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Wonders of Destruction in Arabic Fiction

Historians of war and society would like to believe that military conflicts have fixed beginnings and ends. Conventional depictions of the Lebanese civil war are no exception and typically confine that conflict within the notional temporal parameters of 1975–90. But the key aggravating features generally identified with the events of the Lebanese civil war—class resentments, echoes of the Arab-Israeli conflict on a regional scale, domestic geographical inequalities, sectarian rancor, and political infighting across the Lebanese scene—had been accumulating since 1948, and even earlier. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Mar 1, 2015 - 6 comments

A daring plan to rebuild Syria — no matter who wins the war

In terms of sheer devastation, Syria today is worse off than Germany at the end of World War II. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 22, 2015 - 22 comments

Women of the Islamic State: A Manifesto

Women of the Islamic State: A manifesto on women by the Al-Khanssaa Brigade is a manifesto by women, for women "that aims to clarify the realities of life and the hallowed existence of women in the Islamic State, in Iraq and in al- Sham, and to refute the rumours that detractors advance against it." [more inside]
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Feb 8, 2015 - 57 comments

Follow the trend lines, not the headlines.

How can we get a less hyperbolic assessment of the state of the world? Certainly not from daily journalism. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as violence has not vanished from the world, there will always be enough incidents to fill the evening news. And since the human mind estimates probability by the ease with which it can recall examples, newsreaders will always perceive that they live in dangerous times.
posted by ellieBOA on Jan 2, 2015 - 36 comments

How to Defeat the Islamic State

How to Defeat the Islamic State. "Over the last thirteen years, America’s foreign policy has consisted mostly of defining what we don’t want: Saddam, Al-Qaida, Qaddafi, Boko Haram, the Islamic State. But we have failed to define what we do want. Rather than pausing to define the ultimate aim of our involvement – the very point of war for military action is just a means to a political end – we have rushed ahead anyway: Ready, Shoot, Aim. Unfortunately, we now have quite the track record of removing one monster only to find a more brutal monster in his place. This global war will never end without a coherent American strategy and we don’t have one for Iraq and Syria at the time of this writing. [...] To defeat the Islamic State and to further American interests, the United States must create a legitimate secular, political alternative for Iraq’s Sunnis."
posted by Golden Eternity on Nov 26, 2014 - 111 comments

According to one senior official, “He wasn’t up to the job.”

President Obama will announce today that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is submitting his resignation. According to the New York Times, "The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ." [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Nov 24, 2014 - 98 comments

The Islamic State Versus Lebanon

As the Islamic State massacred its way throughout Iraq and Syria this summer, a separate battle took place in neighboring Lebanon, as IS fighters invaded the Lebanese border town of Arsal, beheading captured soldiers and unleashing waves of lethal car bombs. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Nov 9, 2014 - 10 comments

It’s so starving, Aleppo, it’s so exhausted

It sounds like a jet approaching, and all of you, for a matter of instants, stare at one another, your words stifled in your mouths; but it’s only a gate that slides and shuts. A hatchet chopping firewood is a burst from a Kalashnikov; the step of a woman’s heel, a sniper shot. We look normal, in Aleppo. Fear is a cancer that wears us out only from within. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Oct 26, 2014 - 25 comments

Daily Life in Raqqa under Isis

"Vanityfair.com received the below text from a Syrian who claims Raqqa as a hometown[...]Artist Molly Crabapple has completed sketches based on the scenes presented in the source’s photos."
posted by OmieWise on Oct 6, 2014 - 36 comments

Syria's First Responders

Whoever saves a life - In a war with many villains, these are the good guys. Earlier this month Khaled Hajjo and the majority of the Hanano team were briefly arrested by a rebel brigade in the city, and then forced to flee to Turkey.
posted by TheProudAardvark on Sep 22, 2014 - 5 comments

A new and terrifying state has been born.

Patrick Cockburn a Middle East correspondent since 1979 has a couple of new articles:
Isis consolidates and The Underrated Saudi Connection, Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed.
posted by adamvasco on Aug 26, 2014 - 384 comments

What's that rocket?

Arms Identification With Wikipedia, Holiday Photographs, and Shoe Size Conversion Charts - from the recently launched bellin¿cat 'by and for citizen investigative journalist'. [previously] [more previously]
posted by unliteral on Aug 20, 2014 - 9 comments

Isis claims to have beheaded an American journalist missing in Syria

Video has emerged showing the beheading of journalist James Foley. James Foley has been reportedly beheaded by Isis in retaliation for US airstrikes in Iraq. He was working in Syria when he was reported missing in 2012. [more inside]
posted by lpcxa0 on Aug 19, 2014 - 266 comments

The wistful specter of what might've been if only he'd been listened to

From his time in Cairo, Lawrence was aware of the extravagant promises the British government had made to Hussein in order to raise the Arab Revolt: full independence for virtually the entire Arab world..............His first act of sedition — and by most any standards, a treasonous one — was to inform Faisal of the existence of Sykes-Picot.....The True Story of Lawrence of Arabia . Previously and Previously
posted by lalochezia on Jul 1, 2014 - 11 comments

Isis declares caliphate in Iraq and Syria

The militant Sunni group Isis has said it is establishing a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders," its spokesman warns. Standing on a border sign he threatens to "break the borders" of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 30, 2014 - 161 comments

1,000 Days of Syria

He tells you he is one of the martyrs now. He tells you it is not safe for you to stay in your apartment, that soldiers may come soon. At any moment. You agree. It is time to go. You don't have the leisure to cry now over Ali's death now but you are eternally saddened. You pack only the most essential belongings for yourself, Emad and Yara. Before you head down the stairs with your children, you take one last look back at your home and whisper, xaatrak to yourself. Goodbye.

1,000 Days of Syria is a "choose your own adventure" historical fiction newsgame, in which you live the first 1,000 days of the Syrian conflict through the eyes of one of three optional characters. Guardian article, wiki, trailer. [more inside]
posted by alona on Jun 4, 2014 - 3 comments

40 Maps of the Middle East

Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack on May 6, 2014 - 8 comments

The Red Line and the Rat Line

"The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. ‘Nobody wants to talk about all this,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can’t say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can’t go back and blame Erdoğan.’"
A report by Seymour Hersh alleges that Turkish PM Erdoğan's National Intelligence Organization is responsible for last August's sarin attack in Syria, in an attempt to force Obama's hand on air strikes. [more inside]
posted by p3on on Apr 17, 2014 - 46 comments

“I don’t speak much Arabic, so that was a hard problem."

The All-American Life and Death of Eric Harroun. Eric Harroun, a U.S. Army vet on disability labeled "The American Jihadist" until the case against him unraveled, has passed away at home in Arizona.
posted by blue suede stockings on Apr 11, 2014 - 20 comments

OSINT

Inside The One-Man Intelligence Unit That Exposed The Secrets And Atrocities Of Syria's War
He had no formal intelligence training or security clearance that gave him access to classified documents. He could not speak or read Arabic. He had never set foot in the Middle East, unless you count the time he changed planes in Dubai en route to Manila, or his trip to visit his in-laws in Turkey. Yet in the 18 months since Higgins had begun blogging about Syria, his barebones site, Brown Moses [previously], had become the foremost source of information on the weapons used in Syria's deadly war. Using nothing more sophisticated than an Asus laptop, he had uncovered evidence of weapons imported into Syria from Iran. He had been the first person to identify widely-banned cluster bombs deployed by Syrian forces. By The New York Times' own admission, his findings had offered a key tip that helped the newspaper prove that Saudi Arabia had funneled arms to opposition fighters in Syria.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 9, 2014 - 12 comments

Barrel Bomb

Assad Barrels, graphic film about the past few weeks barrel bombing in Daraya.
posted by stbalbach on Feb 3, 2014 - 28 comments

Evidence of 'industrial-scale killing' by Syria

A team of war crimes prosecutors has produced a report [PDF, alternate PDF] showing "clear evidence [...] of systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government". The report is based on more than fifty thousand photographs, showing approximately eleven thousand individuals. The photographs, which were taken to substantiate the victims' execution, demonstrate that many of the detainees were emaciated and had been tortured.
Primary coverage of the report has been produced by The Guardian and CNN.
posted by Joe in Australia on Jan 20, 2014 - 41 comments

Who is ANNA?

Warning: Graphic footage. Little is known about the origins of the Abkhazian Network News Agency, ANNA. What we do know is that the agency, nominally from the breakaway Georgian republic Abkhazia, has been covering the brutal Syrian Civil War while embedded with the SAA on its Youtube channel (be sure to enable English captions). Defiant and unapologetic about its pro-government position, the videos nevertheless provide a unique perspective on what is perhaps the most well-documented war in history. Brief sample: GoPros mounted on tanks, civilian traffic driving by tanks, near misses, and close quarters combat. Sometimes the other side is taking a video too. [via /r/CombatFootage and /r/syriancivilwar] [more inside]
posted by mikepaco on Jan 19, 2014 - 19 comments

Bashar Al Assad: An Intimate Profile of a Mass Murderer

And if a series of well-timed massacres by the regime would provoke outrage in the West, Assad also knew that images of carnage would cause Gulf states to arm the Islamist opposition and escalate the sectarian warfare. This was his strategy: to make intervention so unpalatable that the international community would take no steps to alter the course of the conflict. “These jihadists who have come in, largely courtesy of private Gulf money, these are his enemies of choice,” says Frederic C. Hof, the Obama administration’s former envoy to the Syrian opposition and currently a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “I call it a coalition of co-dependency.” - An in-depth piece in The New Republic Examines Bashar Al Assad
posted by beisny on Dec 20, 2013 - 10 comments

You are all perverts, and we are going to kill you to save the world.

How Jihadists Are Blackmailing, Torturing, and Killing Gay Syrians. Even between the plush sofas and mood lighting of one of Beirut’s hippest bars, Ram shook with fear as he relived his ordeal. He turned his large green eyes from me to the translator and then back to me again, speaking in a low voice, even though we were the only people in the room. "I think I was targeted for two reasons: because I'm a Druze, and because I’m gay," he said. "They told us, ‘You are all perverts, and we are going to kill you to save the world.'"
posted by treepour on Nov 13, 2013 - 16 comments

Nobel Peace Prize goes to OPCW, citing Syrian conflict

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, with the Norwegian Nobel Committee saying, "Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons." [more inside]
posted by Etrigan on Oct 11, 2013 - 37 comments

Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest in the Syria debate: An analysis of the defense industry ties of experts and think tanks who commented on military intervention
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Oct 10, 2013 - 14 comments

We have a very extensive knowledge of what is happening in Syria.

The Spies Inside Damascus: The Mossad's secret war on the Syrian WMD machine.
On Aug. 20, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began shifting around or using his chemical weapons, Obama would consider that "a red line." The implication was that such a move would lead to American intervention in Syria. Some officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry believed that Obama drew the line because he believed it would never be crossed. If that was his assumption, he made it based, in part, on assessments received from the Israeli intelligence services, which have waged a multidecade clandestine campaign to strip Assad of his deadliest weapons -- and which also have emerged as the United States' primary partners in collecting information on Middle Eastern regimes.
posted by andoatnp on Sep 21, 2013 - 22 comments

By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN Published: September 11, 2013

A Plea for Caution From Russia (SLNYT) My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
posted by philip-random on Sep 11, 2013 - 316 comments

I'll take "What is Syria" for $100, Alex

9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask
posted by desjardins on Sep 1, 2013 - 425 comments

Fettering discretion

Yesterday the House of Commons and the House of Lords debated a response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. The government lost the debate and the commons rejected military action. David Cameron said "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the Government will act accordingly.." A government MP explains why she voted against and Charles Stross makes a suggestion for what could be done (distributing gas masks, field decontamination showers, NAAK kits, and medical resources to everyone in the conflict zones)
posted by Gilgongo on Aug 30, 2013 - 394 comments

Twerking kills... or does it?

The big news yesterday was Miley Cyrus' twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs, and revelations of Syria's flagrant violations of international law by using chemical weapons against its own civilians. [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Aug 27, 2013 - 371 comments

To the honorable doctor, hello

Casualties from the Syrian civil war are being treated in Israeli hospitals, some of them with referrals from Syrian doctors. The identities of the patients and the route they have taken is being kept secret for fear of repercussions from authorities in Syria, which is formally at war with Israel. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Aug 26, 2013 - 13 comments

As the Sabres Rattle

Patrick Cockburn: Syria's Civil War is complicated and from the LRB in May: The quagmire is turning out to be even deeper and more dangerous than it was in Iraq.
Did Syria gas its own people? The evidence is mounting.
The Guardian postulates that it was Assad's ruthless brother who mastermind alleged the Syria gas attack.
posted by adamvasco on Aug 25, 2013 - 524 comments

How War in Syria Turned Ordinary Engineers Into Deadly Weapons Inventors

Makers
 of War. "The arms manufacturers of Aleppo used to be ordinary men—network administrators, housepainters, professors. Then came the bloody Syrian crisis. Now they must use all their desperate creativity to supply their fellow rebels with the machinery of death." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 19, 2013 - 18 comments

"No doubt about it, journalists are targets now,"

Shooting The Messengers
So, what guides a journalist's decisions in these unlovely places? The frequently repeated maxim that "no story is worth dying for" rings a little hollow. The awkward truth is that, in this field, personal bravery is simultaneously discouraged and rewarded.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 13, 2013 - 2 comments

Hezbollah Goes to War in Syria for Assad

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a major speech today to a large gathering of party leaders where he confirmed that Hezbollah militia members have been sent to fight in Syria. Watch him explain in his own words his reasons behind this decision (English Subtitles). (via LiveLeak) Hezbollah soldiers are said to be playing a key role in the battle for Qusayr a strategic rebel held town situated on the road between Lebanon and Homs. More background on the battle of Quasyr is available at Syria Deeply a site featuring the works of independent journalists covering the Syrian civil war. [Previously]
posted by humanfont on May 25, 2013 - 125 comments

WSJ's Middle East Real Time blog

Since the end of March, the Wall Street Journal's new Middle East Real Time blog has written about Turkey's "unstoppable" export boom in soap operas, Saudi Arabia's "life after jihad" rehab program, the persistence of obviously fraudulent bomb detectors across Iraq, YouTube branding discussions among Syrian rebel factions, a rising media star Sunni cleric in Lebanon, a post-revolutionary Cairo arts festival, and attempts to overcome conservative objections and change the Saudi Thursday-Friday weekend to match the rest of the business world. Previous non-paywalled WSJ Real Time blogs include Korea, China, Canada, India, Brussels, Emerging Europe, Japan.
posted by mediareport on May 9, 2013 - 16 comments

Don't mess with a satirist with a pen at the ready...

The Onion's Twitter feed was apparently hacked by Syrian Electronic Army, the group that recently hacked the White House Twitter account and sent the stock market on a short-lived dive. The Onion has responded to the hack, darkly.
posted by zardoz on May 6, 2013 - 62 comments

Crossing the "Red Line"?

Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 2, 2013 - 289 comments

"Bin Laden cowered & hid. Mughniyeh spent his life giving us the finger"

It's been five years since the death of Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. No one ever claimed responsibility for killing him. Hezbollah publicly blames Israel's Mossad, a charge they unsurprisingly deny. So, who killed The Driver? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 30, 2013 - 18 comments

Frontline: The Bombing of al-Bara

Frontline journalist Olly Lambert captures the event of a Syrian government air strike on the town of al-Bara. Powerfully upsetting and tragic, his footage conveys the sheer terror afflicting the lives of Syrian refugees struggling to survive under the Assad regime. [36min SLYT] [more inside]
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee on Apr 12, 2013 - 38 comments

Will oil companies provide Kurdistan its de facto statehood?

Iraq, Kurds, Turks and oil - A tortuous triangle The governments of Turkey, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan play a dangerous game [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 2, 2013 - 9 comments

The War Tourist

Toshifumi Fujimoto is a Japanese tourist. On the Syrian front line (his Facebook page).
posted by elgilito on Jan 3, 2013 - 18 comments

A Requiem for Syria

The Land of Topless Minarets and Headless Little Girls: A Requiem for Syria. [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Dec 13, 2012 - 20 comments

Syrian music of protest and war

Syrian music of revolution and war. The first song is by Ibrahim Qashoush, a fireman and amateur poet from Hama, he was called the "nightingale of the revolution".
posted by stbalbach on Dec 10, 2012 - 6 comments

The Last Resort?

According to multiple sources, as of a few hours ago, Syria has been disconnected from the internet as rebels converge on the capital in an attempt to shut down the airport. [more inside]
posted by empath on Nov 29, 2012 - 53 comments

MANPADS proliferation

Surface-to-air missile proliferation in Syria has become something to watch. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Nov 29, 2012 - 44 comments

The Manbij Experiment

"What is currently happening in Manbij, once a sleepy provincial city in northern Syria, is the first future-oriented experiment in the midst of horror. " In the Syrian city of Manbij, the first larger city to be liberated by rebel forces, residents have been left with the task of governing amidst Syrian forces' daily attempts to destroy schools, hospitals, access to clean water and other infrastructure using air strikes.
posted by lookoutbelow on Oct 4, 2012 - 13 comments

Among the Alawites: Nir Rosen reports from Syria

Among the Alawites: Nir Rosen reports from Syria
posted by Cloud King on Sep 24, 2012 - 5 comments

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