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Under the leadership of both Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda has failed to reproduce an event that has shaken the international order since 9/11. EPA

A global war for relevance: can al-Qaeda reclaim the jihadi crown?

Islamic State's rapid successes in Syria and Iraq stand in stark contrast to al-Qaeda's efforts at global jihad over the past decade.
Iranians, who celebrated in the streets of Tehran following this month’s nuclear agreement, are keen to rebuild relations with the West. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

Julie Bishop can reach out to Iran now that confrontation has failed

By reaching out to Iran, Australia can help end a long stand-off with the West that prevented solutions to many of the world's most dangerous problems, including Syria's civil war and Islamic State.
Shaping how the war is perceived through disseminating communiques has become a key feature of the Syrian conflict. EPA/Youssef Badawi

The forgotten front: guerrilla radio and Syria’s information war

While social media was the main forum for Syrian demonstrators to confront Bashar al-Assad’s media machine in 2011, FM radio is now the battleground for Syrian hearts and minds.
Syrian refugees cross the border into Turkey, one of several states that are already vulnerable to ethnic and demographic tensions. EPA

Rising tide of demographic change spells trouble across Middle East

The flows of refugees from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria are yet another driver of demographic changes that are threatening to destabilise other states long regarded as strong and democratic.
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…

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