Monthly Archives: February 2018

It Is Not Too Late for the West to Stop the Carnage in East Ghouta. Here’s How

If one thing typifies the Syrian civil war and all its quotidian brutality, it is the prevalence of siege tactics. Like the war, sieges are protracted and grinding. They are more brutal than other forms of fighting, aping civil conflicts. And, as in sieges, in Syria the most horrific crimes can occur out of sight of the rest of the world, likely out of mind. Continue reading


Cutting Deals with the Islamic State

It is in retreat, defeated in its attempt to build a state. But the survival of the Islamic State group (IS) is assured. It’s assured because IS has effectively changed its strategy to one of insurgency, because it remains at home in the ungoverned spaces opened up by Syria’s civil war and present in Iraq’s less-populated provinces. Continue reading

The Assad Regime Is Weakened but Can Count on Allies, for Now

Israeli air strikes in Syria are not new. For years, Israel has been striking at the Assad regime and Hezbollah targets in Syria with regularity and effectiveness. Where recent strikes differ is not in intent but in scale. Continue reading


Failing to Respond

Amid all that has occurred since, it is easy to forget what happened in Syria at the start of this month. First, as February began, the regime of Bashar al-Assad was credibly accused of several chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas, during routine airstrikes against non-military targets. And second, days later, the American-led coalition killed over 100 pro-regime fighters who had attacked a detachment of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US troops escorting them east of the Euphrates. Continue reading


The Remains of the Islamic State

They formed part of a terrorist cell which publicly executed Western hostages with sickening brutality. Their murders were relayed to the world in propaganda videos which defined the way their jihadist group, the Islamic State (ISIS), was perceived and discussed. Continue reading


Splitting Hairs over Mass Murder

The past few days have brought a stark reminder.

Since the start of February, reports  have surfaced of several chemical attacks in Syria, apparently undertaken using chlorine gas. Among these, chlorine is said to have been used in Douma, in besieged East Ghouta, and Saraqeb, in Idlib province. Continue reading


Lebanon’s New Regime of Censorship

An internationally minded romantic can always find good things to say about Lebanon. Travelling types praise its vibrant feel, its rich history and, perhaps most of all, its cosmopolitan sophistication. In parts of Europe, one still hears Beirut referred to as the ‘Paris of the East’. Continue reading