Tag Archives: Bashar Al-Assad

The Desert of Lop. Chasing illusions in Syria*

‘The truth is this. ‘When a man is riding by night through this desert, then he hears spirits talking and will suppose them to be his companions… ‘Sometimes in the night they are conscious of a noise like the clatter of a great cavalcade of riders, away from the road; and believing that these are of their own company, they go where they hear the noise, and when day breaks, find they are victims of … Continue reading

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Reality check: Europe, Libya, refugees and the nature of truth…

The third section of this four-part blog, all of which was written on Saturday 23 January, deals with the United Nations’ proposal for a ‘Government of National Accord’ which is – as I point out – not a government, not ‘national’ in the sense of belonging to or being ‘Libyan’, and is not the focus of any ‘accord’ within Libya. Today (Monday 25th January), the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) – one of Libya’s two … Continue reading

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Libya and Syria, and the definition of ‘agreement’

When is a political agreement not a political agreement? When it is neither political, nor an agreement. As jokes go, it may not be the best you’ll hear in the next few days (though in the UK, at least, the standards of Christmas cracker gags vary wildly enough that it might), but despite many representations to the contrary, it’s a pretty accurate description of Libya’s last eight days.

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The impulse to act: Syria, and the case against bombing IS

              On  Wednesday 2nd  December Parliament will vote on whether to extend its bombing campaign in the Middle East from Iraq to Syria. It’s an extraordinarily bad idea.

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The United Nations: Syria, and the urgent need for change

I began the week with a public talk I gave about Libya and the wider international refugee crisis, in part to publicise my book, The Toss of a Coin: voices from a modern crisis.

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Doing good, and why it is ‘good’ to do it

Last summer, I discussed the situation in Syria with a young Syrian man who was working to deliver aid to the people of Aleppo. We spoke via Skype on a Thursday afternoon, concluding our conversation at 5.30pm UK time, (7.30pm Syrian time), and promising to speak again on Saturday (the Syrian ‘weekend’ being Friday, the day on which people attend Mosque).

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Root Causes

When the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings began in early 2011, analysts took stock of the likely outcomes and declared that Syria was ‘immune’ to the phenomenon. The reality was sadly entirely different. It is extremely difficult to be certain exactly how many people have been killed in Syria since protests against the government of Bashar Al-Assad began in early March 2011, as neither the government nor its current strongest opponent, IS, keeps count of civilian deaths, … Continue reading

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