We are living at the beginning of a new age: An age of wars fought by drone. The war in Ukraine has already suggested the outlines of this drone era. But these are early days.Continue reading
Mountainous and dry, with a tendency to anarchy in the ample spaces between its cities, Yemen has long been hospitable to insurgency. Yet in ancient times it was home to the Sabaeans and had claims to be the biblical land of the Queen of Sheba. Its fertility and beauty were such that the Romans called it Arabia Felix, ‘happy Arabia’. The people there are mostly Arabs and like much of the rest of Arabia, became subject to the distant domain of the Ottoman sultan. The fate of the peninsula was influenced significantly by Britain, which in 1937 took the port city of Aden as the centre of its colony (on independence in 1967, it became South Yemen). Britain exercised significant influence over who ruled Muscat and Oman; assisted succession to the monarchy and imamate of North Yemen; and together with the US confirmed the al Saud family as hereditary rulers of what became Saudi Arabia. Now combined, the former North and South Yemen are together Sunni by bare majority, but the Zaidi Shia remain a large, mainly northern minority.Continue reading
Review – This Is Not Propaganda by Peter Pomerantsev
We live in a golden age not of fact, but of fiction. The possibilities of new media have led to an embarrassment of riches. Where once there was a lack of information, there is now overabundance, with half of the world’s population possessing access to the internet, and the sum of human knowledge accessible from a device most in the rich world carry in their pockets, and replace for an almost trivial sum when its screen gets scratched. Continue reading
It is widely held that 2016 was a depressing year.
Much of this collective feeling can be attributed to less substantial events such as the deaths of many famous people, and the pall this seemed to cast over the year as a whole.
But there are more serious reasons for believing that what happened in 2016 leaves the world darker than it was before, and less optimistic when thinking about the future. Continue reading