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 [...]

Excerpts of Interviews with Sirajuddin Haqqani

September 17th, 2011

After the recent Reuters interview with Siraj Haqqani, I shuffled through my archives to see if there is anything new in what he said. Below are a excerpts of a few interviews I did with him in 2010. You’ll see he covers similar ground. The Haqqanis are quite pragmatic and have an established track record [...]

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 [...]

An Appeal for Funding

August 24th, 2011

Kandahar & London
An Appeal for Funding
(This is a joint post by Alex Strick van Linschoten, Felix Kuehn and Anand Gopal)
I wouldn’t normally put something like this up on the blog, but after over a year or so of asking around (without success) we’re trying all options.
For several years now, Felix, Anand and I have been [...]

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 [...]