Kurdistan’s Secession from Iraq Is Not a Done Deal

Iraq’s Kurds have voted overwhelmingly to become in­dependent. More than 90 per cent of those who voted backed seces­sion. This confident margin of victory does not translate into international confidence. The United States repeatedly attempted to dissuade the leaders of the Kurd­ish Regional Government (KRG) from having the referendum at all. Continue reading

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Turkey in Idlib: So Much Could Go Wrong, so Little Right

There is no clear end to the Syrian war in sight.

Everything is in a state of motion. Nothing is fixed, and amid this confusion and volatility, much can still happen. Such ambiguity benefits foreign forces, many of whom feel it is in their power to change the shape of the war, or at least to pursue their narrow national interests within Syria. Continue reading

Officially Incompetent

Western politicians failed in their response to the Arab Spring. National leaders saw and saluted the emergence of pro-democracy protests in 2011, but they did little more. When they acted, as in Libya, Western leaders did too little and thought not at all about the future; when they did not act, in Syria most notably, they ushered in a state of affairs where war crimes go unpunished, and dictators engaged in mass murder need fear no redress. Continue reading

The Assad Regime Is Exploiting Reconstruction to Gain Legitimacy

Syria has been gravely damaged by its civil war.

The country has seen hundreds of thousands of its citizens killed in bombings and fighting, with more dying as a result of war’s inescapable consequences, and yet more disappearing into regime prisons and into the hands of radical groups such as the Islamic State (IS). Continue reading

North Korea and Literature

North Korea is in part fascinating because it is mysterious. Cut off from viewing eyes not by geographical remoteness but by political design, the state and the lives within it seem strange and bizarre to observers. The mystery of the hermit state is part of its myth, which is cultivated by North Korea’s leadership, as well as a by-product of its peculiar circumstances. Outsiders can enter only irregularly. Western journalists cannot report on North Korea as they might any other country. Outside analysts can only guess at the bare facts of its economy, its politics and its culture. Continue reading

What Will Become of Iraq’s Hawija after ISIS?

The northern Iraqi city of Hawija represents the last Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold in the country. After the gruelling battle for Mosul and the rapid victory at Tal Afar, the Iraqi state is on the verge of winning its immediate war against ISIS. Hawija and the nearby area are surrounded by Iraq state- and Kurdish-controlled territory, forming what might ap­pear to be a tight seal. Continue reading

The World Is Wrong to Let Mass-Murderer Assad Remain in Power

With the defeat of the Islamic State group imminent, the future of Syria is beginning to take shape – and many nations have sought to promote their preferred visions for the country through covert or explicit intervention. Continue reading