If one thing typifies the Syrian civil war and all its quotidian brutality, it is the prevalence of siege tactics. Like the war, sieges are protracted and grinding. They are more brutal than other forms of fighting, aping civil conflicts. And, as in sieges, in Syria the most horrific crimes can occur out of sight of the rest of the world, likely out of mind. Continue reading
The past few days have brought a stark reminder.
Since the start of February, reports have surfaced of several chemical attacks in Syria, apparently undertaken using chlorine gas. Among these, chlorine is said to have been used in Douma, in besieged East Ghouta, and Saraqeb, in Idlib province. Continue reading
Despite the rhetoric, the campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) is not over. The international coalition is sounding almost triumphalist, giving developments a sunny gloss and frequently repeating claim that it is ‘defeating Daesh’.
This is true in a way, and success in one aspect – the protracted war which has pushed IS out of many cities and towns in Syria and Iraq – cannot be denied. Continue reading
With the defeat of the Islamic State group imminent, the future of Syria is beginning to take shape – and many nations have sought to promote their preferred visions for the country through covert or explicit intervention. Continue reading
Diplomacy, to pervert Carl von Clausewitz’s most famous epigram, is the continuation of war by other means. Its practitioners can use diplomacy to support allies or publicly rebuke adversaries. In the post-Cold War era, the severing of diplomatic relations has often served as a substitute for conflict. Continue reading
America’s allies in Syria cannot count on their friends. That’s the message sent by the White House.
It emerged last week that the United States will shutter a CIA programme to equip vetted rebel groups. These groups were America’s allies and assets on the ground in Syria. Continue reading
The Iranian state is often portrayed as a potential partner – the sort of country with which the West could work, if only its worldview and ambitions did not clash so obviously with the wishes of the American-underwritten world order. Continue reading