Decoding the Syrian Propaganda War

August 10th, 2012

Last month, video emerged from the Syrian town of Tremseh showing scores of blood-sodden bodies of children and adults, some with cracked skulls and slit throats, all of them purported victims of the Syrian army. As the camera panned across the grisly tableau, an anguished commentator read out the names of the dead and cried, “God [...]

Welcome to Free Syria

July 15th, 2012

Meeting the rebel government of an embattled country
Abu Malek was pacing back and forth in the hospital parking lot, muttering to himself and firing off phone calls. “Don’t say ‘How are you’ to me,” he told one caller, “because I am not fine, I am very, very, very, very bad.” The hospital was in the [...]

From Bad to Worse

December 6th, 2011

You would think that, after ten long and bloody years, there would be little new the Afghan war could offer in terms of brutality. But Tuesday’s twin suicide strikes on Shi’a Muslim processions in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, leaving 58 dead and more than a hundred wounded, marks an unprecedented insurgent assault on civilians. Never before [...]

The Tripoli Uprising

September 1st, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya – One night late last month, in a sweltering apartment deep in the heart of Tripoli, a group of men gathered around the television to watch the evening news. The program was carried on Libya al-Ahrar, a Doha-based news channel beaming into Libya in support of the revolution. At precisely 8:30 p.m., after [...]

When personalities trump institutions: Two assassinations in Afghanistan

July 18th, 2011

As southern Afghanistan was still reeling from the assassination of local heavyweight Ahmed Wali Karzai, gunmen on Sunday struck down Jan Muhammad Khan, one of the most notorious powerbrokers in southern Afghanistan. JMK, as he is known to the Americans, was the governor of Uruzgan province until 2006, when his policies proved so divisive that [...]

Who is Tayeb Agha?

July 1st, 2011

After years of rumors of talks with the Taleban, the US is finally meeting a senior Taleban representative face-to-face. In a series of encounters this spring in Germany and Doha, it has been leaked to the press that US officials have met with Tayyeb Agha, a leading Taleban figure. But the world of the Taleban [...]

Egypt’s Cauldron of Revolt

February 17th, 2011

Mahalla, Egypt–In the sprawling factories of El-Mahalla el-Kubra, a gritty, industrial town a few hours’ drive north of Cairo, lies what many say is the heart of the Egyptian revolution. “This is our Sidi Bouzid,” says Muhammad Marai, a labor activist, referring to the town in Tunisia where a frustrated street vendor set himself on [...]

The People’s Triumph in Egypt

February 12th, 2011

CAIRO—Late Thursday night, one could hear the sound of hundreds of thousands of people hushing each other. In Tahrir, the central square that has become the heart of the Egyptian revolution, they jostled, they craned their necks toward the soundstage, they inched closer to the giant TV screen, to listen to [...]

Fighting for Liberation in Tahrir Square

February 10th, 2011

Walk south along the Nile in Cairo’s febrile downtown, past austere, colonial-vintage government buildings and stately luxury hotels, cross into Tahrir Square, and you’ll pass from one authority to another. Outside, tanks and armored personnel carriers guard Egypt’s besieged and maligned government; inside the square, in the heart of the city, [...]

What Happened to COIN in Afghanistan?

December 21st, 2010

In 2010, population-centric counterinsurgency doctrine — in which as much emphasis is placed on swaying the population as on fighting the enemy — was supposedly the guiding concept for U.S. strategy in southern Afghanistan. The Kandahar offensive, a series of counterinsurgency operations in restive Taliban strongholds, was to be the centerpiece of this approach. NATO’s [...]