Author: Hassan

Hassan Hassan is a senior fellow at TIMEP focusing on militant Islam, Syria, and Iraq. He was previously an associate fellow at Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Program in London, a research associate at the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi, and a deputy opinion editor for the National, the leading English language daily in the Middle East. Working in journalism and research since 2008, Mr. Hassan focuses on Syria, Iraq, and the Gulf States, and he has written extensively on Sunni and Shia movements in the region, including for think-tanks such as the European Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Chatham House, and the Brookings Institution.

Mr. Hassan is the author, with Michael Weiss, of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, a New York Times bestseller chosen as one of the Times of London’s Best Books of 2015 and the Wall Street Journal’s top ten books on terrorism. He is a weekly columnist for the National and has contributed to the Guardian, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, the Financial Times, and the New York Times, among others. He has appeared on flagship television programs, such as the O'Reilly Factor, Amanpour and the Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. Mr. Hassan received an M.A. in international relations from the University of Nottingham. You can follow him on Twitter: @hxhassan.

Iran in the Islamic State’s Crosshairs

Last Wednesday morning, five Sunni militants attacked the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Iranian state media reported that 17 were killed in the attacks, including all five assailants. The Tehran attacks were separate but simultaneous, and the Islamic State immediately claimed responsibility; according to al-Naba, a weekly Islamic State newsletter produced in Arabic,

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Focus on Military Solutions Perpetuates the Threat of Jihadism

This article was first published on, and is reprinted here with their kind permission. Sixteen years into the war on terror, al-Qaeda presents an ever-greater threat to the world, and especially to the region, in terms of strength, number, and relevance. The group has more followers than it did and has ensconced itself in insurgencies across the region. Then there is the Islamic State, which emerged in the wake of the invasion

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The Rush for Raqqa Overlooks ISIS’ Next Moves

If you believe reporting coming out of the group’s capital in Syria over the past few weeks, Islamic State members are nowhere to be seen in Raqqa. American officials, local activists, and fleeing residents have claimed that many of the group’s leaders and those in charge of running the city either fled or disappeared, relocating to safe havens down the Euphrates river. While U.S.-backed Kurdish forces are advancing on Raqqa, and indeed gains

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A Breakthrough for Russia and the Regime in Syria

More than a year into the Russian intervention in Syria, the long-term impact of the involvement has remained constant since the first two months of the campaign: the removal of Bashar al-Assad’s government has become untenable. The Russian campaign has been more successful than many observers anticipated in ensuring the regime does not lose. It has also been too limited to turn the tables and enable a regime victory, an outcome defined as the

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The Great Game in Northern Syria

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

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Al-Qaeda Steps Back to Let Nusra Move Forward in Syria

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

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Jihadist Legacy Still Shapes Ahrar al-Sham

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

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Threats from Two Fronts: Al-Qaeda and IS Define Their Strategies

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

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An Opportunity in Aleppo

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.

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

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

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