Syria’s civil conflict is not over, or even nearly over, but some of its participants are keen that this perception travels. They hope it becomes commonly-held. The regime of Bashar al-Assad and its Russian allies are busy pretending the war is winding down and that they have won. Assad himself met the Russian president Vladimir Putin in Sochi last month in the simulation of a victory lap. Continue reading
Around the world and in Syria itself, there is an idea which is gaining traction.
This idea holds, in effect, that the war is coming to an end. Its proponents suggest that things are beginning to fall into place; that the situation is beginning to become conclusive; and that, very soon, the country will reach something like stasis, or even a final state. Continue reading
Diplomacy, to pervert Carl von Clausewitz’s most famous epigram, is the continuation of war by other means. Its practitioners can use diplomacy to support allies or publicly rebuke adversaries. In the post-Cold War era, the severing of diplomatic relations has often served as a substitute for conflict. Continue reading
Emmanuel Macron has a difficult task ahead of him.
The new French president is stellar in many ways. Continue reading
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
Emmanuel Macron, leader of France’s En Marche! and candidate for the country’s presidency, seems too good to be true. Intelligent, impeccably educated, charismatic, he is very different to François Fillon, who is officially ‘embattled’ – and certainly looks jaded – after the emergence of a financial scandal regarding the unorthodox (and state subsidised) employment of his wife.
And Macron is nothing at all like the far-right leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen. Continue reading
Donald Trump is about to become president of the United States of America. As remarkable as this phrase still seems, it’s going to happen. As such, his pronouncements matter; his every utterance is newsworthy.
This is why Trump’s first interview with a British newspaper, conducted by Michael Gove for The Times, is notable. Alongside the expected comments on Brexit, which Trump greeted warmly and enthusiastically, the president-elect also discussed the usefulness of NATO, the situation in Syria, migration to Europe and, inevitably, Russia and Vladimir Putin. Continue reading