When Donald Trump ordered the use of 59 Tomahawk missiles to strike a Syrian air base operated by the Assad regime, many observers were taken almost completely by surprise. There had been rumblings, no doubt, suggestions that, after the terrible chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib governorate, something might be done. But this was merely hinted at, mentioned in line with a range of possibilities. That was a demonstration that options had not been over-hastily removed from the table. Continue reading
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
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
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
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
The tragedy of what has happened in Syria has spawned numerous artistic renderings. This is only fit and proper considering the historic nature of what has taken place there – the strength of revolutionary sentiment, the extreme violence of the regime’s initial crackdown on protests, the biblical refugee crisis which has now drawn in neighbouring countries and created desperate, wrenching scenes in the Mediterranean and in mainland Europe. Continue reading
The brutality of the war in Syria is known: its cadences well-established. Regime barrel bombs and chemical weapon attacks, Russian air strikes, and the many outrages committed by the Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) – all of these combine together in the mind.
This cruelty occurs in the open. But worse – if that were possible – is that which is hidden away in regime prisons, locked away with the prisoners. Occasionally, news escapes the confines of these places of suffering. Continue reading