When Donald Trump ordered the use of 59 Tomahawk missiles to strike a Syrian air base operated by the Assad regime, many observers were taken almost completely by surprise. There had been rumblings, no doubt, suggestions that, after the terrible chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib governorate, something might be done. But this was merely hinted at, mentioned in line with a range of possibilities. That was a demonstration that options had not been over-hastily removed from the table. Continue reading
The Syrian war, as well as being a civil conflict, is also an imperial battlefield. But not in quite the way you might expect.
Syria has not been a playground for American imperial activities. Until recently it has seen far too little intervention from the United States. But two countries – at best regional powers – which have imperial ambitions of their own, have filled that gap. 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
The election of Donald Trump as US president was a big moment. His victory in November reflected a steep change in the way the United States is run and the way it perceives other countries.
Trump has little good to say about many international norms that underpin the liberal world order. He disdains NATO. He has no intention of supporting America’s allies among the Syrian opposition. Trump is notably well-disposed towards Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. Continue reading
Donald Trump is about to become president of the United States of America. As remarkable as this phrase still seems, it’s going to happen. As such, his pronouncements matter; his every utterance is newsworthy.
This is why Trump’s first interview with a British newspaper, conducted by Michael Gove for The Times, is notable. Alongside the expected comments on Brexit, which Trump greeted warmly and enthusiastically, the president-elect also discussed the usefulness of NATO, the situation in Syria, migration to Europe and, inevitably, Russia and Vladimir Putin. Continue reading
The election of Donald Trump is a stunning, if potentially salutary, event. Ever the outsider, Trump seemed incapable of capturing enough support nationally to defeat Hillary Clinton at the polls. But now he has, and his policies, unencumbered by opposition in either Congress or the Supreme Court, are soon going to become those of the United States. Continue reading
The battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group continues to rage. The group, skilled in guerrilla and asymmetric warfare, will fight hard, not so much to retain the city, but to cause as much damage as possible to the forces of the global coalition. Continue reading