Monthly Archives: December 2017

War in 140 Characters

Review – War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century by David Patrikarakos

The commercial internet changed the world. That much is conventional wisdom.

Similarly, its importance in the contemporary scene, largely in the form of social media, which features in what is termed ‘Web 2.0’, is sacrosanct.

It has altered the way billions of people communicate and has changed the nature of that communication. Its influence on politics is accepted to be vast, with some political figures practically defined by their use of one particular website: Twitter. Continue reading

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Saleh’s Downfall Is Hardly the End of an Era

The death of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh dem­onstrates a lot about the nature of the coun­try’s civil war. Saleh was killed by Houthi rebels, with whom he had previously been al­lied and against whom he publicly turned two days before. Continue reading

Federal Misgovernment

Syria’s civil conflict is not over, or even nearly over, but some of its participants are keen that this perception travels. They hope it becomes commonly-held. The regime of Bashar al-Assad and its Russian allies are busy pretending the war is winding down and that they have won. Assad himself met the Russian president Vladimir Putin in Sochi last month in the simulation of a victory lap. Continue reading

The Burning Ambition of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s conservatism is well-known. It is religious, social, and political. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy whose legitimacy is supported by clerical authority. Many outsiders, particularly Westerners, assume from this that the country is entirely retrograde, that reform of its institutions, laws and society may never come. Continue reading

An Endgame in Syria?

Around the world and in Syria itself, there is an idea which is gaining traction.

This idea holds, in effect, that the war is coming to an end. Its proponents suggest that things are beginning to fall into place; that the situation is beginning to become conclusive; and that, very soon, the country will reach something like stasis, or even a final state. Continue reading

Iraq and Its Kurds Succeed Where Iran Failed in Earthquake Aftermath

An earthquake of 7.3 mag­nitude struck Iraq and Iran on November 12. It began in the Iraqi area of Halabja but its tremors were felt across the Middle East and its effects were extensive. Continue reading