The news that Isis is possibly about to over-run Palmyra in Syria hit me especially hard. It feels strange to be so affected by the plight of a ruined town so far away, especially when you equate it to the hundreds of thousands of human victims of this murderous conflict but as Stalin so sensitively put it- "one death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic." Palmyra, on the other hand is a symbol- a symbol of a tolerant, multi-cultural Syria.
War is not just another policy option. It means death and destruction. It wrecks societies. It creates harms which cannot be undone. It is the most serious action that government can take. It should be a last resort, reserved for the most important interests and most moral causes. None of these is at stake in the case of Iran. Americans demanding that Washington attack Iran demonstrate that Lord Acton's axiom, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely," applies even to the United States. The mere fact that America is able to war against every nation on the planet does not justify it doing so. Washington should officially take the military option off of the table when dealing with Iran.
Facebook has become the world's publishing Leviathan with 1.4 billion users - a cyberpopulation the size of China. Never before have so many of like mind and sympathetic bent been able to connect with each other. Yet, by slotting what is shared through algorithm and personalization into silos of the similar, few boundaries beyond the familiar are being crossed. As identities fortify into tribes through this increasingly dominant medium, one wonders if the information age is becoming the age of non-communication. On this point, "technosociologist" Zeynep Tufekci contests a study recently released by Facebook that claims it is not creating echo chambers. Timothy Karr also worries that Mark Zuckerberg's plan to provide cyber access to the world's poor through Internet.org will "represent the entirety of the Internet for a significant proportion of the world's population."
It's almost a year since a US-led coalition launched air strikes and increased support of Iraqi and Kurdish military forces in a bid to degrade and destroy the self-styled Islamic State; yet the jihadist group that has conquered a swath of Syria and Iraq has demonstrated resilience despite suffering significant losses.
Why are young people leaving Europe to fight for ISIS? They are looking for somewhere to belong.
In the constantly shifting tide of violence and extremism that afflicts states throughout the region, what we choose to call these militant Islamists matters, and provides a clear insight in expressing one's position.
Either way, it underscores the fact that Islamic State does not fit into any neat pigeon holes. It may be a proto-nation or even the core of a new proto-empire. It is certainly more than just a militant jihadist movement. It is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon which is still not entirely understood and whose impact on the world is still evolving.
Is a new Cold War brewing in the Pacific between China and the U.S. with Japan playing a front line role? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Washington last week alarmingly pushed developments in that direction. In a blog he adapted from his well-received speech to the U.S. Congress, Abe proposes that the two democratic post-WWII allies join in a "seamless" strategic effort to "to spread and nurture our shared values" and "stick to the path" that "won the Cold War" -- and, in so many words not spoken, to contain China. By excluding China, the world's second largest economy, from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership on trade while embracing the revision of Japan's pacifist constitution to allow military action beyond self-defense without an apology for colonialism and aggression acceptable to its Asian neighbors, the U.S. and Japan are laying the cornerstone of a new bloc system in the Pacific. As Minxin Pei writes, China's leaders will certainly see it that way and respond in kind. (continued)
Some 12.2 million people, more than half of the population, are estimated to need humanitarian assistance. A similar number have been displaced -- between 6.5 million and 7.8 million -- within Syria, and three to four million have been displaced on to neighboring states.
Khaled sits down in what appears to be an awkward position, his back against the wall. Half sitting, half lying. It is how he sat in his cell in Damaskus. During a total of 12 months, locked up in a cell too small to lie down in, and not high enough to stand up, Khaled was tortured by the Syrian Security forces...
To my mind, religion-tinged conflicts are perhaps the single greatest threat to world peace. Those conflicts have created more than 50 million refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide.
While leading storytelling workshops with Syrian refugee youth, I found myself unavoidably drawn into a spirited exchange in which some perceptions of religion and culture both encouraged and discouraged the pursuit of self-expression, creativity and communication.
Tucked in the back of an alley lined with various shops, restaurants and stores, Aleppo's Kitchen brings to life the culture and food of one of the Arab world's ancient cities: Aleppo, Syria's oldest and largest.
In a new video posted online, Nusra Front militants announced the formation of a 'Jaish al-Fateh' branch in the Qalamoun region. Jaish al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) is the same rebel alliance which has scored numerous victories in recent weeks against the Assad regime in northern Syria's Idlib Province.
The revolt turned civil war has held all Syrians by the throat since 2011. Entire cities have been pounded to dust. The social fabric of the ancient land has collapsed, and so has the economy, along with the people's moral.
In a desperate bid to show himself as an influential player on the world stage, he recently claimed that his opposition to the US-led airstrikes against the Syrian regime, in response to Assad's use of chemical weapons, as a major foreign policy success. What Miliband does not know is that nobody takes him seriously and that his foreign policy 'success' will have no impact on the results of the British election.