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
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 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
It is widely held that 2016 was a depressing year.
Much of this collective feeling can be attributed to less substantial events such as the deaths of many famous people, and the pall this seemed to cast over the year as a whole.
But there are more serious reasons for believing that what happened in 2016 leaves the world darker than it was before, and less optimistic when thinking about the future. Continue reading
Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in last week’s presidential election took many by surprise, both domestically and around the world. There was always a chance he would win the keys to the White House, but many – including, it seems, almost all the pollsters – had convinced themselves that his opponent Hillary Clinton would be the next leader of the free world. Continue reading