So surprising was the death of Qassem Soleimani, former leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps—Quds Force (IRGC—QF), that it was fair to suspect – at least initially – that he was killed by mistake. Perhaps America had meant to kill his travelling companion, the leader of Kataib Hezbollah Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, instead, with Soleimani merely (in that odd euphemism) collateral damage. Continue reading
It is in retreat, defeated in its attempt to build a state. But the survival of the Islamic State group (IS) is assured. It’s assured because IS has effectively changed its strategy to one of insurgency, because it remains at home in the ungoverned spaces opened up by Syria’s civil war and present in Iraq’s less-populated provinces. Continue reading
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s conservatism is well-known. It is religious, social, and political. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy whose legitimacy is supported by clerical authority. Many outsiders, particularly Westerners, assume from this that the country is entirely retrograde, that reform of its institutions, laws and society may never come. Continue reading
Syria has been gravely damaged by its civil war.
The country has seen hundreds of thousands of its citizens killed in bombings and fighting, with more dying as a result of war’s inescapable consequences, and yet more disappearing into regime prisons and into the hands of radical groups such as the Islamic State (IS). Continue reading
The mass data leak which has been christened the Panama Papers is one of the largest in history. It contains enormous amounts of information, much of which concerns the financial arrangements of powerful and famous people. Many of them are politicians, even national leaders. The response in the press, and from the publics of many countries, has been correspondingly outsized. Continue reading