In the ways statesmen and the nations they lead interact with the rest of the world, gestures can almost match actions in importance. This is why, when some politicians make gestures, they are greeted with the affirmation normally reserved for action. Continue reading
If one thing typifies the Syrian civil war and all its quotidian brutality, it is the prevalence of siege tactics. Like the war, sieges are protracted and grinding. They are more brutal than other forms of fighting, aping civil conflicts. And, as in sieges, in Syria the most horrific crimes can occur out of sight of the rest of the world, likely out of mind. Continue reading
Amid all that has occurred since, it is easy to forget what happened in Syria at the start of this month. First, as February began, the regime of Bashar al-Assad was credibly accused of several chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas, during routine airstrikes against non-military targets. And second, days later, the American-led coalition killed over 100 pro-regime fighters who had attacked a detachment of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US troops escorting them east of the Euphrates. Continue reading
The past few days have brought a stark reminder.
Since the start of February, reports have surfaced of several chemical attacks in Syria, apparently undertaken using chlorine gas. Among these, chlorine is said to have been used in Douma, in besieged East Ghouta, and Saraqeb, in Idlib province. Continue reading
In some ways the Islamic State (ISIS) seemed to be a perfect enemy. Its initial success was so shocking, its modus operandi so brutal, that it focused minds across the world. The creation of a violent, theocratic statelet threatened not only the innocents within its areas of operation, but by implication every state. ISIS seemed a common enemy par excellence. 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
The battle for Raqqa has been declared won. The eastern Syrian city, once de facto capital of Isil’s self-proclaimed caliphate, has been captured by the primarily Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Continue reading