Two excellent articles on what ISIL wants (and what happens what that conflicts with al Qaeda)

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Not particularly recent pieces, because my thesis has taken up most of my free time over the past two months, but worth reading if you haven’t yet.

Graeme Wood in the Atlantic: “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”

Daniel Byman and Jennifer Williams in Lawfare: “As troubling as the Islamic State’s successes are for U.S. officials, there is one person for whom they are even more troubling: Ayman al-Zawahiri. Although the Al Qaeda leader might be expected to rejoice at the emergence of a strong jihadist group that delights in beheading Americans (among other horrors), in reality the Islamic State’s rise risks Al Qaeda’s demise. When Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rejected Al Qaeda’s authority and later declared a ca­liphate, he split the fractious jihadist move­ment.”

The Kurdish right to self-governance

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The Kurdish right to self-governance

A dark Christmas for the Christians of the Middle East

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A dark Christmas for the Christians of the Middle East

The case against paying ransoms

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The case against paying ransoms