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
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
The European Union has announced, last week, the extension of sanctioning of some people affiliated with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, noting that these ‘prominent businessmen are making large profits through their ties with the regime and are helping to finance the regime in return’ and were ‘supporting and benefiting from the Assad regime’. Continue reading
Permanence has its attractions. It seems stable and without threat. Things we elect to do indefinitely are likely to be activities we enjoy, or can endure. We hope conditions that do not change might make us safe.
This reasoning is naïve, of course. And we know it, or come to learn it through experience. True permanence is as impossible as perfection, each equally out of reach. Continue reading
What happens in and to Syria invariably affects Israel. The collapse of Syrian civil society created a humanitarian crisis and other pressures and the persistence of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a central plank of the ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel, presents its own problems. Continue reading
The conflict between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its enemies has slowed in Idlib, halted by a precarious ceasefire. But fighting between groups in the province is subject to no such regulation. Rebel factions and jihadists continue to tussle for control of the province. Continue reading
All nations look to their pasts, often as much as to their futures. National history combines elements of myth with the familiar, and provides stories which animate and galvanize. History can unify. It can awe. And the lustre of civilization past can obscure or beautify a present which is less edifying. Contemporary improprieties can be well hidden among ancient stones. Continue reading