Syria’s Propaganda Tours

Countries in war can make surprising tourist destinations. This is one objective of the Syrian government. It wants to forge an incongruous association with the leisure of travel. Its borders admit carefully chosen foreigners in the pursuit of that aim. Continue reading

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Syrians Face Deportation to a Homeland Still Very Much at War

Syria’s war has not concluded but for many it is convenient to pretend that it has. To those in the regime of Bashar al-Assad, it is necessary to present the government’s campaign of pacification as having produced peace. For foreign countries that wish to cease their programmes assisting the Syrian people, any opportunity to have their wish fulfilled is seized. Continue reading

Radicalisation and Self-Education

In Sebastian Faulks’ novel Engleby, a significant scene occurs early on, during a university interview. Faulks’ protagonist, the titular character, is the interview candidate. Engleby is a prospective student of literature; a discerning one, to his own mind. And in the course of things, he is asked to make a comparison between the writing of T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. Engleby, an abrasive, arrogant young man, does not believe there is much to compare. Continue reading

A Note on ‘Syria’s Nuremberg’

The war crimes of Syria’s conflict have been obfuscated and lied about on a vast scale and with great success, but they have never been effectively hidden.

Not hidden from those whose spells in regime prisons included torture and the possibility of execution, not hidden from those whose experience of regime bombardment was a little more than theoretical. Continue reading

‘Klepto-Queens’ and Far-Right Infighting

Earlier this year, the writer Sohrab Ahmari published a piece on the website of the religious-conservative magazine First Things explicitly attacking the worldview of another member of that tribe, David French.

The subject in hand was the future of the American right. Can it be reconciled both to Donald Trump and to God? Ahmari’s piece accused French of timidity, and of selling out both his politics and his faith in opposition to Trump. Ahmari phrased all this strongly, and was accused by a good number of doing so with harshness. Continue reading

Idlib’s Position on the Periphery of Conflict and Ceasefire

The northern Syria governate of Idlib exists on many peripheries. It – along with parts of Aleppo and Hama – is dominated by rebel and Islamist groups. It borders territory held by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad but does not fall under the government’s sway. Continue reading

An Embarrassment of Riches

Review – This Is Not Propaganda by Peter Pomerantsev

We live in a golden age not of fact, but of fiction. The possibilities of new media have led to an embarrassment of riches. Where once there was a lack of information, there is now overabundance, with half of the world’s population possessing access to the internet, and the sum of human knowledge accessible from a device most in the rich world carry in their pockets, and replace for an almost trivial sum when its screen gets scratched. Continue reading