Al-Baqiri al-Najafi: The curious story of the fall of hashd’s Walter Mitty “commander”

The last few days have seen a curious story unfold in Iraq culminating in the arrest of al-Baqiri al-Najafi after he was apparently exposed as an impostor pretending to be a commander in al-hashd al-shaabi. Al-Najafi was apparently rumbled when Iraqis began to question the quality of his written Arabic as he described various ‘official’ visits

Updated: Muqtada al-Sadr wears military uniform: Some thoughts on the secularisation of Muqtada al-Sadr

Update: 19/07/2016 Following from my post providing some analysis of Muqtada al-Sadr’s recent appearance in military garb, @toaf kindly forwarded some fascinating photos he recently took in Iraq. These photos indicate a strategy of integrating a military, nationalist-secular symbology alongside images of Sadr’s religious heritage (Baqir and Sadeq al-Sadr) in campaigns in various parts of Iraq. These

Fallujah and the Public Sphere: English / Arabic Comparison, Part I

This is the first of a series of posts in which I will present analysis on data collected on the networked-public sphere surrounding the ongoing battle for Fallujah. I’ve been messing about with some data mining, analysis, and visualisation techniques and thought a comparison of how the English vs Arabic language twitter spheres have responded to

Hadi al-Amiri in apparent volte-face on role of hashd in storming Fallujah

The front page story of Rudaw Arabic is reporting on a statement made by Hadi al-Amiri, Commander of Badr Organisation and senior leader in al-hashd al-shaabi, which appears to represent a complete reversal of his previous commitment that the hashd militias would only secure the perimeter of Fallujah and would not enter the city, leaving that task to

Another ‘interesting’ Qassem Soleimani photo surfaces

Another interesting photo of Qassem Soleimani has been circulating, I picked it up from Rudaw’s facebook feed where the news agency was asking its followers to provide their ‘explanation’ of the scene which depicts Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (near) sitting beside Qassem Soleimani (far). Al-Muhandis is the operational commander of the Popular Mobilisation Committee and is thought

Who is leading / participating in Iraq’s Fallujah Operation?: A closer look at the ‘Iranian-backed Shi’i militias’ narrative

  France 24 hosted an interesting debate yesterday (30/05/2016) on the current military operations against ISIS in Fallujah and Raqqa. The guests included: journalist Wassim Nasr; former head of the French UN Military Mission to Iraq, Dominique Trinquand; Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Michael Pregent; and Senior Fellow at SAIS-John Hopkins University, Dr Abbas

Translation: Ali Al-Sistani’s guidance to fighters engaged in Fallujah

Mustafa Al-Khaqani ‏@Khaqani_M shared the an interesting picture (below) showing the guidance on battlefield rules issued a few days ago by Shi’i marja’ Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani spreading amongst fighters engaged in the Fallujah operation. What follows is a rough translation of this guidance with the original Arabic text below: “So it comes to the fight with those

‘Iran prepares to occupy Fallujah, the Kurds prepare to occupy Raqqa, and the Arabs prepare to watch part eight of Bab al-Hara…’ Faisal al-Qassem and Arabist discourse on Fallujah and Iraq.

‘Iran prepares to occupy Fallujah, the Kurds prepare to occupy Raqqa, and the Arabs prepare to watch part eight of Bab al-Hara…’, so tweeted Faisal al-Qassem this morning (27/05/2016) in response to the two operations currently underway against IS in Iraq and Syria. Qassem’s message encapsulates some of the long-established tropes of Arabist discourse, namely

Qassem Soleimani photo causing a stir…

Some interesting images have been circulating on social media regarding the Fallujah operation currently under way in Iraq. This photo was reportedly shared yesterday by Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (which emerged from Asa’b Ahl al-Haq), bearing the group’s logo and stating that it was taken ‘near Fallujah’. It shows Iranian Quds Force commander (the ‘Iranian Karla’ in

Mapping al-hashd al-shaabi (The Popular Mobilisation)

Important notes: Firstly, this is a work in progress, I will be developing it as time goes on. Secondly, I don’t claim that this information is reliable, in fact many of the sources are unverifiable, journalistic, or from information that is recycled by security analysts and think tankers within the defence establishment. Other sources include