Erdogan’s mass prisoner release will make way for new inmates – but they could languish...
The numbers game is intriguing. There were 187,000 prisoners in Turkey’s jails back in March.
The numbers game is intriguing. There were 187,000 prisoners in Turkey’s jails back in March.
So the Sultan travels to see the Tsar at the royal seat of St Petersburg. And the Caliph of Damascus will watch from Syria with the conviction that Ba’ath Party policy has once again proved its worth. The policy? Wait. And wait. And wait.
As armed rebels – “terrorists” in the eyes of the regime – tighten their grip on the country, at one stage holding 60 per cent of the land, government troops hit back, seizing control of the main roads and laying siege to major towns.
So, Sir John Chilcot’s report is going to be “four times as long as War and Peace”, is it?
I’m getting a bit tired of reading about the “US-backed alliance of Syrian militias” and their advance against Isis.
For almost five years, UN investigators wanted to find Mustafa Badreddine. And now, at last, they know where he is: buried close to his brother-in-law, Imad Mugnieh, in the Rawdat Shahiyadayn cemetery in the southern suburbs of Beirut.
Just like his adventure in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s young Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman got it all wrong this week.
Edward Said, 13 years dead but intellectually un-buriable, used to say that there was only one “last taboo” in the United States.
The biggest military defeat that Isis has suffered in more than two years. The recapture of Palmyra, the Roman city of the Empress Zenobia. And we are silent. Yes, folks, the bad guys won, didn't they? Otherwise, we would all be celebrating, wouldn't we?
Just before I left Syria last month, a tall and eloquent Franco-Lebanese man walked up to me in a Damascus coffee shop and introduced himself as President Bashar al-Assad’s architect. It was his task, he led me to understand, to design the reconstructed cities of Syria.
Sabra and Shatila were the scene of war crimes. In September of 1982, Israel’s Lebanese Christian allies – watched by Israeli troops who had surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps – massacred up to 1,700 civilians. It was a place of horror and, much later, of memorial.
If anyone wants to understand the shame of Afghanistan - the yearly cull of civilians, the beheadings, the execution by single shots, the kidnapping of women - they have only to read the shocking UN report just published in Kabul.
Has Benjamin Netanyahu gone bananas? I don’t mean this as an aberration, like a politician who loses his marbles during a particular crisis.
The story of Algeria is supposed to be about “reforms”.
If you drive towards the Liffey down O'Connell Street in Dublin – which was Sackville Street then – you'll find a small memento of the 1916‑23 "Irish Revolution", as we are now enjoined to call those brilliant, terrifying, tragic years of Ireland's history.
When Saudi Arabia was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in 2013 – with Dave Cameron’s help – we all regarded it as farce.
The news from Afghanistan is very bad. No one says that, of course. President Ghani has a “national unity government” that “supports a strong partnership with the United States”, according to Barack Obama two months ago.
Not since Hitler ordered General Walther Wenck to send his non-existent 12th Army to rescue him from the Red Army in Berlin has a European leader believed in military fantasies as PR Dave Cameron did last week.
Saudi Arabia, which lent its Sunni-Wahhabi creed to the Isis killers of Paris, will care nothing for François Hollande’s huffing and puffing about war.
It’s not every day you get to bust a Saudi prince. Amphetamines. Twenty-five boxes and six suitcases, all – according to photos and video – stamped with the Saudi Arabia emblem of palm tree and crossed swords, to be shipped out on a private Saudi jet.
Tony Blair’s at it again. He apologises – but not for the war, only for the “intelligence”.
Vladimir Putin hasn’t sent his soldiers to Syria just to show solidarity with Bashar al-Assad. Nor has he flown them into the Russian bases around Tartous to keep Assad in power.
Little Aylan al-Kurdi was part of Dave’s “swarm”. A bit difficult to brush that one off for PR Dave, of course, because Aylan wasn’t black or brown or “blobbed” out by television’s techie-taste dictators, but looked – let’s face it, for this is what it is about – rather like our...
Isis has killed “the guardian of Palmyra”. Tortured for a month and then beheaded for refusing to betray the secret location of the Roman’s city’s priceless artefacts, Khaled al-Asaad’s gruesome death has appalled his fellow archeologists.
PR Dave is my favourite British prime minister – because you can never be sure of his next blunder in the Middle East.
Not for the first time Mullah Mohammad Omar, Emir of the Faithful, friend and protector of Osama bin Laden, creator of the Taliban, destroyer of graven images, has died.
Hitler set a bad example. He was evil. His regime was evil. His Reich was destroyed, the Nazis vanquished, the Fuhrer dying by his own hand in the ashes of the European nightmare. Bad guys lose.
To understand the future, you must examine the past. In the case of Greece, four years ago will do – when malaria broke out in the Peloponnese.
I’ve never been keen on boycotts. The one against Italy for invading Abyssinia didn’t work. Nor did the arms blockade on Spain.
Let me try to get this right. The Saudis are bombing Yemen because they fear the Shia Houthis are working for the Iranians. The Saudis are also bombing Isis in Iraq and the Isis in Syria. So are the United Arab Emirates.
Old Walid Sadik was Abu Dhabi’s first “minister” of housing in 1968 and he remembers Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan – whose son Khalifa now rules the emirate – living in a palace made of mud.
Iran was reborn as a major Middle East nation when it agreed to limit its nuclear ambitions. Despite the “ifs” (if Iran complies with the “key parameters”, if Iran’s Revolutionary Guards don’t try to wreck the agreement, if Israel does not batter Iran’s nuclear facilities in a...
The depth of the sectarian war unleashed in Yemen shows itself in almost every Gulf Arab official statement and in the official press.
It is because of the ferocious reputation of Isis – created by the "Islamic Caliphate" but assiduously cultivated in the West – that we forget that Wednesday’s attack is a mere copy of the far more ruthless assault on foreign tourists launched by Egyptian Islamists during the...
How has the Syrian president Bashar Hafez al-Assad survived these past four years?
David Gosling was for four years principal of Edwardes College in Peshawar, trying to keep the Taliban from his academy in the old British North-West Frontier Province of what is now Pakistan.
Who are the Muslims who support the immolation of a young Jordanian? And, more to the point, who are their masters?
As the Havengore carried Churchill’s body down the Thames, I was not at all enjoying his funeral.
It’s all about the Saudis. No matter how complex the new Yemeni civil war may appear – nor how powerful the Houthi rebels have become in the capital of Sanaa where they now encircle the presidential palace – it’s the Zaidi sect of Shiism which the Houthis represent that...
Very occasionally, the Israelis go for the jugular. Their helicopter attack on “terrorists” near the Syrian city of Quneitra at the weekend certainly drew aside the curtain of Hezbollah-Iranian assistance to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus.
Sir William Hunter was a senior British civil servant and in 1871 published a book which warned of “fanatic swarms” of Sunni Muslims who had “murdered our subjects”, financed by “men of ample fortune”, while a majority of Muslims were being forced to decide...
Isis is destroying the old Sykes-Picot border between Syria and Iraq, but Lebanon – its population diluted by refugees – is reinforcing its old French-created frontier with Syria.
Every month, my London mail package thumps on to my Beirut doorstep with An Cosantóir inside. It’s the magazine of the Irish Defence Forces – surely the glossiest-paged journal of any army, let alone one of the smallest military forces in the world.
It was a massacre of the innocents. Every report must admit this – because it’s true. But it is not the whole truth.
Thank God for Noam Chomsky. Not for his lifetime of eviscerating assaults on our political hypocrisy, but for his linguistics. Long before I knew him, undergraduate Fisk laboured at his university linguistics course, where Chomsky’s work first alerted me to the pernicious...
Up to the end, they wanted to keep it secret. And the vicious psychopaths and sadists that ran the CIA’s torture centres “on our behalf” must be protected, even praised by the Bushies for keeping our civilisation safe.
Well, heaven preserve us: the most useless “peacemaker” on earth has just used an Arabic acronym for the greatest threat to civilisation since the last greatest threat. Yup, ol’ John Kerry called it “Daesh”, which is what the Arabs call it. I
Mohamed Fahmy is an angry man. And so he should be. He says that he and his two colleagues from the Qatari-based al-Jazeera channel – Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed – were imprisoned by the Egyptians to “teach Qatar a lesson” because the emirate supported the banned...
Chatting with my favourite Lebanese banker-journalist before a trip to the Gulf last week, I asked him what he thought I should discuss with the investors and asset managers I was to talk to in Abu Dhabi.
Just 15 miles from the frontline of Isis, which persecutes their faith, the Christians of Qamishli gathered in the Church of the Holy Virgin for the wedding of Malek Aissa and Ilana Hacho.
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