Last week saw the death of Ramsey Clark. He was 93 and a former attorney general of the United States. By the end of his life, Clark was a reasonably obscure figure, which is possibly the reason why those who wrote his obituary felt both willing and able to gloss over so much of what gave his life its shape and animation.Continue reading
It has long been known that Iran exerts significant power and possesses long reach in its neighbouring countries.
After the deposition of Saddam Hussein, and the subsequent withdrawal of the United States in 2011, Iran’s influence in Iraq became dominant. Continue reading
Even in wartime, bureaucracies continue to produce weights of paper. Baathist bureaucracies are no exception. Throughout Syria’s war, the extent to which the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s worst excesses have found their way onto official paper has surprised onlookers. Couched among the death certificates issued by state-run prisons lies the documentation, officially signed, legally witnessed, describing a campaign of mass murder. It is punctilious, and in plain sight. Continue reading
Day or night, someone is likely to know where we are. Our friends and family, for one, or our colleagues. Someone will have an idea where to find us, if necessary. 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
On Syria, the confused state of American policy persists.
This month, the president, Donald Trump, authorised strikes, in tandem with Britain and France, to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for its use of chemical weapons in Douma, eastern Ghouta. That might be taken to suggest that the United States and allies were prepared to act – to restrain brutality, to support stability, and to prevent the eruption of general chaos. Continue reading
The biggest of the stories swirling about Donald Trump this week concerns, not a tweet (as is ordinary), but a book.
The president is famously unlettered, professing little time for reading; and others attest that Trump has little interest in any printed matter that does not contain his photograph. Continue reading
The death of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh demonstrates a lot about the nature of the country’s civil war. Saleh was killed by Houthi rebels, with whom he had previously been allied and against whom he publicly turned two days before. Continue reading
It was a swift victory, one all the more remarkable for being so unexpected.
After the fall of Mosul, which had taken many months and cost innumerable lives, the attention of the Iraqi state and the international coalition, and the watching world, fell on Tal Afar. It was one of the Islamic State’s last major urban territories in Iraq. 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