little over a year after the French justice system began raising questions about the head of Morocco's intelligence services, Abdellatif Hammouchi, for whom strong suspicions of complicity in torture did little to impede his rapid rise through the ranks. ...

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Declassified 2012 Defense Intelligence Report on Syrian Uprising, Gulf Intervention, and Potential for al-Qa'ida Gains

The declassifed document below was obtained as part of a document trove secured by the right-wing institution, Judicial Watch. It obtained the report through a May 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Defense Intelligence Agency authored the report, which dates August 2012. It demonstrates that the Department of Defense was aware that Western powers, Gulf states, and Turkey were fully supporting the opposition. It also notes that if events unraveled, there was the possibility of what was then al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI) establishing a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria. It further claims that, according to their intelligence, ...

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Syria Media Roundup (March 8)

[Image from]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Monday night of every week.]             Inside Syria  We Need to End This Dirty War: An Interview With Haytham Manna Interview with Haytham Manna and his take on the Syrian conflict.  ISIS loses more than 20 villages in Syria Kurd and Assad forces take over 20 villages from ISIS in Syria. Syrian army and ...

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Manufacturing Silence: On Jordan's ISIS War, Arab Authoritarianism, and US Empire

[Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircrafts fly alongside a US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft while waiting to connect for fuel over Jordan on 19 October 2009.]

On 24 December 2014, ISIS reported and the US-led coalition confirmed that a Jordanian fighter pilot, Mu‘ath al-Kassasbeh, had crashed in Syria and was now in ISIS custody. On 3 February 2015, ISIS released a video showing its own members murdering the pilot by immolation. The Jordanian regime vowed revenge. Some Jordanians took to the streets in grief and anger. The Jordanian Armed Forces, for its part, intensified its bombing campaign in Syria. Media outlets and Middle East analysts have expended considerable energy assessing whether and how Jordan’s war on ISIS in the aftermath of the Kassasbeh capture and death represents a game changer. It is difficult to find a ...

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Charlie Hebdo ve Cumhuriyetin Sinirlari

[Image of a demonstration following the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office. Image by canal6hn/Flickr.]

Charlie Hebdo and the Borders of the Republic Charlie Hebdo's office immediately after the attack on the reviewers " West and democracy "," the core values ​​of the French Republic "against a huge thrill to have doors undertaken against these attacks. This "republican" values ​​in an unquestionably, that came up as a completely pure emanating from the origin. Moreover, Muslims demand forces to show that they share the sacred values ​​of secularism and freedom of expression are also increasingly proliferated. With devastating irony, forced the Muslims, historically made ​​to keep them out, their commitment to these values ​​formed prove is ...

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Charlie Hebdo and the Limits of the Republic

[Image of a demonstration following the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office. Image by canal6hn/Flickr.]

Immediately following the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, commentators denounced an attack on "Democracy and the West," an attack on "the fundamental values of the French Republic." Everywhere in France, people are rallying around these apparently pure, unproblematic “Republican values.” There have been many requests for Muslims to demonstrate that they share in the Republic’s cherished values of secularism and freedom of speech. It is bitterly ironic that Muslims are being asked to prove that they believe in the same values from which they were historically excluded. The Republic has always had a darker side, ...

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Latin America’s Lesson for the United States: Prosecute the Torturers

[ People hoping for change at the Guantanamo and Bagram detention facilities. The White House, Washington, DC. January 2009. Image by Mike Benedetti.]

The Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on torture has revived debate worldwide about the United States use of torture in the aftermath of 9/11. ­ Some have applauded the report—including organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which have pushed for a full accounting of the use of methods prohibited by US and international law, as well as accountability for those who made such methods official state policy. They also note significant shortcomings—including the Senate’s failure to release the full report, a four-year delay in the release of the summary and the redaction of key ...

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في العلاقة الشائكة بين التاريخ والتطرّف

استهلال: سيبدو من السذاجة والتبسيط أن نردّ ظهور، ومن ثم تنامي وتعملق، تنظيم كـ"الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام"، (داعش) بالاختصار العربي، إلى سبب واحد، حتى لو رجحت كفة سبب على آخر. ولنعترف بأن ظهور تنظيم مشابه لن يكون بسبب واحد محدّد ومنجز. وباعتقادي فإن الأسباب المتعددة تلك تتفرّع في عدة محاور: المحور الإيديولوجي/ الثقافي، والمحور السياسي/ الاستراتيجي السلطوي، والمحور الاقتصادي/ الطبقي، وكذا المحور الإنساني النفسي/ التربوي، إن صحّ أن نعتبره محوراً خاصاً. هذه المحاور تتداخل وتتمازج في معظم ...

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Turkey Could Cut Off the Islamic State’s Supply Lines. So Why Doesn’t It?

In the wake of the murderous attacks in Paris, we can expect western heads of state to do what they always do in such circumstances: declare total and unremitting war on those who brought it about. They don’t actually mean it. They’ve had the means to uproot and destroy Islamic State within their hands for over a year now. They’ve simply refused to make use of it. In fact, as the world watched leaders making statements of implacable resolve at the G20 summit in Antalaya, these same leaders are hobnobbing ...

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Ankara Bombings: Democracy Now! Interview with HDP’s Hisyar Ozsoy and Turkey Page Co-Editor Asli Bali

As many as 128 people died in Turkey Saturday when nearly simultaneous explosions ripped through a pro-peace rally in the country’s capital of Ankara. More than 245 people were injured. The bombs went off just as Kurdish groups, trade unions and leftist organizations were preparing to begin a march protesting the resumption of fighting between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants. Earlier today, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed ISIL for carrying out the attack. But march organizers ...

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Drone Warfare and the Superpower’s Dilemma (Part 1)

The United States has been in a continuous—or, at least, uninterrupted—state of armed conflict since 2001, and there is no end in sight. The strategies and technologies, as well as the locales of engagement and designated enemies of this “’global’ war on terror” have changed considerably over the past fourteen years. Nevertheless, the US government still relies on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress on 14 September 2001 (three days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks), as ...

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لا بشرٌ ولاحجر... تدمر وسرديات الحرب على الآثار

كان من عادات الملوك المنتصرين في العالم القديم أن يقوموا إما بمسح ذكر أولئك المهزومين، أو بتخليد هزيمتهم وإذلالهم للأبد ليكتبوا بدورهم تاريخهم ويخلدوا إنجازاتهم عبر العصور. مع بروز عصر القوميات والنشاط الاستعماري وحركات الاستشراق وتوافد المستكشفين والمغامرين الأوروبيين، نشطت حركة البحث عن المدن القديمة التي كان يُعتقد أنها أسطورية كتلك الواردة في العهد القديم والملاحم الكلاسيكية كالإلياذة والأوديسة قبل أن تتكشف حقيقة وجود هذه المدن والممالك القديمة لتبدأ معها رحلة تهريب الآثار إلى المتاحف الأوروبية. ...

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The Rise and Fall of Abu ‘Iyadh: Reported Death Leaves Questions Unanswered

On 2 July 2015, Mosaïque FM, the largest radio station in Tunisia, reported that Sayfallah ‘Omer bin Hussayn al-Tunisi (al-Tunisi), also known as Abu ‘Iyadh, had been killed in a US led airstrike targeting former Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) commander Mokhtar al-Mokhtar. No sources were attributed to this announcement. But two days later, the New York Times confirmed the information, this time with unnamed sources. Mosaïque FM promptly published the news that the New York Times had confirmed ...

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Capitalizing Urbanism: On David Kilcullen’s "Out of the Mountains"

“It’s a book about future conflicts and future cities.” David Kilcullen, Out of the Mountains “…the whole fucking city was trying to kill them!” Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down   In his book, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla, author David Kilcullen, describes how in 2007, just after “the worst months of the Iraq War” (19), he was drinking expensive cocktails at a fashionable Manhattan hotel with an old Australian army buddy. Kilcullen, an Australian citizen, a ...

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الدولة الإسلاميّة: نزهة في كهف التنين

بنفس الحدّة التي يقول فيها وائل الحلّاق "إنّ الغالبية العظمى من مسلمي العصر الحديث تتمنّى عودة الشريعة بشكل أو بآخر"، يمكن القول إنّ الغالبية العظمى من قرّاء "الدولة المستحيلة: الإسلام والسياسة ومأزق الحداثة الأخلاقي" سيرون فيه كتابًا في غاية الاستفزاز. تنبّه مترجم الكتاب عمرو عثمان لذلك فكتب في مقدمته بأنّ القارئ "قد يرفض بعض ما يطرحه المؤلّف في هذا البحث وربّما كله". ولا عجب، فكتاب الدولة المستحيلة الذي يشتمل على خلاصات أبحاث وائل الحلّاق في الدراسات الاسلاميّة هو بمثابة ...

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ISIS Kills Gays: A History of Violence

Hands shove them forward, bound and blindfolded. Then comes the step when the stone beneath them stops and nothing is there. The photographs appall but they have the solidity of things you can see; they suggest but cannot summon the feel of one terrifying lurch in darkness when all that is solid falls away. Death is what happens when you are there, alone, and the world disappears. ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which now styles itself just the Islamic State. Many ...

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Charlie Hebdo et les limites de la République

Tout de suite après le massacre aux bureaux de Charlie Hebdo, les commentateurs se sont émus d’une attaque sur « l’Occident et la démocratie » « les valeurs fondamentales de la République française. » Ces valeurs « républicaines » sont invoquées avec unanimité, sans débat, comme si elles étaient d’une origine parfaitement pure. Mieux, les requêtes se multiplient pour exiger des musulmans qu’ils démontrent qu’ils partagent les valeurs sacrées de la laïcité et de la ...

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القواعد البريطانية الجديدة في الخليج

تفاجأ كثيرون بالإعلان، المصحوب بضجة إعلامية كبيرة، عن توقيع اتفاقية بين البحرين وبريطانيا تتيح لهذه الأخيرة "إقامة قاعدة عسكرية في البحرين لمواجهة التهديدات التي تتعرض لها المنطقة". وأشارت شعارات الاحتجاج التي رفعها المتظاهرون في البحرين إلى إن الاتفاقية هي إيذان بـ "عودة الاستعمار إلى المنطقة"، وانها "جزء من الثمن التي تقبضه بريطانيا نظير دعمها السياسي للنظام البحريني وصمتها تجاه ما يرتكبه من انتهاكات لحقوق الإنسان". وعلى الجهة المقابلة، أوضحت التصريحات الرسمية إن إنشاء ...

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The Islamic State: The Fear of Decline?

Following a series of military setbacks, Dabiq—the propaganda magazine of the Islamic State (IS)—is issuing calls for the unity of followers to compensate for the dwindling number of its fighters. Through its powerful media apparatus, IS states its ambitions. The Islamic State has shown great capabilities on the field, but also in the virtual sphere. The group has developed a high-quality media industry and mastered this tool like no jihadist group ever has. In comparison, al-Qa‘ida propaganda is a ...

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