Focus on Syria has dwindled since the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But over a decade after the country’s bloody civil war first started, the conflict rumbles on. Armed groups continue to jockey for position. The death toll, caused by Russia’s air force, Iran’s militias, and Bashar al-Assad’s forces, continues to rise.Continue reading
It is an immense irony, as the great orientalist Bernard Lewis was fond of remarking, that Israel – the most vibrant and enthusiastic democracy in the Middle East – has to put up with the world’s worst electoral system. Its governments frequently collapse. Perhaps they do it philanthropically, to allow citizens once again the pleasure of going to the polls.
Israel’s longest serving leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is back. His return confirms once again an iron clad rule of Israeli politics: never write Bibi off. A few years ago, his opponents briefly thought they had vanquished him for good.Continue reading
The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is a fool. His countrymen know this well. They have lived under his rule for almost thirty years, and their country is poor and underdeveloped. Lukashenko used to wear with pride a title awarded to him by the international media, “Europe’s last dictator.” His most recent fiscal tactic, intended to fight inflation, has been to ban price increases by state decree. Obviously, he is not a deep thinker.Continue reading
Until this week, the prospect of global famine had disappeared from the headlines, but earlier in Russia’s war against Ukraine, a sinister possibility had begun to take shape.
Ukraine is a breadbasket. Its produce feeds the world. And Russia, knowing this, had developed a plan to starve the world instead. Its soldiers would wreck Ukrainian farmland and kill its farmers. Russians would steal and sell all the Ukrainian grain it could. And the Black Sea – a vital artery through which most of Ukraine’s food exports travelled – would be blockaded by the Russian navy. Food shipments would not be let through. The world would starve, Ukraine’s economy would suffer, and – in Vladimir Putin’s mind – he would be the victor.Continue reading
As Iranian munitions have hurtled through the air at the front line in the Donbas, and as Iranian suicide drones have smashed into Ukrainian cities, Tehran has denied everything – unconvincingly. The most recent was Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, who said on Saturday: ‘The Islamic Republic of Iran has not and will not provide any weapon to be used in the war in Ukraine’. With the piety beloved of hypocrites everywhere, he went on: ‘We believe that the arming of each side of the crisis will prolong the war’.Continue reading
It depends on when you are reading this but it’s possible that as you do, Russian missiles are still falling on Kyiv. The Ukrainian capital, and cities across the country, have been subject to a devastating missile barrage last night and this morning.Continue reading
Ukraine is awash with foreign-made weapons, something that is true of both sides. While Ukraine uses American-made rocket systems, French, German and British artillery pieces, and anti-tank weaponry from across the globe, Russia is resorting to foreign suppliers of its own. This means artillery shells from North Korea and, increasingly, drones from Iran.Continue reading
Bafflement is not quite the right word. Instead, Ukrainian officials and their allies now see Germany through a confused form of anger. Things had started out well. Within days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, and in seeming response to international condemnation, Germany had done the following, against type:Continue reading
For years, countering kleptocracy — dirty money looted from the poorer parts of the world and embedded in more comfortable jurisdictions — has been the dogged pursuit of very few. Even in January of this year, I’m told, anti-kleptocracy campaigners were feeling like they were on the back foot.Continue reading
Some people are always telling you that the world is soon to end. In the old days many of them would wear sandwich boards describing near-term doom, and not wash. Now, their cousins in the environmental movement glue themselves to oil refineries and don’t shave. In each case, they drip with urgency. The oceans will boil, the land will burn. Your children will fry. Or, alternatively, the Lord will return and take only the righteous to their reward.Continue reading