Understanding Turkey since the dissolution of the Ottoman empire has proven difficult for westerners. The decaying magnificence of the Ottoman years was a vivid adornment to past debate. Nineteenth century diplomatists like David Urquhart defended the Sublime Porte as a reasonable counterbalance to Russia, and publicity-minded moralists like Gladstone decried Ottoman atrocities, all while the empire became more visibly moribund and threadbare. Continue reading
Last week, three Turkish soldiers and up to five members of the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) were killed in bombings in Syria. They were patrolling in Raqqa province when they attempted to search two cars and their occupants. Continue reading
Hundreds of fighters flocked from all over the world to join Islamic State (ISIS), lured by the promise of a utopian society. But now they find themselves in squalid jails and refugee camps while the world worries about what to do with them. Continue reading
Turkey’s military incursion into northeastern Syria was never going to be popular. It aims to address a problem that only Turkey experiences and which, it seems, concerns only Turkey. Continue reading
Syria’s civil war has proven a transformative experience for Turkey. The violence of Syria’s war pushed millions into neighbouring countries, of which Turkey was one; but Turkey felt extra pressure and opportunity as a gateway to Europe. Continue reading
On Sunday, the White House announced that ‘Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria’ and that American forces, though they would not support this advance, would move out of the way to allow it to take place. Continue reading
The liberation of Raqqa by the fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the military power of the Global Coalition confronting the Islamic State group (IS), was never going to be easy. Continue reading
Before the chlorine came the bombs. And before the bombs came the siege. Douma, the largest settlement in in eastern Ghouta, part of the surrounds of the Syrian capital, Damascus, had suffered greatly in the country’s civil war, which is in its eighth year.
Along with the rest of eastern Ghouta, Douma had been under siege for more than five years, its population cut off, unable to access medical supplies and food, unable to leave the area. For years, an outpost of opposition had remained a few miles from the seat of authority in Damascus, a reminder of the limits of the power of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the hereditary president. Continue reading
The United States and its allies, Britain and France, launched over 100 missiles at the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in the early hours of 14 April. This was retaliation for the regime’s use of poison gas in the town of Douma, east of the capital, Damascus, exactly a week earlier, which massacred at least 43 people and wounded 500 more.
The military strikes were an important signal and will likely be some deterrent against the future use of chemical weapons, but ultimately this was another missed opportunity by the West to meaningfully affect the course of the war. Continue reading