Tag Archives: Russia

Iranian Empire and Donald Trump

The Syrian war, as well as being a civil conflict, is also an imperial battlefield. But not in quite the way you might expect.

Syria has not been a playground for American imperial activities. Until recently it has seen far too little intervention from the United States. But two countries – at best regional powers – which have imperial ambitions of their own, have filled that gap. 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

Assad and Legitimacy Without Victory

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

Battle for Mosul Shows a Retreating Caliphate

Recapturing eastern Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS) represents a notable achieve­ment for Iraq’s security forces. This presents a marked contrast to the disorder with which the Iraqi Army fought the sudden advance of ISIS in 2014. Then Iraq’s armed forces fell back and ISIS advanced to within 64 km of Baghdad. Continue reading

Safe Zones and Illusory Promises

Donald Trump is not a humanitarian by nature. He is a hard-headed businessman, a guy for whom winning, in a notably zero-sum way, is all.

He wants the United States to win at the expense of everyone else – be it in trade or in war. Morally, the president says he will stop at nothing to achieve this ambition. Continue reading

Emmanuel Macron and Moderation

Emmanuel Macron, leader of France’s En Marche! and candidate for the country’s presidency, seems too good to be true. Intelligent, impeccably educated, charismatic, he is very different to François Fillon, who is officially ‘embattled’ – and certainly looks jaded – after the emergence of a financial scandal regarding the unorthodox (and state subsidised) employment of his wife.

And Macron is nothing at all like the far-right leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen. Continue reading

America Can Still Be a Positive Force in the World

The election of Donald Trump as US president was a big moment. His victory in November reflected a steep change in the way the United States is run and the way it per­ceives other countries.

Trump has little good to say about many international norms that underpin the liberal world order. He disdains NATO. He has no intention of supporting America’s allies among the Syrian opposition. Trump is notably well-disposed towards Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. Continue reading