Tag Archives: Iraq

4 different looks at Islamic State

More than a year after Islamic State took over Mosul it is easy to get used to the fact that one of the most violent, extreme and expansionist theocracies in modern history rules over 10 million people. Today I’ve collected four different articles from this week that in some way relate to the rise of IS and its horrifying treatment of its ‘citizens’. Continue reading


Islamic State strikes back

After a few months in which it seemed that the Islamic State was on the back foot, one week has shaken things up all over again. IS scored two of its biggest victories since taking over Mosul last year, seizing first the Iraqi city of Ramadi, then the Syrian city of Palmyra, and finally the last border crossing between Iraq and Syria they still didn’t control. So why are these cities so important? What will the effect be on Iraq and Syria? And what does this mean for the US’s strategy? Continue reading

Republican dreams, harsh realities

I’ve got my midterm exam for Middle Eastern Politics tomorrow, so I figured I might as well combine study and writing! 

Strong words, little sense (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Recently 47 US Senators sent a letter to Iran ‘informing’ them that any deal with the US on their nuclear program would be worthless, because the Senate would refuse to cooperate, and a Republican President could scrap the deal in 2016. The letter caused outrage in the US, and it was seen as deliberately undermining Obama’s foreign policy. Iran itself responded by simply poking holes in the Senators’ logic and knowledge of law.

While the letter itself is ridiculous, it does show the way US Republicans are thinking. One of these Republicans is Marco Rubio – one of the expected front-runners for the presidential elections in 2016. Rubio took to Foreign Policy yesterday to defend his ideas on Iran. Let’s take a look at what a possible future president thinks. Continue reading

Airstrikes on Syria – Déjà vu of Déjà vu

Only a year after considering bombing Assad, the US is now launching airstrikes within Syria on his enemies – Islamic State. Dozens of jihadists have allegedly been killed by the strikes, carried out by the US together with the Gulf States and Jordan. As pundits and experts explore every possible angle and effect of the latest strikes, it’s worth taking a look back at some of the previous US interventions in the Middle East – and whether they lived up to their ambitious aims. Continue reading

The letter ن – Recognising Middle Eastern minorities

This week for my Middle Eastern Culture course I had to write a blog post on a ‘cultural object’ in the Middle East – this is that same blog post. It’s different from what I write most weeks, but still fits the blog quite well I think.

Many of us will recently have wondered why certain people have been changing their Facebook profile photos to the Arabic letter ‘N’ (or a strange half-moon if you don’t read Arabic). The change is a sign of solidarity with Iraqi Christians who Islamic State have forced to flee their home of Mosul. IS painted the letter on the houses of Christians (Nasrani in Arabic) to mark them out from their neighbours. The events in Mosul, and the use of this letter, show the two sided nature of the struggle for recognition faced by Middle Eastern minorities – from the outside world and in the Middle East itself. Continue reading

Islamic State – How to destroy them?

On Saturday night Islamic State released a video of their third beheading in less than a month. This time the victim was British aid worker David Haines. Haines was kidnapped last year in Syria where he was delivering humanitarian aid. He had previously worked for charities from Croatia to South Sudan, and leaves behind a Croatian wife and a four year old son. This latest horrific murder will only steel the resolve of the West and their Middle Eastern allies to destroy the organisation. So who is working against IS? How can they hit hardest? And what will work in the long term? Continue reading

Islamic State – Strict beliefs and ambitious goals

Following the beheading video of James Foley, my last post focused on the brutality of the Islamic State and their intolerant ideology. However, in the rush of disgust caused by the video, it is easy to forget to look at why these people do such things. Islamic State didn’t arise in a vacuum, and within the last year they have created what is in many ways a functioning state. So what is it actually like to be one of the millions governed by the Islamic State? How does history and Islam explain their rise? And can they hold on to the territory they cover?

Territory controlled by IS in red.

Continue reading