Category Archives: International Affairs

Why Germany’s Aristocratic Coup Was Doomed From the Start

Twenty-five people have been arrested by German authorities on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. A failed coup attempt – and a series of raids involving hundreds of officers – seems like the sort of story that might happen in a far-flung part of the world, not the largest economy in Europe. 

Continue reading

Qatar 2022 Proves That ‘Sportswashing’ Works

People are hypocrites. That was already pretty clear. The World Cup has proven it yet again. All that anguish, all those tears, for over a decade. Many people said they’d boycott the tournament once it was given to Qatar. All those promises from commentators and fans not to watch a single match. How many of those have been kept? Very, very few, I’d be happy to bet.  

Continue reading

Protesting in China Won’t Be Easy

It is easy to imagine that a dam might be bursting in China. There have been spontaneous street protests across the country against the country’s zero Covid policy, unconfirmed videos in Shanghai show crowds calling for president Xi Jinping to resign, and political content is slipping though China’s draconian social media censorship.  

Continue reading

World Cups and World Approval

As England’s football team prepare to face Iran in the first match of their World Cup campaign, the backdrop is already miserable. Football’s most prestigious tournament is taking place in the wrong season in a deplorable state where workers have died in the construction of stadiums. To make matters worse, the Three Lions’ first opponents are in the midst of a brutal crackdown back home on those who have dared speak out in opposition. Hundreds have died; thousands more have been locked up.  

Continue reading

Iran’s Protests are Coming to a Head

Iran’s protest movement appears to be coming to a head. It’s been going on for two months, ever since the country’s ‘morality police’ beat a young woman visiting Tehran, Masha Amini, into a coma from which she never recovered earlier this year. The reason these thugs gave for dragging her into their van was that she was wearing her mandatory hijab incorrectly. Ever since, Iranians of all ages, across the country, have been on the streets, protesting for ‘women, life, freedom’. 

Continue reading

Assad and Putin Reach a New Low in Syria

Focus on Syria has dwindled since the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But over a decade after the country’s bloody civil war first started, the conflict rumbles on. Armed groups continue to jockey for position. The death toll, caused by Russia’s air force, Iran’s militias, and Bashar al-Assad’s forces, continues to rise.  

Continue reading

King Bibi Returns

It is an immense irony, as the great orientalist Bernard Lewis was fond of remarking, that Israel – the most vibrant and enthusiastic democracy in the Middle East – has to put up with the world’s worst electoral system. Its governments frequently collapse. Perhaps they do it philanthropically, to allow citizens once again the pleasure of going to the polls. 

Israel’s longest serving leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is back. His return confirms once again an iron clad rule of Israeli politics: never write Bibi off. A few years ago, his opponents briefly thought they had vanquished him for good.   

Continue reading

Lukashenko Courts Disaster by Following Putin Into Ukraine

The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is a fool. His countrymen know this well. They have lived under his rule for almost thirty years, and their country is poor and underdeveloped. Lukashenko used to wear with pride a title awarded to him by the international media, “Europe’s last dictator.” His most recent fiscal tactic, intended to fight inflation, has been to ban price increases by state decree. Obviously, he is not a deep thinker. 

Continue reading

Russia’s Hunger Plan Returns

Until this week, the prospect of global famine had disappeared from the headlines, but earlier in Russia’s war against Ukraine, a sinister possibility had begun to take shape.  

Ukraine is a breadbasket. Its produce feeds the world. And Russia, knowing this, had developed a plan to starve the world instead. Its soldiers would wreck Ukrainian farmland and kill its farmers. Russians would steal and sell all the Ukrainian grain it could. And the Black Sea – a vital artery through which most of Ukraine’s food exports travelled – would be blockaded by the Russian navy. Food shipments would not be let through. The world would starve, Ukraine’s economy would suffer, and – in Vladimir Putin’s mind – he would be the victor. 

Continue reading

The HTS March on Afrin

When the forces of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an armed Islamist group which is a successor to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, rolled into Afrin in northern Syria earlier this month, the primary reaction was one of confusion. 

Continue reading