Iran’s protestors are showing immense courage. That is a given. But the reasons why are worth spelling out.
Not only do they have the bravery to demonstrate against a theocratic dictatorship which has veiled women against their will for over forty years; they also protest in the full knowledge that the regime has already killed many thousands of activists in Iran and across the Middle East.
Earlier this month, Lokman Slim, an activist and writer, was murdered in Lebanon. He was found in his car, shot five times. As an unprompted assassination of a nonviolent man, this act was formally deplored by many and greatly condemned. After Slim’s death was confirmed, there was an outpouring of anguish from beyond Lebanon. In life Slim was a witty critic of Hezbollah, a fixture of his country’s public sphere, and a source and a friend to many.
If modern war often seems like a racket, that may be because in some respects it is. Wars are now rarely fought between states. Instead, parties to contemporary conflicts are often scattered armed groups, operating without the constitutions and defined rules of engagement which bind the militaries of nations.
When Germany announced last April that it was seeking the arrest of Jamil Hassan, head of Syria’s feared Air Force Intelligence Directorate, many dismissed it as a well-meaning piece of theatre. Continue reading →
US President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16, in a summit that has been likely since Trump entered office last year.
They will discuss Syria. Russia and the United States have interacted inconsistently there. Where once it was thought that Trump would follow the Russian line on Syria’s civil conflict, events have proven more complex. Continue reading →