When the forces of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an armed Islamist group which is a successor to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, rolled into Afrin in northern Syria earlier this month, the primary reaction was one of confusion.Continue reading
Tag Archives: Turkey
Turkey’s New Offensive in Syria
For months, even years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened that Turkey’s armed forces and their Syrian rebel allies will launch a new attack on areas currently controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).Continue reading
Turkey and Syrian Refugees
Like all countries which border Syria, Turkey has had to react to the worst of that country’s decade-long civil war. Millions of Syrians have fled, and tens of millions have been displaced.Continue reading
Where Will the War Go Next?
Almost every night in Russia, it seems, a government building bursts into an unexplained fire. Fuel depots, office buildings, infrastructure hubs — and once a bridge. No doubt people have their theories. Insinuation abounds. ‘Karma is a cruel thing,’ one Ukrainian official has said on Telegram. But in the main, both the Russian government and Ukraine maintain an eloquent silence.Continue reading
Liberators or Occupiers?
The fourth anniversary of the start of the battle for Raqqa has just passed, during which time the city was recaptured from the Islamic State (IS).
Raqqa had been IS’ Syrian capital, and it took over four months for the liberators, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to wrest back control of the city in October 2017 with international support.Continue reading
As Gulf states court the regime, will Syria’s sham election cement Assad’s survival?
At present, early voting is taking place in Syria as the country stages its 2021 presidential election.
The election is a sham, and everyone knows that Bashar al-Assad, who has ruled the country since the death of his father Hafez in 2000, will be declared the victor.Continue reading
With a seeming spirit of negotiation sweeping the Middle East, it’s easy enough to make rash predictions. Saudi Arabia taking to Iran and the Assad regime in Syria – Egypt and Turkey talking to each other. Many commentators, notably in the United States, are already treating this as a fundamental change to the old ways of doing things, and in doing so are taking leave of things we know to be true.Continue reading
Robert Fisk: Correspondent or Storyteller?
Per many accounts, Robert Fisk, a journalist who died last week, was a notably courteous man. Since his death I have spoken to a number who met him and knew his work. They describe a journalist who spoke politely to crowds after events and at signings for his books, and who reacted to praise and attention with becoming satisfaction and pleasure.Continue reading
Misunderstanding Turkey and Islamism
Understanding Turkey since the dissolution of the Ottoman empire has proven difficult for westerners. The decaying magnificence of the Ottoman years was a vivid adornment to past debate. Nineteenth century diplomatists like David Urquhart defended the Sublime Porte as a reasonable counterbalance to Russia, and publicity-minded moralists like Gladstone decried Ottoman atrocities, all while the empire became more visibly moribund and threadbare. Continue reading
Syria’s Civil War in Libya
Libya’s civil war increasingly appears to have drawn in the world.
The war, whose new form took shape years after the defeat and death of Muammar Gaddafi, now features the following players. First, the Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli. It’s recognised by the United Nations, and in its defence, NATO’s secretary-general has recently suggested, the signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty ought to stand ready to intervene.Continue reading