Despite ground losses in Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa, the Islamic State (ISIS) continues to have a presence that incites or inspires online. Continue reading
The Islamic State (ISIS) is on the back foot after its defeat in the Iraqi city of Mosul and smaller losses in Syria, but questions remain over eradicating the group’s leadership. 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
Much is made of the foreign fighters who flock to join the ‘caliphate’ Islamic State (IS) claims to have established in Iraq and Syria.
Although many foreign fighters are from Middle Eastern and North African countries, the international focus is on those from prosperous Western nations. These people are many things: a clear and present threat to national security, something of a rebuke to the societies from which they came, and also an important puzzle. Continue reading
The importance of Syria’s civil war in international terms cannot be overstated. It has spawned the greatest mass movement of people since the end of the Second World War. It has provided thousands of terrible, heart-wrenching vignettes, from the unseeing body of a small boy washed up on a Turkish beach to the grisly output of a thousand propagandists, which fill newspapers and television screens on a daily basis. And it is unlikely to be over any time soon. Continue reading
The issue of Syria, it seems, will be with us for a long time to come. With analysts and even American officials predicting that Bashar al-Assad, the country’s dictatorial nominal ruler, will outlast President Obama, it seems good news – or at least insight which does not subscribe to entirely defeatist or entirely unhelpful positions – is in short supply and retains a vital importance. To this end I decided to investigate further the tales, visions and fates of those who form perhaps the most debated concept within Syria’s already complex conflict: the ‘good guys’. Many – including, perhaps paradoxically, those on the political Left – have alleged that they do not exist; that they are, in effect, politicised fabrications designed either to undermine or actively to overthrow Assad and restrain the influence of his Iranian allies. Others – possibly those of a less pessimistic mien – contend that while the ‘good guys’ may once have existed, they have since disappeared amid the fog of war, some of them becoming Islamists or being crushed, others fleeing the country entirely. Continue reading