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
Leaving the European Union (EU) is beginning to get difficult. In recent weeks the prime minister has faced muted opposition in the House of Commons and active defiance in the Lords. Continue reading
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
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