Iraq

Spotlight on Iran (February 9, 2020 – February 23, 2020)

Senior Iranian officials avoided commenting regarding reports on deaths among the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in a strike, carried out in the Damascus area on February 13, which was attributed to Israel. Another fighter of the IRGC was killed in Syria, likely in a strike of an anti-tank guided missile deployed by Syrian rebels in the Aleppo area. In mid-February, the Speaker of the Iranian Majlis, Ali Larijani, conducted an official visit to Syria and Lebanon. Further evidence for the growing challenges facing Iran’s efforts to increase its economic clout in the region.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (February 13-19, 2020)

This week, the Syrian army’s campaign for the takeover of Idlib, with Russian air support and political backing, centered on the western neighborhoods of Aleppo and the rural areas west and northwest of the city. Because of the fighting, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons continue to flee the battle zones, mainly to areas near the Turkish border. This week, nearly 150,000 displaced persons reportedly fled. Turkish President Erdoğan and other senior Turkish officials continue to threaten to exert force against the Syrian army if it does not withdraw to the area where it was deployed at the time of the Sochi Conference (2018) by the end of February 2020. This week, ISIS continued its intensive activity in the Euphrates Valley and other areas in Syria. On the other hand, in Iraq, ISIS carried out relatively low-intensity activity.
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The Killing of Qasem Soleimani is a Major Loss to Iran, But May Serve as an Opportunity to Reexamine Iran’s Modus Operandi in the Region

The killing of the Commander of the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Qasem Soleimani, in early 2020, dealt a serious blow to Iran’s ability to promote its strategic goals in the Middle East.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (February 6-12, 2020)

This week, the Syrian army, with Russian air support, continued its attack on the Idlib region and managed to take over the city of Saraqib The Syrian army is now preparing to take over the city of Idlib. Violent friction continues between the Syrian army and Turkish forces in the area where the Syrian forces operate. The Syrian General Staff announced that the Turkish attacks would not prevent the Syrian army from continuing its military operation in the Idlib area and Aleppo. This week saw decrease in its activity in the Iraqi arena. Outside of these two “core countries,” ISIS’s Sinai Province carried out intensive activity.
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Spotlight on Iran (January 26, 2020 – February 9, 2020)

The issuance of President Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” aroused harsh criticism in Iran, expectedly.. During the ongoing battles between Syrian regime forces and its backers against the rebels in Idlib and western and southern Aleppo, an officer with the Qods Force was killed. Against the backdrop of political developments in Iraq and Lebanon, Iran welcomed the formation of a new government in Lebanon
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (January 30 – February 5, 2020)

The Syrian army, with Russian air support, continued to advance towards Idlib. The Syrian army’s operation in an area where there are Turkish observation posts, and hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled from the battle zones (some towards the border with Turkey), have created friction on the ground and diplomatic tension between Turkey and Syria (which enjoys Russian support). On February 2, 2020, a Muslim terrorist, a released prisoner with a jihadist ideology, carried out a stabbing attack in south London
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Iraq

The Republic of Iraq (الجمهورية العراقية – Al-Jumhūrīyya Al-‘Irāqīyya) borders with Turkey in the north, Syria and Jordan in the west, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the south, and Iran in the east. Iraq has a population of over 31 million, the vast majority of whom are Arabs (97% Muslim, 65% Shiite and 35% Sunni). In northeastern Iraq there is an autonomous Kurdish entity known as Iraqi Kurdistan. There are no relations between the State of Israel and Iraq, and Iraq refuses to recognize Israel.

After the Iraq war, the country was run by a coalition of countries that had invaded Iraq, headed by the United States. In 2005, civilian control was transferred to the interim Iraqi government that was appointed after a general election for a temporary parliament, which was held for the first time in the history of Iraq. In 2006, a permanent Shiite government was formed, and thus a change of government took place in Iraq, which had been in the hands of the Sunnis up to that time. In December 2011, the last American soldiers stationed in Iraq left the country.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, a branch of Al-Qaeda was established in Iraq, headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. This branch later evolved into ISIS. This branch, which enjoyed widespread support among the Sunni population in Iraq, carried out terrorist attacks directed against Shiite civilians and against the Iraqi regime. In 2014, in the city of Mosul, ISIS declared the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate and took control of vast areas in western and northwestern Iraq, with the intention of taking control of the Iraqi capital Baghdad as well. In the years that followed, through efforts by the Iraqi security forces and local militias supported by the United States, these areas were liberated and ISIS slowly began to lose its power.