Even in wartime, bureaucracies continue to produce weights of paper. Baathist bureaucracies are no exception. Throughout Syria’s war, the extent to which the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s worst excesses have found their way onto official paper has surprised onlookers. Couched among the death certificates issued by state-run prisons lies the documentation, officially signed, legally witnessed, describing a campaign of mass murder. It is punctilious, and in plain sight. Continue reading
Permanence has its attractions. It seems stable and without threat. Things we elect to do indefinitely are likely to be activities we enjoy, or can endure. We hope conditions that do not change might make us safe.
This reasoning is naïve, of course. And we know it, or come to learn it through experience. True permanence is as impossible as perfection, each equally out of reach. Continue reading
Day or night, someone is likely to know where we are. Our friends and family, for one, or our colleagues. Someone will have an idea where to find us, if necessary. 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 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