Tag Archives: Raqqa

Defeating Daesh?

Despite the rhetoric, the campaign against the Islamic State group (IS) is not over. The international coalition is sounding almost triumphalist, giving developments a sunny gloss and frequently repeating claim that it is ‘defeating Daesh’.

This is true in a way, and success in one aspect – the protracted war which has pushed IS out of many cities and towns in Syria and Iraq – cannot be denied. Continue reading

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Without Isil to Unify against, There Is Little to Hold Iraq and Syria’s Factions Together

The battle for Raqqa has been declared won. The eastern Syrian city, once de facto capital of Isil’s self-proclaimed caliphate, has been captured by the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Continue reading

Officially Incompetent

Western politicians failed in their response to the Arab Spring. National leaders saw and saluted the emergence of pro-democracy protests in 2011, but they did little more. When they acted, as in Libya, Western leaders did too little and thought not at all about the future; when they did not act, in Syria most notably, they ushered in a state of affairs where war crimes go unpunished, and dictators engaged in mass murder need fear no redress. Continue reading

Life under the Islamic State

Review – The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from ‘Islamic State’ by Samer

The Syrian war has produced a great deal of writing, but little of real permanence. Most of its derivative works are journalistic accounts and dry geopolitical analyses. It has yet to produce a new novelist, poet, or memoirist of note, rather than simply providing new material for old hands. Some day, a great book about the Syrian civil war will be written – something that draws deeply from the conflict and sets the tone for a changed nation, region, and world. Such an era-defining conflict will have that effect. Continue reading

Fake News and the Two Sides of the ‘Digital Caliphate’

Despite ground losses in Iraq’s Mosul and Syr­ia’s Raqqa, the Islamic State (ISIS) continues to have a presence that incites or inspires online. Continue reading

White Phosphorus and the Judgement of History

White phosphorus is an easily produced compound that has numerous military applications. It burns brightly and persistently. In battle, it can create a smokescreen that can hide troop movements.

These uses are not objection­able but the status of white phosphorus is complex. It is not normally used offensively, though it sometimes is employed as a makeshift weapon. When this happens, it can be dangerous. Continue reading

Talking Turkey

Turkey’s recent referendum was contentious, its process fraught with problems. Many have suggested that it was illegitimate, but this is less important than the result. That result is significant. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey claimed victory in a constitutional referendum on the question of awarding him sweeping new powers. Continue reading