Jordanian Salafism and the Jihad in Syria

Kirk Sowell comes back on the show to talk about his new paper Jordanian Salafism and the Jihad in Syria. We covered a lot of information including:

  • What is Salafism and Salafi-Jihadism?
  • Who is Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, and how did he come to play a central role in these issues?
  • The split between Maqdisi and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
  • Jordanian Salafi-Jihadists turn towards Syria and Jabhat al-Nusra
  • The effects of the ISIS-JaN split on Jordanian Salafi-Jihadists
  • What the Jordanian government lets the Jordanian Salafi-Jihadists do, and why
  • Maqdisi’s role in the efforts to free Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh
  • What could be next for Maqdisi and the Jordanian Salafi-Jihadists

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ISIS in North Africa as War Against Them Grows

Hassan Hassan comes on the show to talk about issues related to the fight against ISIS. Topics we covered include:

  • ISIS growth in North Africa
  • Where ISIS is winning, and where it is losing
  • Tactical vs. strategic effects of airstrikes on ISIS
  • Influence of Management of Savegery on ISIS actions and propaganda
  • Importance of local forces and tribes in fighting ISIS
  • Challenges to building those local forces
  • ISIS is setting the agenda, but the world needs to change that

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The Shiite Jihad in Syria and Its Regional Effects

Phillip Smyth comes back on the show to talk about The Shiite Jihad in Syria and Its Regional Effects, his recent monograph for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Topics covered include:

  • Why Shiite jihadi groups don’t receive nearly as much attention as Sunni ones
  • Recruitment methods used by Shiite militia groups
  • Risks faced by not addressing the issue of Shiite jihadi groups
  • Phillip’s policy recommendations presented in his monograph

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India’s Middle East Foreign Policy

Shashank Joshi comes on the show to talk about India’s Middle East foreign policy. Topics we covered include:

  • Importance of remittances from Indians living in the Middle East
  • India’s relationship with Israel
  • Why India sees an “advantage in obscurity” in deciding its Middle East strategies
  • Indian hostages in Iraq and India’s inability to effectively respond to the situation
  • India’s need for a “Look West” policy in addition to “Look East”
  • India’s relationship with Iran and Saudi Arabia

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Continuing Problems for the Iraqi Security Forces

Nate Rabkin comes back on the show to talk about the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). We discussed the problems that were exposed by the ISIS advance this summer, efforts over the past few months to rebuild the ISF, the importance of Shiite militias in Iraq, the lack of cooperation between the ISF and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, what US airstrikes and military advisors mean for the ISF, current problems within the ISF, and more.

Nate is the managing editor of Inside Iraqi Politics, an excellent newsletter with in-depth information and analysis on Iraq.

Sources of Turkish Conduct – Part 2

Aaron Stein joins me for part 2 of our discussion on Turkey’s Middle East foreign policy. You can listen to part 1 here.

In this episode we talked about Turkey’s foreign policy towards Syria and Iraq, from the time the AKP came to power in 2002 to the current crisis.

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Kurdish Independence

Michael Knights comes back on the show to discuss issues related to Kurdish independence. Topics covered include:

  • Kurdish autonomy through the 1990’s and 2000’s
  • The Kurdish economy and the importance of oil
  • Unity and cooperation amongst various Kurdish political parties and organizations
  • The potential future importance of Kurdish natural gas
  • How the international community has approached the issue of Kurdish independence
  • What the future could hold for Kurdish political and economic independence

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Khorasan, Jabhat al-Nusra, ISIS…

Aaron Zelin comes back on the show to discuss the Khorasan group, US-led airstrikes on Jabhat al-Nusra targets in addition to ISIS, the potential for JaN-ISIS reconciliation, jihadis in Gaza, and more.

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Kobani Crisis & Airstrikes in Syria

Michael Stephens comes on the show to discuss the recent ISIS attack on Kobani, the US-led airstrikes in Syria, long-term issues related to the conflict in Syria, and much more.

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Update on the Conflict in Iraq

Joel Wing comes back on the show to discuss recent developments in Iraq. We talked about IS executions, Iraq’s economic problems, Kurdish and Iraqi forces ability to work together, shelling of civilian areas, and more.

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After a couple weeks of traveling the show is now back to releasing new episodes regularly. To make sure you always have great shows to listen to you should also subscribe to Sources & Methods, a great new podcast that launched recently “in which interesting people doing interesting things get to talk about the what, how and why of what they do.”