March 24, 2016 |
MOLENBEEK, Belgium - Four days before Tuesday's grisly bomb attacks in Brussels, the police raided a shabby three-story brick row house in this heavily Moroccan working-class district of Brussels. There they captured Salah Abdeslam, the last surviving member of the terror group that killed 130 people in Paris in November.Abdeslam had eluded police for four months and no one in Moleenbeek betrayed him. Nor did anyone warn police about Tuesday's plans to bomb Brussels' airport and metro.
March 19, 2016 |
SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq - The Kurds of Syria announced on Thursday that they are setting up a federal region - a move that could help defeat ISIS in the heart of its caliphate in the Syrian city of Raqqa. Of course, the Assad regime denounced the move. But so did the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition, while a State Department spokesman also expressed disapproval. Having just visited the Syrian Kurdish region (known as Rojava) - and just interviewed one of Rojava's top leaders, Salih Muslim - I think the naysayers are mistaken.
March 7, 2016 |
Suddenly the Kurds are at the center of the universe. Well, not exactly. But the Kurds are now at the center of the struggle against ISIS. This is why I am heading to Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, to look at how and whether ISIS can be rolled back. The Kurds are a Mesopotamian people, now numbering 25 million to 35 million, whose mountainous lands cover parts of four Middle Eastern countries - Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The Kurds were denied their own homeland after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, and their struggles for autonomy or statehood reflect the splintering of many states in the region.
March 5, 2016 |
As the 2016 campaign grows ever more grotesque, consider this: The next U.S. president will still be confronting an ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq when he or she takes office. Hint: "Bomb the s- out of them" (the mantra for you-know-who, as well as his Texas opponent) won't suffice to destroy the jihadis. Even if a serious candidate wins, the new president will still face an unholy ISIS mess. Here are three key things about the struggle for Syria that any presidential wanna-be should keep in mind: One. Contrary to popular wisdom, the future of Syria and the fractured Mideast will be shaped on the battlefield, not at the negotiating table.
February 29, 2016 |
We've entered an era in which strongmen are in vogue and democracy is taking a hit worldwide. So it's really depressing in this dismal election season to watch how oblivious the leading GOP candidate is to the threats posed by authoritarian rulers. It's equally depressing to watch the GOP - in the battle over replacing Justice Antonin Scalia - undermine the institutional protections that shield us from this global trend. In the last, most raucous Republican debate, Donald Trump said the Middle East would be better off "if we had Saddam Hussein and we had [Moammar]
February 12, 2016 |
Vladimir Putin seems to be the only leader who knows what he's doing in Syria. While the Obama team was desperately pursuing a diplomatic solution to the conflict, Putin was busy with more practical matters: cementing his proxy Bashar al-Assad in power by military force. Backed by indiscriminate Russian airpower, Syrian troops and foreign fighters trained by Iran have nearly encircled Syria's second-largest city, Aleppo, a key rebel base. At Thursday's talks in Munich, the United States, Russia and other powers agreed on a vague "cessation of hostilities" - not a formal ceasefire - that supposedly will take place in a week.
February 6, 2016 |
It is becoming accepted wisdom that art must be about more than just art. We now expect art to relate to realms outside itself - as a social truth-teller, lens to social injustice, or tool for "activating" civic spaces. I'm not sure where this leaves art for art's sake, since art can settle scores on behalf of humanity only sometimes. And who could have looked into the hearts of anyone in the room Tuesday night, when clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and visual artist Kevork Mourad teamed up for Home Within ?
January 28, 2016
By David Inserra The Justice Department recently announced that two individuals in separate cases in Texas and California are being charged with supporting terrorism. Both came to the United States through the refugee system (from Iraq and Syria), but it's important to note their differences: One suspect seems to have been radicalized here in the United States, while the other was already radicalized when he was admitted. Both of these cases are troubling, but for two different reasons.
January 25, 2016 |
BEIRUT - At least 29 civilians were killed Saturday in airstrikes targeting areas under the control of Islamic State in eastern Syria, a monitoring group said. Jets believed to be Russian struck Khsham are on the eastern outskirts of Deir al-Zour province, said the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel- Rahman. Those deaths bring to at least 73 the number of civilians killed since Friday in airstrikes in the province, according to the Britain-based observatory.
December 4, 2015 |
Ever since ISIS attacked Paris, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have called for a more intense effort to destroy the caliphate. Yet despite the horrors wreaked in France, I've yet to see any political leader put forward a strategy that shows much promise of achieving that goal. Republicans (and I refer to those with foreign policy expertise, not the bombastic Donald Trump or the bemused Ben Carson) rightly chastise President Obama for a policy that has mostly failed to dent ISIS's hold on physical and digital territory.