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Lack of rain and poor management of land and water caused the most severe drought in Syria in 100 years and led to a mass migration to cities that contributed to country’s civil war. Khaled Al Hariri/Reuters

Climate change and drought: a spark in igniting Syria’s civil war

A drought in Syria that was exacerbated by climate change helped fuel the unrest that led to the country's civil war.
The continued focus on aerial bombardment of Islamic State’s military and economic assets risks alienating Iraq’s Sunni population. EPA

Military-based strategy in Iraq risks entrenching divisions

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced a further deployment of Australian troops to Iraq to train Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State.
John Cantlie has been producing video content and aricles under duress. Futurenet1977 - Photograph taken by a friend Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

John Cantlie: a final message from a hostage to misfortune?

On February 9, Islamic State propagandists uploaded the latest video to feature captured British journalist John Cantlie. In the film, From inside Halab (Aleppo), an expectedly unkempt and slightly dishevelled…
The US’s refusal to track civilian casualties in the conflict against Islamic State represents a radical departure from established military protocol. EPA/Sedat Suna

The politics of (not) counting: why war on terror’s civilian toll matters

Lieutenant-General James L. Terry, commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria, recently admitted he had no idea how many civilians have died as a result of coalition airstrikes in the region. In a briefing…
The US plans to arm and train ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria in addition to air strikes to defeat Islamic State forces. EPA/US Air Force

US plan to train ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels raises troubling questions

The United States' reluctance to become decisively committed to the complex quagmire in Syria is understandable. However, its plan to insert a US-trained-and-equipped “moderate rebel” force into the mix…
Members of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG) declare victory in Kobane. EPA/Stringer

Kurds turn the tide against Islamic State in Kobanê

On the evening of January 27, Kurds celebrated the liberation of Kobanê from the Islamic State (IS) siege. The celebrations started after the Kurdish fighters of the People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s…
A harbinger of things to come? VP Joe BIden up close and personal with Brazil’s President Rousseff Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Around the world in 2015: the big stories predicted

The New Year always provides an opportunity for both introspection and speculation. So it seems a good time to consider what the big stories are likely to be this year. Some of the five major stories I…
Are these members of the Nusra Front fighting in Syria still loyal to Al-Qaeda? Hosam Katan/Reuters

Was Al-Qaeda a winner or loser from the Arab uprisings?

At first glance it appears that the Arab uprisings have strengthened Al-Qaeda and similar groups that fly the black banner. With the possible exception of Tunisia, the rest of the “Arab Spring” countries…

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