In Iraq’s cities, the streets are full of demonstrators, and the country is convulsed by the violence inflicted upon those who protest against its dysfunctional state.
The violence is attributed to the Iraqi state, to killers among the militias which dominate Iraqi national life, and to agents of Iranian influence, whose decades-long role in influencing Iraqi politics has been increasingly exposed in recent months, and clearly unpopular among Iraqis. Continue reading →
At the end of September, in the section of the al-Hol refugee camp in north-eastern Syria that houses foreigners, Russian women – supporters of the Islamic State – severely beat two Turkistani women, apparently because their victims refused sharia indoctrination. Continue reading →
Elections are wonderful things. Despite the calculated duplicity which campaigning for the vote requires, and despite their association with politicians, elections remind voters – and observers around the world – that ordinary people, individually and together, can affect the futures of the societies in which they live. 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 →
Once again, Tony Blair is in the news. A merry-go-round of stories swirls around the former British prime minister. Many of them are luridly drawn, some nonsensical. A new story concerns the perpetual question of Blair being prosecuted for the Iraq war. 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 →
As the final assault on the stronghold of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul is in the works, important questions are going unanswered. Chief among them is: What will ISIS do in Iraq after Mosul falls? Continue reading →
Recapturing eastern Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS) represents a notable achievement for Iraq’s security forces. This presents a marked contrast to the disorder with which the Iraqi Army fought the sudden advance of ISIS in 2014. Then Iraq’s armed forces fell back and ISIS advanced to within 64 km of Baghdad. Continue reading →
The Republican nominee for the office of President of the United States is a man who spends time in his speeches talking about all the various products which bear his name. This is the same man who is seemingly unable to resist being baited into petty feuds, online and in the real world, with personalities great and small, and whose taste in personal décor is rather closer to that favoured by Saddam Hussein (a man he frequently professes to admire) than any of the latter French kings. He also likes to talk about the size of his hands, and to boast of his poll numbers (something which may become increasingly difficult if the events of this week are widely replicated), but this sort of thing is of less immediate importance. Continue reading →
The story of Emma Sky, newly told in her memoir The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq, is a fascinating one. An opponent of the war in Iraq – someone, in fact, who had proposed serving as a human shield in the first Gulf War – does not generally end up in effect administering a province, as Sky found herself doing very soon after her arrival in the country in 2003. But this is what she did. And more than that, she spent much of the following seven years in Iraq, working closely with the very American military she and many like-minded individuals opposed so vigorously before the war began. Continue reading →