Author: Hassan

Hassan Hassan is a resident fellow at TIMEP focusing on Syria and Iraq. He is the author, with Michael Weiss, of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, a New York Times bestseller, and was previously an associate fellow at Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Program in London and a research associate at the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi. He is a columnist for the National in Abu Dhabi, where he previously worked as deputy opinion editor. Working in journalism and research since 2008, he focuses on Syria, Iraq, and the Gulf States, and he studies Sunni and Shia movements in the region. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and the New York Times, among others. He has also written for the European Council on Foreign Relations on the Gulf states. Mr. Hassan received an M.A. in international relations from the University of Nottingham. You can follow him on Twitter: @hxhassan.

The Great Game in Northern Syria
Turkish Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakalli, commander of Turkish special forces in Jarablus, celebrates his forces' victory there on Thursday. (Circulating on Twitter)

Almost exactly a year after Russia intervened militarily to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Turkish tanks rolled into the Syrian border city of Jarablus on Tuesday to help anti-government rebels expel the Islamic State from one of its most strategic strongholds. The operation, which drove out the militants eight hours after the battle began, is part of a new Turkish policy in northern Syria, the most complex military and political terrain

Read more
Al-Qaeda Steps Back to Let Nusra Move Forward in Syria
Osama bin Laden, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani,  and Ayman al-Zawahiri (Illustration by Varsha Sundar for TIMEP)

In a well-publicized announcement on Thursday, Jabhat al-Nusra announced that it was changing its name in order to distance itself from the al-Qaeda brand. The maneuver was a well-executed public relations move, having convinced some segment of observers and even jihadists of the veracity of the split between the groups, but it was neither substantial nor unprecedented for the parent organization. The decision and their moves to publicize the transition

Read more
Jihadist Legacy Still Shapes Ahrar al-Sham
Ahrar al-Sham deputy leader Ali al-Omar (al-Amawi News)

Over the past five years in Syria, Ahrar al-Sham has emerged as an important political and religious experiment. As one of the most powerful groups in Syria, Ahrar al-Sham has struggled to reconcile the legacy of many of its founders as jihadi veterans with the need for an acceptable political discourse in the war-ravaged country. As the group engages cautiously in the political process for a transition, it is also important to understand whether

Read more
Threats from Two Fronts: Al-Qaeda and IS Define Their Strategies
Abu Muhammad al-Adnani (BBC) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (Flashpoint)

In the space of two weeks, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State released separate audio statements that merit comparison. Both statements center on Syria as the emerging nucleus of global jihad, each marking a new way its respective organization operates or sees its long-term future. Each message includes an explicit attack on the other group, a sign that differences between the two are deepening, contrary to speculation that the twin giants of global

Read more
An Opportunity in Aleppo
BN-GZ318_syria0_J_20150217063546

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, is once again the center of media attention. Two weeks of devastating airstrikes against the rebel-held parts of the city ended on Wednesday after the United States and Russia agreed on a new cessation of hostilities in the city. However, clashes continued in nearby rural areas in southern Aleppo province, and the government and the rebels traded accusations that the truce has already been violated by the other side.

Read more
Why the Syrian regime’s recapture of Palmyra was a political move
palmyra

The capture of Palmyra this week was a clear attempt by the regime of Bashar Al Assad to rewrite history. Damascus and its allies presented the victory as part of the wider campaign to strike extremists in Syria. In truth, they wanted a victory to strengthen the regime’s political position in the peace talks, after a relentless Russian air campaign helped Mr Al Assad’s forces secure its territory and reorganise its forces to launch offensives

Read more
Russia’s Exit from Syria Highlights Assad’s Limitations
(ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Five years after the uprising in Syria began, a renewed chance to steer the conflict in a less violent trajectory presents itself. Tensions have mounted between moderate rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra in northern Syria, and residents demonstrated in support of the rebels against the al-Qaeda affiliate; the Free Syrian Army has recently launched an offensive against the Islamic State in southern Syria; and Russia has announced that it will start withdrawing

Read more
Five Years Later, Libya is Becoming a Jihadist Academy
libya jihadist banner

Five years after the rebellion against the rule of Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya has become the center of a rivalry between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda over the leadership of global jihad, a struggle that should be the focus of intelligence and policy practitioners in this region and beyond. Seen purely in military terms, the strength of Libyan franchises of Islamic State is commonly exaggerated. The group is still a minor player among the constellations

Read more
Predestined for Failure? A Preview to the Syria Talks in Geneva
peace-talks_2798579b

Five years ago Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the Wall Street Journal that his country would be spared the popular uprisings that had taken place in Tunisia and Egypt. “Whenever you have an uprising, it is self-evident to say that you have anger, but this anger feeds on desperation,” he said, calling on fellow Arab rulers to do more to accommodate their people’s rising political and economic aspirations. Assad’s unwillingness

Read more

    TIMEP on Twitter

    TIMEP on Facebook