Assad and Legitimacy Without Victory

The Assad regime has been in peril since the beginning of the Syrian revolution.

Cities, towns and entire governorates have been free of its authority for more than half a decade. It has lost control of great tracts of the country. And many people in areas no longer within its compass would do everything they could to avoid being ruled over by the regime ever again. They would fight back. Their recapture may be impossible, or at the very least inordinately costly. Continue reading

Brexit Obsession and Foreign Policy

Leaving the European Union (EU) is beginning to get difficult. In recent weeks the prime minister has faced muted opposition in the House of Commons and active defiance in the Lords. Continue reading

Battle for Mosul Shows a Retreating Caliphate

Recapturing eastern Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS) represents a notable achieve­ment for Iraq’s security forces. This presents a marked contrast to the disorder with which the Iraqi Army fought the sudden advance of ISIS in 2014. Then Iraq’s armed forces fell back and ISIS advanced to within 64 km of Baghdad. Continue reading

Safe Zones and Illusory Promises

Donald Trump is not a humanitarian by nature. He is a hard-headed businessman, a guy for whom winning, in a notably zero-sum way, is all.

He wants the United States to win at the expense of everyone else – be it in trade or in war. Morally, the president says he will stop at nothing to achieve this ambition. Continue reading

We Applauded the White Helmets at the Oscars – Now We Must Follow Their Example and Act

The tragedy of what has happened in Syria has spawned numerous artistic renderings. This is only fit and proper considering the historic nature of what has taken place there – the strength of revolutionary sentiment, the extreme violence of the regime’s initial crackdown on protests, the biblical refugee crisis which has now drawn in neighbouring countries and created desperate, wrenching scenes in the Mediterranean and in mainland Europe. Continue reading

Emmanuel Macron and Moderation

Emmanuel Macron, leader of France’s En Marche! and candidate for the country’s presidency, seems too good to be true. Intelligent, impeccably educated, charismatic, he is very different to François Fillon, who is officially ‘embattled’ – and certainly looks jaded – after the emergence of a financial scandal regarding the unorthodox (and state subsidised) employment of his wife.

And Macron is nothing at all like the far-right leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen. Continue reading