All nations look to their pasts, often as much as to their futures. National history combines elements of myth with the familiar, and provides stories which animate and galvanize. History can unify. It can awe. And the lustre of civilization past can obscure or beautify a present which is less edifying. Contemporary improprieties can be well hidden among ancient stones. Continue reading
On Syria, the confused state of American policy persists.
This month, the president, Donald Trump, authorised strikes, in tandem with Britain and France, to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for its use of chemical weapons in Douma, eastern Ghouta. That might be taken to suggest that the United States and allies were prepared to act – to restrain brutality, to support stability, and to prevent the eruption of general chaos. Continue reading
The Islamic State (IS) has been militarily defeated in its attempt to create a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. Its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria were wrested from the terror group after long, grinding campaigns fought by local forces with extensive international assistance.
After the rapid capture of Tal Afar and a pocket around Hawija from IS last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the war against IS was over, that it had been won. Continue reading
Today, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has arrived in Britain, beginning a three-day visit. This British sojourn is part of a global tour which has taken bin Salman to Egypt and which will include a visit to the United States. Continue reading
The capture of El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexander Kotey, two British men attempting to flee Syria for Turkey, was a brief moment for celebration. The men had formed part of a brutal Islamic State (ISIS) cell, dubbed ’the Beatles’, which had executed foreign hostages on camera and become the global face of the terror group. Continue reading
They formed part of a terrorist cell which publicly executed Western hostages with sickening brutality. Their murders were relayed to the world in propaganda videos which defined the way their jihadist group, the Islamic State (ISIS), was perceived and discussed. 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