Category Archives: Society

Turkey’s Limited Victory in Afrin

When Turkey began its campaign against the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria, undertaken in tandem with selected Syrian rebel groups, global condemnation followed.

Operation Olive Branch, as it is ironically called, met with fierce criticism from the beginning. Continue reading


Covering the Ground

Review – Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars by Jonathan Spyer

As the violence of the Syrian civil war increased, and as the Islamic State group (IS) crossed the Iraqi border, it was clear that the wars in these two countries would become the essential conflict of our times. 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


European Leaders’ Response to Iran Protests Is Weak and Disingenuous

World leaders can claim to have been taken by surprise by the protests which have erupted in Iran over the past few days.

After all, many European politicians and American analysts confidently declared, as recently as October, that American sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its foreign operations apparatus had united the Iranian people behind the nation’s theocratic government and its security state. 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


Fake News and the Two Sides of the ‘Digital Caliphate’

Despite ground losses in Iraq’s Mosul and Syr­ia’s Raqqa, the Islamic State (ISIS) continues to have a presence that incites or inspires online. Continue reading


Prosecuting Blair Over Iraq Would Be a Victory for Dictators

Once again, Tony Blair is in the news. A merry-go-round of stories swirls around the former British prime minister. Many of them are luridly drawn, some nonsensical. A new story concerns the perpetual question of Blair being prosecuted for the Iraq war. Continue reading