The Mystery of ISIS
The problem, however, lies not in chronicling the successes of the movement, but in explaining how something so improbable became possible. The explanations so often given for its rise—the anger of Sunni communities, the logistical support provided by other states and groups, the movement’s social media campaigns, its leadership, its tactics, its governance, its revenue streams, and its ability to attract tens of thousands of foreign fighters—fall far short of a convincing theory of the movement’s success.[more inside]
Death in Syria by Karen Yourish, K.K. Rebecca Lai and Derek Watkins [New York Times]
“With each passing day there are fewer safe places in Syria,” Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chairman of the United Nations panel investigating human rights abuses in Syria, wrote in a recent report. “Everyday decisions — whether to visit a neighbor, to go out to buy bread— have become, potentially, decisions about life and death.”
Britain built an empire on the slave trade. Germany perpetrated the greatest genocide in human history. Who says the Islamic State won’t be a U.S. ally someday?
Why Turkey is bombing the Kurds more than Islamic State - "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bombing campaign — capitalizing on the nationalist, anti-Kurd sentiment that has been steadily growing inside Turkey — could help him regain his AKP party's absolute majority in parliament now that coalition talks have failed and snap elections are likely." [more inside]
Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape route.
The Syrian conflict has torn the country apart, leaving thousands dead and driving millions to flee their homes. Many seek refuge in neighbouring countries but others pay traffickers to take them to Europe - risking death, capture and deportation. If you were fleeing Syria for Europe, what choices would you make for you and your family? Take our journey to understand the real dilemmas the migrants face.
In terms of sheer devastation, Syria today is worse off than Germany at the end of World War II. [more inside]
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]
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)
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
"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.
Life and death in Aleppo. GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton was filming a feature on the daily life of Syrian opposition fighters when a mundane chore for the men turned into a bloodbath... (Warning: Graphic.) [more inside]
Watching Syria's War [Caution: war]. The New York Times is posting video coming out of the Syrian Civil War with context and background: Street Fighting in Allepo (related), Crusader Castle Becomes Rebel Redoubt (AFP report), Tank Stalking, Harrowing ride through the streets of Homs. The online video has "allowed the war to be documented like no other", according to the Times, presumably because of the ubiquity of video cameras among the fighters and access to the Internet.
Obama calls on Assad to step down. The US and EU announce sanctions on Assad's regime. The New York Times looks at the resistence in Homs. Al Jazeera has an ongoing Syrian Live blog. Enduring America continues to cover the Arab Spring.
“There’s culture shock, and then there’s the culture shock of moving to a country that started a war in your home.”
"The war has uprooted 4.7 million people from their homes. So where are they?" With the election of Obama and the economic crisis, the topic of Iraq has fallen by the wayside. As hard as things may be right now, Iraqis have been going through far worse for years now. If you're curious about what they have to say, hear them tell it in their own words. Iraqi Refugee Stories. [more inside]
"US helicopter raid" in Syria. Could this be an October Surprise? Many have hinted this election's October Surprise will be the capture of Osama Bin Ladin or a resurgence of terrorist activity. As we recall, news media had jumped on a McCain Aide who claimed a terrorist attack would benefit McCain in the Election.
Riverbend resurfaces in Syria
Forty years on. After a quick buildup, the Six Day War started 40 years ago today and reshaped the Middle East. At the time, Israel's quick win looked like a triumph, but after 40 years the war is still being fought and it looks like it may have been a pyrrhic victory.
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
In this episode of the George & Tony Show the President and the Prime Minister are in Russia eating brie, discussing geopolitics, leaving their mics open, and whatnot.
US-Made Suicide Bombs - These are by US military, law enforcement agencies or commercial security firms - whether for training or marketing or spooking the public
The Salvador Option --sending Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, in imitation of our actions in El Salvador. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. More here, including this: In Iraq, in fact, as in many other places where the United States has tried to train ethical armies to fight dirty wars, the Iraqi troops are tacitly expected to do what American troops won’t. A fundamental purpose of the upcoming elections on January 30 is to create democratic legitimacy for whatever extreme measures the newly organized military decides to take.
No war in Syria? It appears not, as the US president has blocked the Pentagon from making preparations for an invasion. Is this for real, or is it merely a ploy to sway international opinion?
Middle East war predictions "..what we are witnessing looks like joint preparations by the Palestinian Authority, Syria, its Lebanese client, Iraq, and Iran, for war on a regional scale, against both Israel and U.S. interests. I fear we may face a major, sudden, external assault on Israel, meant to precede U.S. action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and indeed prevent the U.S. from going there by enmiring it in the defence of Israel. [From The Ottowa Citizen, lead link in today's Wall Street Journal Best of the Web]
Bush wants military aid for Syria and Iran So what if both nations on the American terrorist list (previous to recent attack on us). I just returned my army (old) uniform back to the closet. I won't go.