The existence of the Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates is important for the world order to succeed in deluding us into thinking that this Islamist human savagery — which has committed the most heinous and unimaginable crimes — is threatening humanity.
It was also important for IS to threaten a region — known over the years for its pluralism — to justify calls for Western intervention, not for the sake of domination but for the sake of civilization. IS was also important for the world to forget the controversies and tragedies of capitalism and for the people of the Levant to forget that the West has already led invasions in the name of religion, civilization and human rights, along with other pretexts. It was important for IS to be created for the people of the region to forget their demands to live with dignity and justice in the face of tyrants and dictatorships.
A global alliance was formed to counter terrorism, incorporating conflicting parties that had, until recently, been at each other’s throats. This alliance includes the West, Russia, Turkey, Iran, the Arab dictatorship governments, secular forces and revolutionary forces. It is not enough to be against IS and its affiliates and to fight them, but one should go out of one's way to show good faith.
IS is committing various crimes, from murder to destruction and displacement. It has displaced minorities with historical rights in the region, whose right to survive is as important as their historical presence — a presence that preceded Islam. The loss of pluralism in the region is as tragic as IS’ other crimes. Pluralism can only exist under the state, where an individual can live uniquely, face the state without a religious or ethnic mediator and face God as a believer who chooses to live by his own identity without being categorized under religious affiliations.
Clashes have flared in the city of Zabadani, located in Rif Dimashq, as Jabhat al-Nusra and other affiliated factions made progress in the region. Meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) began mobilizing its troops to attack the airport of the northeastern city of Deir ez-Zor, and Jabhat al-Nusra is gearing up to target Mhardeh, a Christian-majority town in the countryside of Hama.
The escalation of shelling and air raids on Zabadani followed a series of confrontations and battles over the past two days. According to a local source, “Fierce battles are taking place in the eastern mountains near the Barada Valley and the Shallah region, as fighters managed to take control of the army checkpoints.”
“There was an agreement to try to reach a truce, [but it] was breached within three hours as gunmen refused to stop the clashes,” he said.
A source close to the militants said, “The military operation is led by the united army of Zabadani to break the siege on the city, as all efforts for a settlement have been curbed at the last minute.”
Militants have controlled Zabadani for more than two years. Most of the city’s residents live in the nearby towns of Madaya and Bloudan, which are linked to the Barada Valley down to Qudsayya and al-Hamah, until the Qalamoun Mountains.
The constant eruption that Libya has faced since the fall of the regime of former President Moammar Gadhafi appears like an inevitable chain, interspersed with periods of violent acceleration in this eruption. The fighting between rival militias for control of the main airport in the capital could contribute to pushing diplomatic missions to leave the country in a hurry. No central authority remains in Libya, and the state of generalized and extremely violent chaos between rival groups inside the country could transform the country into a center for regional instability.
The current stage of the crisis is characterized by the emergence of regional bases on the ground that are joined around tribal and clan affiliations, which — at times — are jihadist affiliations as well. The warring militias are not seeking to gain control of the central authority as occurs in every political process; rather, they seek to acquire infrastructure so that they can "secure" it in exchange for financial gain. This is in addition to the goal of establishing their presence as effective political parties. The rebels and "revolutionaries" have transformed into militiamen who only owe allegiance to local leaders, whether tribal, religious or both. Thus, the control of seaports, airports, oil fields and export sites has become a locus of bloody confrontations that have led to the deaths of dozens of civilians.
Military developments in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights have drawn attention away from developments in the majority-Christian town of Mhardeh, in the countryside of Hama. The Syrian army expanded its control around the town, while Jabhat al-Nusra and armed Islamic groups waged a new battle in Quneitra, and factions in eastern Ghouta decided to unite under one leadership — a move that raised many questions.
Opposition field sources said that armed groups gained control of the old city of Quneitra and the Quneitra crossing point with the occupied Golan Heights. No official comment was issued on the events. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement, “Fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic battalions took control of the Quneitra crossing after violent clashes with the army.”
Jabhat al-Nusra, along with Fallujah-Houran Brigade, Syria Revolutionaries Front, Saraya al-Jihad, Bayt al-Maqdis and Ahrar al-Sham, began a battle called “the real promise” to seize control of the devastated city of Quneitra and the crossing connecting it with the Golan Heights. The Israeli army announced that one of its soldiers was injured by Syrian fire, pointing out that the Israeli army replied by bombing two army positions in the Syrian Golan Heights.
The unexpected end and thunderous fall of the Tabaqa Military Airport in Raqqa to the Islamic State (IS) has reshuffled the cards on the ground and opened the eastern and central parts of Syria to endless, dangerous possibilities. Meanwhile, the Christian majority city of Mhardeh, in the countryside of Hama, was under the fiercest offensives by Jabhat al-Nusra several days ago, amid fears that the scenario of [the capture of] Maaloula could be repeated.
Regardless of how you describe what happened at the military airport, whether it was to retreat and regroup the Syrian troops outside the airport, a withdrawal and defeat, the inevitable truth is that Raqqa province as a whole has become devoid of any presence of the Syrian army, which is a precedent since the start of the Syrian war three and a half years ago. This gives IS greater freedom of movement and mobility and allows it to secure supply routes between Mosul and the city of Raqqa.
The fall of the military airport is expected to result in dangerous repercussions on several areas, stretching from the countryside of Hama — which is, according to estimations, probably the next target for IS — through the Deir ez-Zor military airport — which is severely endangered following the loss of the 24th air defense brigade — to some Iraqi areas where fierce battles are taking place. IS may now be able to bring additional fighters after it managed to get rid of the threats posed by the aircraft of the Tabaqa Military Airport, by targeting its fighter jets and inflicting great damage to them.
Parliamentary elections, which are being prepared in Egypt now, consist of the third and last milestone in the “road map” that was declared by the armed forces when former President Mohammed Morsi was ousted.
Yet, this milestone is different from previous ones, at least when it comes to political alliances among parties. The constitutional referendum (January 2014) and presidential elections (May 2014) have seen a satisfactory degree of consensus and partnership between most of the forces that took part in the July 3 coalition that overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood, following the June 30 revolution. The competition among those forces was not the norm, even in the presidential elections where there was not a real competition between presidential candidates (Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahi) as the final election’s results have shown.
In terms of parliamentary elections, the coalition opposing the Brotherhood has been divided into rival alliances, where each seeks to reap the benefits of its participation in the confrontation against the Islamic regime. Obviously, any party will necessarily have as its adversary a former ally.
In the past months, the political forces that were united on July 3, 2013, to bring down the Brotherhood regime succeeded in putting off differences and contradictions. Yet, with the preparations of parliamentary elections, a struggle for seats has started to loom on the horizon.
The second attack launched by the Islamic State (IS) against the Tabaqa Military Airport in Raqqa countryside was a major failure and great embarrassment, less than 48 hours after the failure of the first attack. Despite the risks surrounding the airport in light of IS’ insistence to storm it, the airport's ability to withstand is strong, as the two recent attacks were countered due to recent reinforcements and fortifications.
The second attack was launched about 10 p.m. Aug. 20, with two suicide attacks targeting the main entrance of the airport. There were conflicting reports about the name of the first suicide bomber. While some media outlets indicated that his name was Abu Hajer al-Shami, media sources close to IS confirmed that his name is Abu Abdullah al-Jazrawi. The second bomber is Abu Islam al-Jazrawi whose real name is Mohammed Majid al-Saheem.
According to the usual scenario, the bombings aimed at creating a hole in the airport’s enclosure to allow the infiltration of a troop that will act as the main attacking force composed of about 200 extremists, half Syrians and half foreign fighters. This troop’s mission was to transfer clashes inside the airport to sow chaos within the ranks of the Syrian army soldiers and mislead them to believe that the airport has fallen in their hands.
The battle for control of the Syrian army’s last remaining base in Raqqa province, the Tabaqa Military Airport, is underway in a confrontation that promises to be extremely difficult for both sides.
A suicide bombing carried out by a member of the Islamic State (IS) on the perimeter of the airport was followed by a wide-scale offensive that began on the night of Aug. 19. This came after many probing attacks from IS to test the resolve and strength of the garrison, an indication that the battle has entered a critical phase.
Clashes subsided somewhat yesterday morning [Aug. 20], after the first wave of attacks by the extremist organization failed, only to intensify anew in the afternoon, when IS re-attempted to breach the airport perimeter, leading to intense fighting.
Reporters affiliated with IS claim that the organization’s fighters succeeded in downing a warplane above the airport and that they managed to take control of an unspecified Syrian army position near the airport, believed to be one of the security checkpoints spread around the airport. In response, warplanes launched several strikes against IS troop formations and a number of villages, such as al-Safsaf, where IS supply warehouses are located.
The situation in Syria's Idlib countryside is heading toward clashes between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Syria Revolutionaries Front. Although Jabhat al-Nusra managed last July to establish several Sharia courts in different regions, the UN Security Council’s resolution to impose constraints on its financing and armament might result in isolating Jabhat al-Nusra from its surroundings and encouraging some factions to fight it, benefiting from the UN cover.
The Syria Revolutionaries Front, led by Jamal Maarouf, issued a strongly worded statement two days ago, threatening Jabhat al-Nusra with war if it doesn’t withdraw its men from Jabal al-Zawiya regions. The front also promised Jabhat al-Nusra a fate similar to that of the Islamic State (IS), which withdrew its men from the region around eight months ago, at the onset of the battles between the jihadist factions.
The statement also accused Jabhat al-Nusra of leaving the battle fronts empty for the Syrian regime in Aleppo, Murak and Wadi Deif and of being preoccupied with controlling the border with Turkey.
The statement read: “You left Aleppo and handed Deir ez-Zor to IS, then you went to Darkush, Salqin, Harem and Azmarin and deployed yourselves on the Turkish-Syrian border,” instead of fulfilling the call to counter corruption and corrupters by heading to Fawaa, Kafriya, Nubl and Zahraa (besieged towns).
The Islamic State (IS) has achieved a rapid and surprising advance in the countryside of northern Aleppo.
Several strategic villages fell into the grip of IS, which marked its territory in the village of Dabeq, which is considered a symbol for the regime. IS also has its eye set on Azaz, its former stronghold. Meanwhile, the factions fighting the group are shocked, while others have withdrawn and disappeared. The battles stopped at Marea city border, where the cards were being reshuffled amid speculation that a decisive and bloody battle would take place in the region — a battle that would also decide the fate of the other fighting factions.
There have been many changes in the countryside of northern Aleppo which has been caused by IS fronts. Moreover, this organization constitutes an existential threat for the factions fighting it and for the families of militants. Fear of massacres that might claim the lives of thousands of people has risen, especially since these battles happened after the IS massacres of the people of the Sheaitat tribe in the Deir ez-Zor countryside. As a result, a spirit of vengeance prevailed over the organization’s battles, thus making yesterday’s foe a temporary friend.
In Marea city, which recently appeared as the most important stronghold for the armed factions fighting IS, thousands of militants from Jaysh al-Islam, Jaysh al-Mujahedeen, Liwa al-Tawhid, Ahrar Souria, Noureddine al-Zinki and the Kurdish front have rallied, and militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) later joined them. They (PKK) came from Afreen region, which was besieged by the same factions until recently. Meanwhile, Jabhat al-Nusra, which was active around the region, disappeared.
In His Name
I take refuge in Allah from the stoned devil. In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be upon the Seal of Prophets, our Master and Prophet, Abi Al Qassem Mohammad, on his chaste and pure Household, on his chosen companions and on all messengers and prophets.
Peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.
We meet today on this dear annual anniversary of the historic epic of steadfastness, resistance, heroism, and victory.
On this dear anniversary, we must renew our praise to Allah Al Mighty on pushing away calamities, strengthening our hearts, guiding our minds, and the great victory He bestowed on Lebanon, the Lebanese people, the Lebanese resistance, and the Lebanese Army, and in fact on the entire nation. This is a divine blessing bestowed on the entire
The Syrian army waited until yesterday evening [Aug. 14] to announce that it fully controls the town of Al-Maliha in the region of Damascus, after 130 days of fighting and hours after the news had already spread in the media.
The army waited before making the announcement because of the complex task of combing the tunnel networks and the many booby-traps in residential buildings, where snipers hid until their final moments.
Even before the army’s announcement, pro-government media outlets announced that the army-Hezbollah alliance took control of Al-Maliha, while state television announced that significant progress was made in the town, in a reference to the success of the army’s tactic to force the gunmen, most notably from Jaish al-Islam and Jabhat al-Nusra, to withdraw through the only outlet left open: a 300-meter path to east Ghouta, specifically to the towns of Jesrin and Zibdin.
It seems that the army was right to be cautious. Hours after the media said that the operation had ended, an explosion caused a building to collapse, killing at least two soldiers from the engineering and demining units. That building was among dozens that were being combed.
Nouakchott was simply a dream for the generation that participated in the establishment of the state of Mauritania.
The Mauritanian government’s first meeting was held in this city, during the French occupation, on July 12, 1957. In 1958, Moktar Ould Daddah, Mauritania’s first president, laid the foundation stone as he declared the city the capital of Mauritania. Charles de Gaulle, then president of France, was attending. On July 24, 1957, before laying the city’s foundation stone, a decree was issued to declare it the capital of the Mauritanian region, instead of Saint-Louis, Senegal.
Nouakchott residents only numbered a few hundred back then, and the city lacked even the slightest elements of a modern city. It was a small village on the Atlantic Ocean with a desert climate, sitting on a land with no water.
In his memoirs, President Ould Daddah explained the reason behind picking Nouakchott as the capital. He wrote: "Since there was no adequate place in the center of Mauritania, Nouakchott was unquestionably the right city. Despite the distance that separates it from the eastern and northern regions, this city has several significant advantages. It is less than 200 kilometers [124 miles] away from the river. … The fact that Nouakchott is situated on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean should make it a seaport. This would be a great advantage for the future capital. The city of Nouadhibou also has this same advantage, but Nouakchott is better, since it is neither close to the north nor isolated."
The city's founding generation expected residents of Nouakchott to reach 20,000 by 1975. However, climate change begged to differ. Mauritania was hit by drought at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. Living became impossible in many villages, and their residents were displaced to Nouakchott. The capital's population reached 130,000 in 1957. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the population reached half a million in approximately a decade. Thus, the capital started its journey with chaos, without any consideration for modern city plans. Signs of poverty increased and the city spirit diminished, mainly due to the Desert War (1975-91) and the overthrow of the civil order in a 1978 military coup.