Daraa Protests Show the City Remains Outside the Regime’s Orbit

Last week, demonstrations took place in the southern Syrian city of Daraa to protest something symbolic.

In the former heartland of Syria’s revolution, protesters gathered on March 10 to oppose the refurbishment of a statute depicting Hafez al-Assad, the father of Syria’s hereditary president, Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading

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Shamima Begum’s Media Circus

When, four years ago and at the age of fifteen, Shamima Begum first left her family and her country to join a group of religiously-inspired murderers in the Levant, I doubt she expected that her future life would include so many TV interviews. Continue reading

Germany’s Attempted Extradition Sends Strong Message to Syria

When Germany announced last April that it was seeking the arrest of Jamil Hassan, head of Syria’s feared Air Force Intelligence Directorate, many dismissed it as a well-meaning piece of theatre. Continue reading

Misreading Houellebecq

In France, the release of Serotonin, the latest novel by Michel Houellebecq, attracted the sales and comment his work usually receives. Around the same time, France’s former infant terrible was awarded the légion d’honneur. The author, popularly held to be brutal, unromantic, also married Qianyum Lysis Li late last year. In the pictures, Houellebecq was dressed strangely, but looked happy. His new book is, so far, unavailable in English. Continue reading

Syria’s Chemical Tactics Could Have Dreadful Consequences for Future Conflicts

Chemical warfare has dominated the global perception of the Syrian civil war. The use of chemical weapons, banned internationally, attracts its own condemnation but the way the Syrian war is captured and communicated to the world increased the horror and disgust its crimes can inspire. Continue reading

Terror’s Wars of Words

Even in wartime, bureaucracies continue to produce weights of paper. Baathist bureaucracies are no exception. Throughout Syria’s war, the extent to which the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s worst excesses have found their way onto official paper has surprised onlookers. Couched among the death certificates issued by state-run prisons lies the documentation, officially signed, legally witnessed, describing a campaign of mass murder. It is punctilious, and in plain sight. Continue reading

ISIS Intent on Resurgence as America Contemplates Withdrawal from Syria

The central justification for US President Donald Trump’s demand that the United States evacuates its military presence from Syria is that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been defeated. Superficially, and compared to what came before, this argument may not initially appear outlandish. Continue reading