Countries in war can make surprising tourist destinations. This is one objective of the Syrian government. It wants to forge an incongruous association with the leisure of travel. Its borders admit carefully chosen foreigners in the pursuit of that aim. Continue reading →
Review – This Is Not Propaganda by Peter Pomerantsev
We live in a golden age not of fact, but of fiction. The possibilities of new media have led to an embarrassment of riches. Where once there was a lack of information, there is now overabundance, with half of the world’s population possessing access to the internet, and the sum of human knowledge accessible from a device most in the rich world carry in their pockets, and replace for an almost trivial sum when its screen gets scratched. Continue reading →
The Syrian civil war’s most horrific feature has become its most consistent undertone – one of the threat of war crimes committed with chemical weapons.
Hundreds of attacks have been made with chemical weapons, whose manufacture and use are restricted by international agreement. A report by the Global Public Policy Institute recorded more than 336 incidents in which the use of chemical weapons in Syria was likely. Of those incidents, 98 per cent, the report claimed, were carried out by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading →
Last week, forces allied to Turkey began an operation intended to wrest control of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
This attack, comprising Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebel groups, had been hinted at extensively. It follows other recent Turkish operations inside Syria, including the Euphrates Shield campaign, in which Turkish forces and allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) units captured large amounts of territory from the Islamic State group (IS), and a Turkish-led move into Idlib last year. Continue reading →
This week’s march, entitled ‘Unite the Right’, by a collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other right-wing extremists in Charlottesville, Virginia, has thrown the United States into turmoil. Continue reading →
Soviet architecture and ‘socialist realism’ more generally have a poor reputation. These movements and their products are disdained by many, and deprecated in artistic terms. But each, despite their associations with totalitarianism and mass murder, can instead be seen as testament to the power of beauty, even in its monumental form. And all of this can be true despite the designs and intentions of the less than pleasant people who held political power in the Soviet Union. 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 →