Blog archive: Syria

  • 12th February 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Geneva talks on Syria resumed this week with the opposition eager to see the question of political transition figuring prominently on the agenda while the regime seeks to avoid that at all costs. Today, the opposition played rather a smart move by issuing due to go anyway in May,...
  • 12th February 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    “One day, it will be an Alawite who finally kills Assad.” This rather startling prediction – that the Syrian president’s own community will eventually turn against him – comes in a blog post from Aboud Dandachi, an activist now living in Turkey. Dandachi, it should be noted, used to...
  • 9th February 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    For as long as people have been writing books there have been others who sought to destroy them. When it's driven by moralistic or political objections, book-burning often takes a ritualistic form, carried out in public. Regardless of the books in question, setting fire to them strikes many people...
  • 5th February 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Two years ago, in a letter to potential investors Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, wrote: "By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase...
  • 3rd February 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Calling for a negotiated solution has long been a central plank of Russian policy on Syria. So long as peace talks were not in prospect this was an easy position to adopt. It sounded reasonable and portrayed Russia – despite being one of the Assad regime’s key international backers – as a potential...
  • 8th January 2014
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    "How should we judge a country's foreign policy?" Stephen Walt asked in an article earlier this week. "How do we decide whether it is smart, foolish, shrewd, lucky, successful, or disastrous?" Answering these questions is less straightforward than it might seem. Walt, a professor of...
  • 16th December 2013
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    If Syrian government forces did not launch the chemical attacks near Damascus on August 21, we have to assume that rebel fighters did. Short of denying that the attacks took place at all, there is really no other possibility. Although many people continue to dispute that the Assad regime was...
  • 14th December 2013
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Following their investigation of the Sarin attacks that killed hundreds near Damascus on August 21, the UN inspectors have continued to look into other alleged cases of chemical weapons being used in the Syrian conflict. Their latest report, issued this week, confirms that people in Syria have...
  • 11th December 2013
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    My blog post yesterday about re-ignited debate over the chemical attacks in Syria last August has brought a surprising response from some regular critics of the mainstream media. On one side of the chemical weapons debate is Seymour Hersh, the veteran investigative journalist, who suggested in...
  • 10th December 2013
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In the blue corner, Seymour Hersh, one of America's most famous and highly paid investigative reporters. In the red corner, Eliot Higgins, who sits at home in an English provincial town trawling the internet and tweets and blogs about his findings under the screen name Brown Moses. On...
  • 12th October 2013
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The destruction of Syria's chemical weapons got under way this week. In a letter to the Security Council, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon reported: "Under the supervision of OPCW experts, supported by the United Nations, the Syrian Arab Republic began to destroy its...
  • 2nd October 2013
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    There's yet another twist in the story of Yahya Ababneh, the mystery journalist who reported claims that Saudi Arabia supplied chemical weapons to Syrian rebels. After more than a month's silence since the claims were published on an American "advocacy journalism" website, Ababneh has now...

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