Near & Middle East
Haunting Memories: Escape From Daraya

Haunting Memories: Escape From Daraya

Journalist Rahaf Haboub grew up in Daraya, a Damascus suburb besieged by pro-government forces for more than three years. She and her family fled in fall 2012 after the government targeted the area with airstrikes and barrel bombs – these are her recollections of those harrowing times. More»

From the FARC to the Houthis

From the FARC to the Houthis

Some 3,000 Colombian nationals have gone to fight and, if it comes to it, die in defense of the UAE since 2011. Of this number, at least 300 are now serving in Yemen at the Port of Aden. What distinguishes these men in Yemen from the UAE’s other “guest workers,” though, is that they will be offered citizenship, a rare privilege not often extended to other expatriate communities. More»

Putin in Syria

Putin in Syria

Apparently, the Russians are leaving. Seemingly out of nowhere, Vladimir Putin declared that the operation had “largely achieved” its aims, and Russian forces would be winding down operations in Syria. Not that this means the Russian military base will be dismantled. Far from it. More»

Kurdish Protest Literature

Kurdish Protest Literature

Despite years of criticism, the European Commission is backing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s nascent dictatorship, in order to deal with its self-designated “refugee crisis.” The emerging agreement is that, according to the Turkish proposal, “for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU member states.” More»

The War on Terror is Not Happening

The War on Terror is Not Happening

War has become the absence of politics by other means. As democratic institutions lose their legitimacy, widespread uncertainty is being mirrored by the performance of civilisational showdown. Baudrillard’s arguments in The Gulf War Did Not Take Place have resonance because of how the War on Terror has radically expanded the spectacle of combat.  More»

The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, Revisited

The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, Revisited

Jean Baudillard thought that Operation Desert Storm should not be considered a war. Rather, despite containing the material features of one, it was at once real, and a simulation. Baudillard’s logic is that the term “war” was used to legitimise a performance, and it is critical to apply his logic to the War on Terror.  More»

Baghdad Sketches

Baghdad Sketches

Although never in Baghdad for long at a time, I generally had occasion to spend four or five days there every other month. The life in any city is complex and interesting, but here it was especially so. We were among a totally foreign people, but the ever-felt intangible barrier of color was not present.  More»

Iranian American Self-Hatred

Iranian American Self-Hatred

“We were white until the Arabs came and raped our women,” is the sort of thing you’ll hear Iranian Americans say, when expressing their distaste for Islam. A reverse Orientalism in a sense, they will often refer to Arabs–Gulf Arabs, mainly– as ‘locust eaters’ (malakh khor) More»

Thatcherite Wahhabism

Thatcherite Wahhabism

Saudi Arabia is facing a systemic overhaul. Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman recently indicated as much during an interview with The Economist, by answering “most certainly” to a question about whether or not Saudi Arabia is facing “a Thatcher revolution.”  More»

Some Alternative Courses in Iraq

Some Alternative Courses in Iraq

Because of the gravity of the situation in Iraq and of its consequences for Iraq, the United States, the region, and the world, the Iraq Study Group has carefully considered the full range of alternative approaches for moving forward. We recognize that there is no perfect solution and that all that have been suggested have flaws. More»

Waiting for Nimr to Die

Waiting for Nimr to Die

Saudi Arabia finally executed Shi’ite cleric and political dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday. Regional tensions have escalated dramatically after Nimr’s death led to violent protests at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, causing a diplomatic crisis. The question is why this happened now. More»

Decolonising "Islamofascism"

Decolonising “Islamofascism”

“Islamofascism” is nearly three decades old now. Entering popular usage following the 9/11 attacks, it has most recently been repurposed to fit Islamic State. The term was first coined by Malise Ruthven in a 1990 article in The Independent. Ruthven wrote that “authoritarian government, not to say Islamofascism, is the rule rather than the exception from Morocco to Pakistan.”  More»