Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Middle East Category

Je Suis Raif Badawi

  • January 17, 2015
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We’ve heard a great deal over the last two weeks from Western governments about free speech and freedom of expression.   We’ve heard that free speech is a defining value of our civilization that ‘the terrorists’ want to take away from us.     We’ve heard from Francois Hollande that ‘France has principles and values, in particular freedom of expression.’     David Cameron has told us only this week that ‘ we have made clear to those who think they can muzzle freedom of speech and expression with violence that our voices will...

Us and Them

  • January 10, 2015
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Like a B movie thriller that you’ve seen too many times before, the Paris terror-spectacle has reached its predictable conclusion.     All the familiar elements of jihadist noir were present: atrocity and murder followed by manhunts, hold ups, and quasi-military sweeps; neighborhood lockdowns, hostages, sieges, gun fights and explosions, culminating in a glorious act...

2014: Gaza’s Year of Mayhem

  • January 01, 2015
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There are some years when Gramsci’s adage about pessimism of the mind and optimism of the will seems more appropriate than others, and 2014 was a year filled with some pretty awful events, whether it was kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria or a summer in which more migrants drowned in the Mediterranean than ever.   In...

Why can’t the United Nations feed Syria’s refugees?

  • December 04, 2014
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In the oxymoronic world of humanitarian war, refugees occupy a precarious and unenviable position.     Sometimes they will find themselves propelled to the forefront of international concern, and then suddenly they will become a problem and a burden, and they may find themselves forgotten and ignored.

This is what seems to have happened to Syria’s...

Kobane: Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold

  • October 07, 2014
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Despite heroic and desperate resistance from Kurdish Peoples Defence fighters (YPG) in Kobane, it is now looking increasingly likely that this key Syrian border town will fall to ISIS.   It that happens, Islamic State will be able to unite the territories that it already controls in northern Syria, and will undoubtedly inflict a bloody...

Hey look: we’re at war against evil again

  • September 25, 2014
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With ‘reluctant warrior’ Barack Obama’s declaration of war against Islamic State, the United States has found another in a seemingly endless series of justifications for waging war in the Middle East. In 1990/91 it was saving Kuwait.   In 2003 it was weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.   Last year it was the chemical...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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