In response to:
“And the Oscar Goes to… A Simplified Story of Syria’s Civil War,” NYR Daily, February 6, 2020.
To the Editor:
Since December 1, when the Syrian regime and Russia resumed their assault on Idlib, 832,000 civilians have been displaced, most of them children. Two hundred and eighty-six civilians were killed in the month of January alone. The last bastions of the revolution, Saraqeb, Kafranbl, and Ma’arrat al-Nu’man, have fallen. This is the biggest displacement of the war yet—and the majority of those fleeing were already refugees, once, twice, even six times over.
Still convulsed from the so-called refugee crisis of 2015, the West worries about migration, but less so about its causes.… Seguir leyendo »
Syria’s unfinished civil war may be the most amply documented conflict in history. Much of it has been broadcast live, with participants and observers posting breathless, hand-held footage from the first ecstatic protests in 2011 to the many lurid horrors that came afterward. Yet this tsunami of images seems often to obscure rather than clarify a complex war with many sides. The fact that photos and video clips have been so often adopted and brandished by Syrian partisans in defense of their warring narratives, which contend both online and in the streets, has further numbed our senses. “I was there,” all these witnesses seem to shout.… Seguir leyendo »
The missiles that struck last weekend in Saudi Arabia did not just destroy oil tanks. They also dealt the final blow to a doctrine that has been fading for years: the belief that the United States maintains a security umbrella able to protect the oil-rich Persian Gulf states from their enemies — and, especially, from Iran.
President Trump’s miscalculations helped get us here. But the current Gulf crisis is not just about this administration and the pitfalls of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. The United States has been disengaging from the Middle East since the catastrophe of the 2003 Iraq invasion.… Seguir leyendo »
For those who knew him, it is hard to believe that Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s longtime ruler and one of the most cunning autocrats of our time, is finally gone.
Time and time again, Mr. Saleh seemed to outmaneuver death. He dodged a blizzard of bullets over the years, along with a bombing that left his skin mottled, his right hand stiffened like a claw. He’d held power for so long — even after his nominal ouster from the presidency in 2011, he remained a dominant force in Yemen — that he seemed almost welded to the landscape.
Mr. Saleh was in many ways the quintessential Arab dictator.… Seguir leyendo »
In the beginning, long before ISIS or al-Qaeda, before the smiling suicide bombers and black flags and all the other lurid signposts we have come to associate with Islam, there were manuscripts. They emerged from the desert in the seventh and eighth centuries AD: yellowed animal-skin parchments inscribed with Arabic letters that proclaim a faith in one God. Some were written on the shoulder bones of camels, or stripped palm-branches. No one knows who wrote them. They may have come from many hands in disparate places. But at some point, a powerful story emerged to bind them. The angel Gabriel, it was said, recited them to a man named Muhammad in a cave (and later outside of it).… Seguir leyendo »