Tag Archives: Middle East

Prosecuting Blair Over Iraq Would Be a Victory for Dictators

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

After an Election Victory, Emmanuel Macron’s Foreign Outlook Is Hardening

Emmanuel Macron has a difficult task ahead of him.

The new French president is stellar in many ways. Continue reading

The Moderation of Muqtada al-Sadr

The name Muqtada al-Sadr used to inspire fear. His brand of Shia sectarianism contributed greatly to the turmoil following the deposition of Saddam Hussein in 2003. His militia, the Mahdi Army, fought against the United States and the forces of the reconstituted Iraqi state. It also engaged in street violence and intimidation. Continue reading

Of Tyranny and Violence

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

Hopes Over the Arab Spring Were Premature

For my generation, 2011 came close to being our 1968. Like the latter, it was a year of political change, change that seemed dynamic and accelerated.

The world was on the verge of being transformed. It seemed as though undemocratic regimes, for too long a regrettable fixture of the Middle East, could be over­thrown and replaced. More than that, there was a sense of real optimism. It seemed the weight of history had been lifted. Continue reading

The Spirit of the Arab Spring Laid to Rest

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