A while ago, eagerly and secretly, a professor at Edinburgh University began a correspondence over email with a man he thought was a Russian spy. ‘Ivan’, as the spy eventually took signing himself, wanted to thank the professor, Paul McKeigue, for his sterling efforts on matters of mutual interest. Those efforts, Ivan assured the professor, were appreciated by the boys in his office in Moscow.
The premiership of David Cameron was dominated by stories of radicalisation, be it political or religious. While he was prime minister of the United Kingdom, Cameron did not experience an emblematic terrorist attack or series of outrages by jihadists, unlike his predecessor Tony Blair and successor Theresa May; but his term in office did see the rise and apogee of the Islamic State, the debate about British Muslims who travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight in those countries’ wars, and more of the perpetual debates Western societies have about radical religion and radical politics, far-right and far-left, immigration and the suitability of various divergent cultural practices. Continue reading →
Last month, Josie Ensor, a journalist for The Daily Telegraph, described the anguish of covering Syria’s war. Leaving the dissonance of Beirut, and the horrors of Syria, behind, she wrote, ‘Syria is where the world collectively lost its humanity’. Continue reading →
In Idlib, in northern Syria, a ceasefire filled with disquiet has begun. After a difficult beginning, in which fighting continued across the front and marketplaces and hospitals continued to be bombed, aspects of civilian life have resumed. Continue reading →
Libya’s civil war is defined by foreign intervention. The Libyan National Army, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, representing the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, is supported by Russian and Sudanese mercenaries, French weapons and the goodwill of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Continue reading →
With all of the foreign forces operating within Syria, it is not surprising that their soldiers occasionally meet – in times of coordination, or by chance on the road or battlefield. For nations whose policies have stood, at least nominally, in opposition to each other, these meeting might be expected to elicit reactions ranging from frosty to hostile. Continue reading →
Last week, three Turkish soldiers and up to five members of the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) were killed in bombings in Syria. They were patrolling in Raqqa province when they attempted to search two cars and their occupants. Continue reading →