Turkey’s recent referendum was contentious, its process fraught with problems. Many have suggested that it was illegitimate, but this is less important than the result. That result is significant. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey claimed victory in a constitutional referendum on the question of awarding him sweeping new powers. 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
Much is made of the foreign fighters who flock to join the ‘caliphate’ Islamic State (IS) claims to have established in Iraq and Syria.
Although many foreign fighters are from Middle Eastern and North African countries, the international focus is on those from prosperous Western nations. These people are many things: a clear and present threat to national security, something of a rebuke to the societies from which they came, and also an important puzzle. Continue reading
The nation of Turkey has, it seems, few defenders. Once the receptacle of popular goodwill and support – in Europe generally and not least in Britain, where many public figures advocated on behalf of its joining the European Union – the country has become instead something of a pariah. In the increasingly fevered final stages of Britain’s EU referendum campaign, Turkey (and its projected entrance into the Union, with its single market and free movement of labour) is used as a byword for increased migration, something which has become an essential preoccupation of many British voters. Continue reading
Britain’s referendum campaign on whether to leave the European Union has become decidedly bitter. Indeed, the atmosphere is frequently considered ‘poisonous’, as those who advocate for Britain to remain within the EU are called ‘traitors’ by their opponents, and as many who support the Leave campaign are stereotyped as ignorant, malevolent or both. Continue reading
Review – The Russian Origins of the First World War by Sean McMeekin
The First World War is hardly a novel subject for serious historical study. Its origins in particular, in the same way the end of the Roman Republic and the creation of an empire captures the attention of scholars and general readers, demands attention; it is both a vital, epoch-defining event and a perfect encapsulation of something deeper – and such a suggestion is highly attractive, not only to those who seek to discover (or invent) cast iron laws of history, but to anyone seeking a more crystalline understanding of the past. Continue reading