The name Muqtada al-Sadr used to inspire fear. His brand of Shia sectarianism contributed greatly to the turmoil following the deposition of Saddam Hussein in 2003. His militia, the Mahdi Army, fought against the United States and the forces of the reconstituted Iraqi state. It also engaged in street violence and intimidation. Continue reading
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
As the final assault on the stronghold of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul is in the works, important questions are going unanswered. Chief among them is: What will ISIS do in Iraq after Mosul falls? Continue reading
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
For many years, Kurds in Iraq and across the Middle East said they felt abandoned. Kurdish minorities were ill-treated in many countries, with their political ambitions repressed. Continue reading
I imagine you have heard of it already, billed as both a great piece of investigative journalism and a terrible crime against literature: the presumed unmasking of the hitherto unknown Elena Ferrante, an Italian writer of style whose essential feature, whose animating influence, had been anonymity. She could have been anyone. That was the thrill; that was a serious attraction. Continue reading
Earlier this month in Syria, a siege was broken. Rebels in Aleppo, aided by more religiously extreme elements and passively supported by humanitarians the world over, succeeded in meeting – ceremoniously shaking hands, like the Allies during the Second World War at the river Elbe in 1945 – by breaking the lines of those troops loyal to the Assad regime and its foreign backers. Continue reading