The speed with which the Islamic State conquered territory after its advent in 2014 and in the years that followed cannot be denied. Nor can the ferocity and threat of its rule. The apparent self-confidence of its theology and the devotion with which fighters – foreign and local – flocked to its cause made it a threat seen across the world. Continue reading
All nations look to their pasts, often as much as to their futures. National history combines elements of myth with the familiar, and provides stories which animate and galvanize. History can unify. It can awe. And the lustre of civilization past can obscure or beautify a present which is less edifying. Contemporary improprieties can be well hidden among ancient stones. Continue reading
The Assad regime has been in peril since the beginning of the Syrian revolution.
Cities, towns and entire governorates have been free of its authority for more than half a decade. It has lost control of great tracts of the country. And many people in areas no longer within its compass would do everything they could to avoid being ruled over by the regime ever again. They would fight back. Their recapture may be impossible, or at the very least inordinately costly. Continue reading
In Syria at the moment, nothing is as simple as it initially seems. There are always complicating factors, overlooked actors and unforeseen consequences with which to contend. Especially when considering the propaganda output of the Assad regime, it is best to treat everything said with a great degree of caution. This is especially true when considering the sort of stories the regime may promote in order to capture the world’s attention or otherwise appeal to western perspectives. Continue reading
The defence of tyranny is becoming almost fashionable. Once unimaginable, at least outside certain circles, it has become almost the mark of self-described ‘realists’ to advocate tactical co-operation with individuals and regimes that have perpetrated atrocities. The threat of other forces – perhaps religiously inspired terrorists, or additional dictators with more expansionist tendencies – is deemed to merit these instances of dealing with the devil. Continue reading