Review — We are Bellingcat: Global Crime, Online Sleuths, and the Bold Future of News by Eliot Higgins
We are Bellingcat, by Eliot Higgins, describes the past decade in open-source intelligence. It charts the creation of Bellingcat, an “intelligence agency for the people”, which compiles open-source evidence to analyze war and government malfeasance, notably as perpetrated in Arab countries after the revolutions in 2011 and by the Russian state across the world.
You may have read some of the contemplative and mournful journalism produced to mark ten years since the beginning of the Arab Spring. All the writing prompted by this anniversary assumed, as if by default, a funereal tone.
Review – My Country: A Syrian Memoir by Kassem Eid
Kassem Eid’s memoir opens with a mournful preface. The author, a Syrian who has faced the full force of his country’s recent history, accepts he cannot escape its suffering. Eid says he has fled across continents, travelling as far as he can. He has lived as hard as he can, yet he cannot forget. He cannot suppress the bitter memories of which he is the custodian. Continue reading →
The death of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh demonstrates a lot about the nature of the country’s civil war. Saleh was killed by Houthi rebels, with whom he had previously been allied and against whom he publicly turned two days before. Continue reading →
Western politicians failed in their response to the Arab Spring. National leaders saw and saluted the emergence of pro-democracy protests in 2011, but they did little more. When they acted, as in Libya, Western leaders did too little and thought not at all about the future; when they did not act, in Syria most notably, they ushered in a state of affairs where war crimes go unpunished, and dictators engaged in mass murder need fear no redress. Continue reading →
This week’s march, entitled ‘Unite the Right’, by a collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other right-wing extremists in Charlottesville, Virginia, has thrown the United States into turmoil. Continue reading →
The people disappeared in Syria’s military prisons do not have graves, but they do have names. They may not have been accorded funeral rites, but they have faces and stories and their families have memories of their presence. The war which has destroyed much of Syria can be localised: to a family, to a single person, to a face. And within the wider war lurk stories of cruelty and barbarism which affect individuals but whose effects spiral outwards. These specific instances of savagery become institutionalised. Continue reading →
For my generation, 2011 came close to being our 1968. Like the latter, it was a year of political change, change that seemed dynamic and accelerated.
The world was on the verge of being transformed. It seemed as though undemocratic regimes, for too long a regrettable fixture of the Middle East, could be overthrown and replaced. More than that, there was a sense of real optimism. It seemed the weight of history had been lifted. Continue reading →