An Update

I have started an email newsletter on Substack, where I review books. It can be found, and you can subscribe, here. I will continue to post copies of pieces I publish in other outlets here on this blog, but I will not republish any of my newsletter. If you want to read its archive, or to sign up, visit the link above.

We Are Bellingcat

Review — We are Bellingcat: Global Crime, Online Sleuths, and the Bold Future of News by Eliot Higgins

We are Bellingcat, by Eliot Higgins, describes the past decade in open-source intelligence. It charts the creation of Bellingcat, an “intelligence agency for the people”, which compiles open-source evidence to analyze war and government malfeasance, notably as perpetrated in Arab countries after the revolutions in 2011 and by the Russian state across the world.

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With Netanyahu Gone, Will Israel Soften Its Stance on Iran?

On 13 June, before the new coalition government won a vote of confidence in Israel, the outgoing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, made an incendiary speech in the Knesset.

‘Iran is celebrating’ the new coalition, he said. He claimed the government, led by religious-nationalist Naftali Bennett, would be dominated by the left-wing and therefore weak. 

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Liberators or Occupiers?

The fourth anniversary of the start of the battle for Raqqa has just passed, during which time the city was recaptured from the Islamic State (IS).

Raqqa had been IS’ Syrian capital, and it took over four months for the liberators, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to wrest back control of the city in October 2017 with international support.

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WHO Knows Best

Here’s a conversation to which, in one form or another, I have been party more than once in the past week or so. Perhaps you have done the same.

In discussing the latest twists of the Covid-19 pandemic, person one says something to the tune of ‘I can’t remember. Is the Delta variant the Indian one, then?’, and person two, if they do not reproach the other for their lack of politesse, says something resembling, ‘er, I don’t know. I’ll just check’.

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Gaza War May End Arab Acceptance of the Israeli-led Status Quo

For all the pro-forma talk of a two-state solution among diplomats and politicians across the world, it is commonly believed that the Palestinian national cause has lost its impetus. Palestine lies in two divergent parts, separately ruled by parties which hate each other. Because no Palestinian state worth the name could spring quickly into existence, the diplomats and politicians believe, they need give it no heed save the platitudes.

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Cyber War

For the owners and operators of the Colonial Pipeline, the resumption of normal operations following an attack of ransomware probably brought little pleasure. Not least because, according to an official, they had paid up to $5 million to the attackers in ransom in the process. But to have one’s business entirely paralysed in this way is not so much a wake up call, as it has been fashionable to call it, as a time to get serious.

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As Gulf states court the regime, will Syria’s sham election cement Assad’s survival?

At present, early voting is taking place in Syria as the country stages its 2021 presidential election.

The election is a sham, and everyone knows that Bashar al-Assad, who has ruled the country since the death of his father Hafez in 2000, will be declared the victor.

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Boycotting Cotton

As the mechanics of China’s genocidal repression of its Uighur minority has become more and more evident, the hunt has been on to find the link between the systematic suppression of a cultural minority and global commerce.

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