Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in the north-east of the country and has a somewhat fractured relationship with the government in Baghdad. Relations between the two authorities is much better than under Saddam Hussein, although this is a very low bar, but there remains a perception in Erbil that the Iraqi central government is both corrupt and incompetent. It is this perception that last week resulted in leading politicians announcing that the region would hold a referendum on independence from Iraq. This development is something that I have long argued for and could be a game-changer for the Middle East.
One of the most inspirational movements of political history was the movement for female suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was a struggle by a disenfranchised group that sought to radically transform how the existing political order functioned, and succeeded despite the fact that none of their group were in the corridors of power. Men and women came together to rectify an injustice that in modern discourse could only be conceived of as a thought experiment rather than as a serious policy proposal. Thankfully in democratic countries this arbitrary distinction has been removed, but the campaign for women’s suffrage can, in my view, easily compared to the struggle for Kurdish liberation. On the surface this may seem like a bit of stretch but hopefully this article will convince you of my case.
A new year gives us the opportunity to soberly re-evaluate the ongoing crises of our world and one of the most pronounced areas of instability is the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. People like myself who argue against Western intervention in order to undermine ISIS’ narrative of Christian crusaders need to provide a coherent alternative. I think this is possible. At this point in time a lasting political solution to the Syrian crisis look unlikely but those of us who advocate a diplomatic end to the war need to think laterally. Continue reading →
The Middle East is one complicated place. Pretty much any statement about the geopolitical situation of the region has to have an asterisk by it to account for exceptions and anomalies. Take the example of ISIS. The West is fighting ISIS along with Russia, Iran, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban just to name a few. This puts the West in a difficult position. For example it is very difficult for the US to criticise the Russians for supporting Bashir al-Assad when all three are fighting against the same enemy. Continue reading →
Yesterday I wrote a piece analysing the terrorist attack that took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and in that article I made the following prediction: “ISIS have previously made statements encouraging its supporters to commit violent acts during the holy month of Ramadan and with Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan, approaching militants will probably seek to do as much damage as possible in the coming days”. Sadly I was correct. In the past 24 hours, two bombs have exploded in the centre of Baghdad which have killed between 85 and 125 people depending on reports, and wounded an additional 150 people. The timing of the attacks is not exclusively related to the end of Ramadan, however the location of the attack illustrates something increasingly common.
To repeat so many who have come before: there is trouble in the Middle East. Unlike crises that become standard fare for those of us caught up with current affairs, like problems in Afghanistan and the Israel-Palestine conflict, this latest dispute has wide-reaching political and economic consequences for the world. By executing 47 people under such dubious circumstances Saudi Arabia, who in the eyes of the West could previously do no wrong, have gone too far.
Headlines about Britain’s involvement against ISIS have been splashed across newspapers as it emerged that British forces have been active in Syria, with this involvement shown to exist by the Ministry of Defence who yesterday confirmed that Ruhul Amin and Reyaad Khan had both been killed by British air-strikes in Syria. Although there remains an ethical debate around whether this is a role for drones in modern warfare, I believe that the issue around British involvement in Syria is fairly clear-cut: Britain has broken international law.