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.

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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Russia’s Exit from Syria Highlights Assad’s Limitations

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

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Five Years Later, Libya is Becoming a Jihadist Academy

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

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Predestined for Failure? A Preview to the Syria Talks in Geneva

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

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