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Analysis and Comment (23)

An Australian Super Hornet refuels from a KC30 tanker while flying over Iraq. An Australian Super Hornet refuels from a KC30 tanker while flying over Iraq. @VCDF_Australia/Twitter

Why Western boots should stay out of Iraq and Syria

There are two reasons why we should ignore the growing calls in the United States, Canada and Australia for Western “boots on ground” – meaning ground troops – to fight and destroy the Islamic State (IS…
Over it: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (L) and his foreign minister Javad Zarif. Over it: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (L) and his foreign minister Javad Zarif. EPA/STR

Frozen out of anti-IS effort, Iran is losing patience with the West

Since Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran’s president in June 2013, relations between Iran and the United States have significantly improved – though they remain very fragile. To explain why, most analysts…
An international Red Crescent aid truck sponsored by Syria’s government. An international Red Crescent aid truck sponsored by Syria’s government. Syrian Arab News Agency/EPA

Islamic State only the latest group to fill vacuum left by long Ba'athist retreat in Syria

Black-clad fighters, suffering refugees and Western warplanes overhead – these are the mainstays of Iraq and Syria coverage as the Islamic State (IS) continues its campaign. Notably absent from debates…
Syrians have the option to vote in their own blood to show commitment. Syrians have the option to vote in their own blood to show commitment. EPA/Youssef Badawi

Assad will win Syria’s farcical election and, as the West hesitates, he is winning the war

There are three candidates running in Syria’s presidential election: the incumbent, Bashar al-Assad and two challengers, Maher Hajjar and Hassan al-Nouri. In reality there is only one, Assad. The other…
After destroying towns and cities, Syria’s civil war is spilling into Lebanon. After destroying towns and cities, Syria’s civil war is spilling into Lebanon. Christiaan Triebert

No end in sight as Syria misery spreads across region

The second round of the Geneva II talks on Syria have ended with no agreement and without even a decision on the date of a further meeting. The highly experienced UN mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, was clearly…
Putting the jackboot into Assad. Putting the jackboot into Assad. Freedom House

Hailing Hitler: why Godwin’s law never gets old

Where would we be without Godwin’s Law? This law, formulated for the internet, dictates that as a discussion progresses, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1. And, as…
Who said what? ‘Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs’ and ‘Necessity has no law’. Who said what? ‘Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs’ and ‘Necessity has no law’. Wikimedia Commons

Stalin trumps Cromwell, surely? Putin’s genocidal maniac Christmas game is irresistible

Imagine if there were a premier league for tyrants and totalitarian dictators. Who exactly was the biggest genocidal maniac? Was it Stalin, or Hitler, or Pol Pot, or…? However you add it up, especially…
US president Barack Obama addressed a doubting nation and Congress last night. US president Barack Obama addressed a doubting nation and Congress last night. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Obama’s Syria strategy: the war he doesn’t want

On Tuesday night Washington time, US president Barack Obama made a public plea to Congress to authorise a military action in Syria that he probably doesn’t want. The tell-tale sign Obama doesn’t actually…
Allegations of chemical weapon use by the Assad regime is leading to calls for Western intervention. Allegations of chemical weapon use by the Assad regime is leading to calls for Western intervention. EPA/STR

Obama’s credibility on the line as US weighs up a Syria response

Those who thought US president Barack Obama was chastened by his failure to subdue the Taliban in Afghanistan and his decision to “lead from behind” in Libya expected the White House to be less overtly…
The emerging divisions between the various Syrian rebel groups is threatening to give the government forces the upper hand in the ongoing conflict. The emerging divisions between the various Syrian rebel groups is threatening to give the government forces the upper hand in the ongoing conflict. EPA/STR

Syrian opposition: a crumbling house of cards?

For Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the recent murder of Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Abu Basir by Islamist State of Iraq (ISI) militants must have felt like his birthday had come early. The assassination…
Will the decision by the EU to lift its embargo on arming Syrian rebels be a game-changer for the ongoing conflict? Will the decision by the EU to lift its embargo on arming Syrian rebels be a game-changer for the ongoing conflict? EPA/Maysun

EU lifting arms embargo on Syria won’t win the war for the rebels

The bloodbath in Syria continues apace and the decision by the European Union to provide arms to some rebel groups ensures that fighting will grow only more intense. The hotly contested removal of the…
Are international talks that bring all parties in the Syrian civil war to the table the only solution to the ongoing conflict? Are international talks that bring all parties in the Syrian civil war to the table the only solution to the ongoing conflict? EPA/Malasun

The Syrian civil war: no good outcomes

A great level of cynicism has been pervading the ongoing conflict in Syria. This is seen in the manipulation of the crisis by Syria’s neighbours, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and the superpowers…
The resignation of Syrian opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib (centre) has plunged the war-torn nation into fresh political tumult. The resignation of Syrian opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib (centre) has plunged the war-torn nation into fresh political tumult. EPA/STR

Political turmoil in Syria: the crisis deepens

Political upheaval within the Syrian National Council (SNC) is worsening the chaos that has defined Syria for the past two years. In recent times, we’ve also seen allegations of chemical weapon use and…
The Free Syrian Army may claim democratic ideals, but it is almost exclusively a Sunni Muslim grouping fighting the Shia and Alawite forces of the dictator Bashar Al-Assad. The Free Syrian Army may claim democratic ideals, but it is almost exclusively a Sunni Muslim grouping fighting the Shia and Alawite forces of the dictator Bashar Al-Assad. EPA/Maysun

Syria: from fight for justice to sectarian stalemate

The horror of the Syrian conflict appears to know no bounds. Every day brings news of a new atrocity and it is clear that both the rebels and the Assad government are guilty of human rights abuses on an…
A building Aleppo attacked by Free Syrian Army fighters. A building Aleppo attacked by Free Syrian Army fighters. EPA/Sana

The malignant consensus on Syria

It is a paradox of our digital age that, despite an enormous supply of information, a powerful yet misleading consensus can still shape the course of international relations. Such was the case with the…
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has lost a close ally after a bomb attack killed his Defense Minister Daoud Rajha. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has lost a close ally after a bomb attack killed his Defense Minister Daoud Rajha. EPA/SANA

Death in Damascus: bomb attack rattles an Assad regime in decline

In something reminiscent of the plot to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb, several high-ranking figures of the Assad regime have been killed in an apparent suicide attack. The top level security apparatchiks…
A mass grave is formed in Houla. A mass grave is formed in Houla. EPA

Syria: truth, lies and realpolitik

After a longish lull, the ghastly images emanating from Houla have re-focused world attention on Syria and its rapidly deteriorating internal condition, as Mat Hardy pointed out on The Conversation yesterday…
Many Syrians prefer the stability of the Assad regime to the chaos they saw after dictators were deposed in Libya and Iraq. Many Syrians prefer the stability of the Assad regime to the chaos they saw after dictators were deposed in Libya and Iraq. EPA/Youssef Badawi

The Syria roulette wheel – where nobody wins

The stench of hypocrisy is a hard one to wash out for the West in the Middle East. We shook Gadaffi’s hand and pretended we liked his outfits when he coughed up for Lockerbie and we snuggled with Mubarak…
Syrian President Assad addresses the nation earlier this week. Syrian President Assad addresses the nation earlier this week. AAP

Syria - breaking the pattern

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad made a major speech earlier this week promising major reforms in the way his country is governed in an attempt to end protests rocking the Middle Eastern country. However…
Still from a video showing Syrian anti-government protestors in Hama on June 3 2011. Still from a video showing Syrian anti-government protestors in Hama on June 3 2011. AFP/YouTube

Hama time for Syrian rebels?

As we watch the spot fires of democratic uprisings flicker across Syria it is worth remembering that the government’s response so far has been mild. The religious tensions of the country and disaffection…