Hassan Hassan Profile picture
Director of the Non-State Actors Program, @CGPdc. NYT Bestselling Author https://t.co/UHFCxSjoJz. Writer, @Guardian @TheAtlantic @ForeignPolicy
Rathnavel Kumaran Profile picture Magdi Shalash Profile picture Neeraj Singh Profile picture 4 added to My Authors
9 Jul
One thing I’ll always be proud of is that we provided Husham with the platform & resources to publish his work almost weekly. We had big plans, ideas for longterm projects & to publish more regularly. Others only used him for quotes, and ignored his published work.
He had so much to produce, he truly deserved a whole team dedicated to his work. You can find his work here cgpolicy.org/articles/isis-…
Apart from the consistent scoop-based work @CGPdc published, the first major project he had submitted will be the first of its kind on Iraq. Watch this space.
Read 7 tweets
29 Jun
Details I obtained about the jihadist infighting in northwestern Syria, and about Ansar al-Islam's leadership and members (that ancient pre-ISIS Iraqi jihadi group.)

I checked with a few knowledgeable sources in Syria, about the general story I'm going to only sum up.

All sides of this infighting have made claims & counter-claims, so I won't get to those -- there is a summary of that in this earlier thread, if you want to catch up:

More interesting details about what really triggered this & how things stand today:
For chronology, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) learned that a group of al-Qaeda factions & allies were planning to form a coalition.

And here is the big one...

... the plan was for these groups to establish their control over the city of Idlib!
Read 24 tweets
25 Jun
Two very important statements issued by al-Qaeda and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in northern Syria. Both offer insights into the nature of the fighting between the two in the north, and a little about their "relationship".

Summary and commentary in this #thread.
Starting with the latest, just now. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra) issues a response to al-Qaeda, denying they initiated the fighting against the formal franchise of al-Qaeda known as Hurras ad-Din.

HTS's statement is issued by Abu Abdullah al-Shami.
Al-Shami says his group HTS and al-Qaeda's franchise had signed an agreement (after a period of fighting that followed the HTS breaking away from al-Qaeda) that regulated al-Qaeda franchise's work in the north. Those regulations include:
Read 13 tweets
24 Jun
Big news -- almost certainly true, but somehow not yet announced by the United States:

A prominent ISIS leader (so prominent he was strongly suspected be the yet unconfirmed new ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi) has been killed by a US drone in northern Syria.

Abu Saad al-Shamali al-Shami Faiz Ukal al-Nuaymi al-Qurayshi, was killed in a drone strike earlier this week. He was traveling under a false name and ID for "Ahmed El Darwish" in areas controlled by the Turkish-backed rebels.

A gruesome video & picture exist but not for sharing.
Abu Saad, a Syrian, is a KEY ISIS operative in Syria. He is said to have been jailed in the notorious prison of Sednaya before the Syrian uprising. He is also known for extreme views, even within ISIS, but was VERY close to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He was put in charge of Raqqa.
Read 18 tweets
20 Jun
Big development.

In an escalation, Egyptian president Sisi says Cairo is now prepared to intervene directly in Libya. He says an Egyptian intervention has become legal under international law to protect its borders, secure Libya & protect civilians there

This statement follows persistent efforts in past weeks by the UAE to stop the advances of the Turkish-backed UN-recognized government in Libya, after the military fiasco of its ally Haftar.
Using the same line that Russia and the UAE in past weeks, Egypt’s Sisi says that the red line for them would be if the Turkish-backed Libyan forces attempt to capture Sirte and Jafra. The Cairo Declaration seems to stop these advances through a ceasefire:
Read 9 tweets
27 May
A statement to be released by ISIS shortly, either from the new leader or the spokesman (more likely). It was expected given the recent surge in attacks.
A new statement by ISIS spokesman just now
ISIS Spox Abu Hamza al-Qurashi, after 7 minutes of usual preaching intro, he speaks about Covid-19.

He says the coronavirus is a punishment to "crusaders" who are facing the same misery that ISIS faced, bodies in the streets, lockdown, siege etc.
Read 27 tweets
27 May
Can you think of a more cruel law against women in the Middle East? Women in Saudi Arabia are banned from visiting the graves of their loved ones. Men are encouraged to. A moving footage of a woman peeking into a cemetery, as part of a campaign to lift it:
The issue came now because during Eid, it’s customers for people (men in this case) visit burial sites in the morning as part of connecting with their loved ones and families.
When asked if it’s okay for women to pray for their loved at the gate of a cemetery, this Saudi cleric says no. Not even entering, just praying at the entrance.

He says prayers are prayers wherever they are performed. So pray far away from graves, women:
Read 8 tweets
19 May
I’ve covered courts & legal system for years, so let me explain why this headline is misleading:

First, this (good) rule involves only cases of ta’zeer not hudud. Discretion not the mandated sharia penal code. A person will be flogged if they’re convinced of having sex or ...
... or if they commit qathf (accusing someone of something related to honor) or probably drink alcohol (disputed).

Offensives without a prescribed punishment in the scripture are traditionally left for the ruler or judiciary to decide how they’re punished. Easy to argue against.
So things like drugs, breaking the fast in public during Ramadan, and so on, can now be punishment through fines or imprisonments. It’s good step but it’s not as revolutionary as it may sound.
Read 6 tweets
30 Apr
The symbol of #Assad regime’s corruption, Assad’s cousin, does something unheard of: he goes live on Facebook to discuss recent news that Assad, with pressure from Russia, seized cousins’ assets to get them to pay $3 billions. With no access, he pleads Assad to hear him out.
In the video, Rami Makhlouf says:

• my telecom company, with ~11 million users, pays 12 billion Syrian pounds in tax + 50% of profits
• a committee by Assad claimed he’s involved in tax fraud & must pay more: 125-130 billion
• I’m willing to pay but not all of the sum at once
Apart from the plea, the remarks are quite interesting.

He says when he claimed he abandoned his businesses & turned his wealth to humanitarian work after the 2011 uprising, it was to take a bullet for Assad & to not embarrass him. This is the result of that move, he says.
Read 12 tweets
28 Apr
Shout “maximum pressure isn’t working” all day, but that’s just a sound bite. Reality is that it’s working for now & can work in terms of outcome if the policy is sustained & not disrupted midway.

+Iran is giving away oil to Syria, which can’t access its own oil in eastern Syria
One core reason for maximum pressure on Iran and Syria is not necessarily to convince Assad to reform his regime, but to force Russia to consider the costs of Assad not reforming. Unless this is Russia propaganda, it sure looks like it’s working.

Same for pressure on Iran itself
Iran’s oil exports to Syria have increased substantially in recent weeks and currently several cargoes have reached the Baniyas port in Syria.

Read 3 tweets
21 Mar
In many countries across the world, people are giving a round of applause to medical personnel in a show of gratitude during #CoronavirusOutbreak.

Here is a list of videos from different places applauding medical personnel

People applaud medical personnel.

People applaud medical personnel

Read 7 tweets
1 Mar
Turkey is not stopping. The Syrian and Iranian forces are paralyzed without Russian air cover. Lots of myths and bad takes are being destroyed in northwestern Syria
A mere week ago, Turkey seemed on the way out in Syria. At least to some observers. Now it’s not just keeping its presence. When this is over, Turkey might get more than it had before, in terms of lasting deals.
Read 18 tweets
27 Feb
All correct. But to add: Turkey has really no choice but to continue on this path, despite such unfortunate incidents. Standing down in Idlib will be the end of its presence in the more strategic areas it controls close to its borders. The refugee issue remains secondary to that.
Read 25 tweets
17 Feb
A few quick thoughts on #Turkey’s calculations and limitations on #Idlib, #Syria. #thread
It’s easy to get sidetracked by daily events about Turkey’s real concerns and priority. But we have about two decades, years before the Syrian conflict, to understand #Turkey’s thinking/approach. Specifically, I mean its approach in Iraq after 2003 (not the decades-long PKK war).
First, Turkey has never cared about #Idlib as a strategic objective. Idlib became more important as a real estate when the Turkish forces seized Kurdish areas in NW Syria in 2018 & because of the deepened US presence in the NE post-2016.

It can let Idlib go but not like so.
Read 13 tweets
27 Jan
Since it's become a tradition, I'll sum up the new statement from the ISIS spokesman although it says almost nothing -- much less anything new. But it does emphasize a couple of relevant messages:
The recording could have been part 2 of the statement that immediately followed the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Most of it went over the history of ISIS to establish how ISIS has seen this movie before, and that any proclamation about its demise are premature.
That part is objectively accurate: ISIS is still a major threat & has what it takes to endure & re-emerge. Currently, as I keep saying, its biggest achievement is that it has survived the upheavals it faced in recent years & kept its "organism" intact. Vital to count that in.
Read 15 tweets
21 Jan
A very interesting reporting from the always excellent @martinchulov, about the identity of the new Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi, citing officials from two intelligence services.


A few comments in the following tweets:
@martinchulov The Guardian's reporting confirms that the man behind the nom de guerre of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi is Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi. He's sometimes identified as Abdullah Qardash or Hajj Abdullah.

But there is a lot of confusion about him, two points in particular:
1) is he really an Arab, or a Turkoman (thus impossible to be a descendent of the Hashemite clan of prophet Mohammed, as he and ISIS claim)

2) is he the same person as Abdullah Qardash. People like Hisham al-Hashemi have been saying they’re different people, one was dead.
Read 13 tweets
8 Jan
Big -- exactly as we said, the US was informed about an Iranian attack by the Iraqis. The Iranians actually told the Iraqi PM about it, and the Iraqis passed the message to the US.

The statement in the next tweet:
Official statement from the Iraqi prime minister:

"Shortly after midnight, we received a formal verbal message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of Qassem Suleimani has begun or will begin shortly, and that the strike will be ...
... the strike will be limited to places where the US army is present in Iraq, without specifying the locations. Exactly at the same time, the US side called us as missiles were falling on the part where the US forces are housed in Ain al-Assad in Anbar & Harir in Erbil & others
Read 9 tweets
8 Jan
Offially confirmed by the US:

Iraqi casualties at US airbase following Iranian missile attack.
Pentagon: Two Iraq bases that house US troops targeted by missiles from Iran dlvr.it/RMcypL
Read 15 tweets
7 Jan
Pro-Iran media is reporting that Iran has fired ballistic missile into US bases inside Iraq.

Simultaneously, a senior US military source in Iraq tells Fox News they’re “under missile attack from Iran, “cruise missiles or short range ballistic missiles”, “All over the country”!
Hizbollah says “vengeance begins”

Social media videos purportedly of missiles in the sky fired from Iran.
These reports of rocket attacks are coming in at the same time, from the Iranians and a senior official speaking to Fox News from Iraq.

Let’s wait and see what the US and Iraqis officially say.
Read 11 tweets
6 Jan
Big update — The US military informs Iraq of its plan for an “onward movement” of US troops in response to the requests from the Iraqi parliament and prime minister, “in due deference to the sovereignty of Iraq“. Via @LizSly
Mark my word: this is not how it sounds. It’s NOT a withdrawal, it’s a drawdown to the pre-2014 levels, *at best*.

People will laugh at this but — as before — it’ll become clear pretty soon that this won’t really change much.

Who wants to bet?
The problem with this kind of assertions, I realize, is that people will laugh at them but when they turn out to be right, people won’t say anything. And the cycle repeats.

Remember the leaving Syria episode?
Read 18 tweets
5 Jan
Such an important & insightful story by @MazMHussain, using internal Iranian documents.

“Secret Iranian spy cables show how Qassim Suleimani wielded his enormous power in Iraq” interc.pt/2FjBW6t

(I’ll post about 5 extracts I think are super interesting)
“While the Iranian-led war against the Islamic State was raging, Iranian spies privately expressed concern that the brutal tactics favored by Suleimani and his Iraqi proxies were laying the groundwork for major blowback against the Iranian presence Iraq.”

This is key, esp. for regime insiders to say it:

“In some documents, intelligence officers criticize Suleimani for alienating Sunni Arab communities and helping to create the circumstances that justified a renewed American military presence in Iraq.”

Read 8 tweets