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The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection

A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 Patrick Cockburn Archive
As Donald Trump prepares for his inauguration, he is struggling with opposition from the US media, intelligence agencies, government apparatus, parts of the Republican Party and a significant portion of the American population. Impressive obstacles appear to prevent him exercising arbitrary power. He should take heart: much the same was said in Turkey of Recep... Read More
I read the text of the dossier on Donald Trump’s alleged dirty dealings with a scepticism that soon turned into complete disbelief. The memo has all the hallmarks of such fabrications, which is too much detail – and that detail largely uncheckable – and too many names of important people placed there to impress the... Read More
As recently as two years ago, Saudi Arabia’s half century-long effort to establish itself as the main power among Arab and Islamic states looked as if it was succeeding. A US State Department paper sent by former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in 2014 and published by Wikileaks spoke of the Saudis and Qataris as... Read More
The killing by an Islamic State (Isis) gunman of 39 civilians in a nightclub in Istanbul is the latest massacre in Turkey, where such slaughter is now happening every few weeks. The perpetrators may differ but the cumulative effect of these atrocities is to persuade Turks that they live in an increasingly frightening and unstable... Read More
Winners and losers are beginning to emerge in the wars that have engulfed the wider Middle East since the US and UK invaded Iraq in 2003. The most striking signs of this are the sieges of east Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, which have much in common though they were given vastly different... Read More
The new ceasefire in Syria will not mean an end to the shooting, but it marks a crucial development in the five-and-a-half year long civil war. It will not stop the killing because the biggest armed opposition groups — Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra — are not covered by the agreement, and have a strong motive... Read More
European political leaders are making the same mistake in reacting to the massacre at the Christmas fair in Berlin, in which 12 died, as they did during previous terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. There is an over-concentration on the failings of the security services in not identifying and neutralising the Tunisian petty criminal, Anis... Read More
The assassination of the Russian ambassador to Ankara by a 22-year-old riot policeman underlines the degree to which Turkey is being destabilised by the hatred and violence spreading from the wars in Syria. Spectacular killings and bombings are happening every few days in which the identity, affiliations or motives of the perpetrators are often in... Read More
It has just become more dangerous to be a foreign correspondent reporting on the civil war in Syria. This is because the jihadis holding power in east Aleppo were able to exclude Western journalists, who would be abducted and very likely killed if they went there, and replace them as news sources with highly partisan... Read More
Ceasefires in Syria are difficult to arrange and particularly likely to collapse because their successful implementation involves so many parties inside and outside the country who hate and would like to kill each other. All of these powers have their own agendas that may have little to do with the wellbeing of those who want... Read More
The defeat of the insurgents in east Aleppo came faster than was expected, though there are still some districts under their control. They were reported to number between 8,000 and 10,000 fighters in the enclave two weeks ago, of whom some 4,000 were experienced combatants belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra (formerly the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria)... Read More
The Syrian armed forces are close to capturing the remaining rebel-held districts in the enclave of east Aleppo, bringing them their biggest victory in five years of war. The insurgent armed forces, that were originally estimated to number between 8,000 and 10,000 fighters, have been retreating or giving up more readily than had been expected.... Read More
The bombings that killed 38 people and injured 155 after a football match in Istanbul is the latest episode to underline Turkey’s violent instability. Government officials blame the attack on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with which the Turkish state has been fighting a guerrilla war since 1984. But only a week ago the spokesman... Read More
The British Government’s fawning on the absolute monarchs of the Gulf, whose authority is enforced by beheadings, lashings and the torture chamber, is at once contemptible and pathetic. It is a measure of Britain’s decline as a great power that it is only in tiny, toxic, sectarian Bahrain, where Sunni rulers suppress the Shia majority,... Read More
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The Iraqi army, backed by US-led airstrikes, is trying to capture east Mosul at the same time as the Syrian army and its Shia paramilitary allies are fighting their way into east Aleppo. An estimated 300 civilians have been killed in Aleppo by government artillery and bombing in the last fortnight, and in Mosul there... Read More
The decibel level of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s denunciations are invariably so high that it is impossible to know how seriously to take them. He has threatened to let loose a wave of three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees who would then try to make their way from Turkey to Europe at a time when... Read More
Where does Donald Trump stand on the use of torture by US security agencies? During the presidential election campaign he notoriously recommended a return to waterboarding, the repeated near-drowning of detainees that was banned by President Obama in 2009. But last week The New York Times reported that in an interview with its senior staff,... Read More
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Isis is under pressure in Mosul and Raqqa, but it is jubilant at the election of Donald Trump. Abu Omar Khorasani, an Isis leader in Afghanistan, is quoted as saying that “our leaders were closely following the US election, but it was unexpected that the Americans would dig their own graves.” He added that what... Read More
Tal Afar is a small city notorious for sectarian hatred and slaughter, which may soon be engulfed by a final battle between Isis and its bitterest enemies. Shia paramilitaries seeking revenge for past massacres of their co-religionists may soon assault the place which has provided many of the most feared Isis commanders, judges and religious... Read More
The Iraqi armed forces are becoming bogged down in the battle for Mosul. Its elite special forces and an armoured division are fighting to hold districts in the eastern outskirts of the city against counter-attacks by Isis fighters using networks of tunnels to move about unseen. “In one day we lost 37 dead and 70... Read More
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‘Make America Great Again’ was the slogan of Donald Trump’s election, but the immediate impact of his victory is to make the US less of a power in the world for two reasons: American prestige and influence will be damaged by a general belief internationally that the US has just elected a dangerous buffoon as... Read More
Even before Donald Trump's election victory it was becoming clear that we are living in an age of disintegration. Nation states are returning to relationships based on rivalry and friction when the trend was meant to be in the opposite direction. The internal unity of country after country is under stress or has already broken... Read More
In the half-burned church of St Mary al-Tahira in Qaraqosh, several dozen Syriac Catholics are holding a mass in Aramaic amid the wreckage left by Isis. The upper part of the stone columns and the nave are scorched black by fire and the only artificial light comes from three or four candles flickering on an... Read More
A Syrian Kurdish and Arab force backed by US air strikes has launched an offensive against the Islamic State’s de facto Syrian capital at Raqqa aimed at maximising pressure on Isis when it is already under attack in Mosul in Iraq. Anti-Isis forces advanced six miles in the first four hours of the attack, capturing... Read More
As the Iraqi army advanced further into east Mosul today, Isis fighters responded by firing mortar shells into the Gogjali district that had been freed earlier in the week. We met the families fleeing the mortar barrage crammed into their battered cars and pick-ups at an army checkpoint at Bartella a dozen miles down the... Read More
Foreign fighters for Isis are choosing to stand and fight the Iraqi army in east Mosul, while the group’s local militants are crossing the Tigris river with their families to the more defensible western side of the city, a former jihadi has told The Independent. In an exclusive interview, the fighter, who calls himself Faraj,... Read More
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Iraq and Turkey are threatening to go to war with each other over who should hold power in Mosul and the surrounding region after the defeat of Isis. Turkish tanks and artillery have deployed along the border and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that while Iraq “did not want war with Turkey” it... Read More
The Iraqi Army has entered Mosul for the first time in over two years at the start of a battle which is likely to end in a decisive defeat for Isis. The significance of the fight for Mosul will be all the greater for Isis because its self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to... Read More
I visited Mosul on the day it fell to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and a small detachment of US Special Forces on 11 April 2003. As we drove into the city, we passed lines of pick-up trucks piled high with loot returning to the Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Iraq. US soldiers at a checkpoint, over which... Read More
I was in Iran in early 2011 when there were reports from opposition sources in exile saying that protests were sweeping the country. There was some substance in this. There had been a demonstration of 30,000 protesters in north Tehran on 14 February – recalling the mass protests against the allegedly fixed presidential election of... Read More
Mosul has been a dangerous place since the US-led invasion of 2003. It is the greatest Sunni Arab city of Iraq during an era in which the Sunni had lost their old predominance and have struggled against Shia-dominated governments in Baghdad and Kurdish rulers next door in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is a battle that is... Read More
The Iraqi government and its allies may eventually captureMosul from Isis, but this could be just a new chapter in the war. It will only win because of the devastating firepower of the US-led air forces and sheer weight of numbers. But the fight for the city is militarily and politically complex. The Iraqi army,... Read More
It is fortunate for Saudi Arabia and Qatar that the furore over thesexual antics of Donald Trump is preventing much attention being given to the latest batch of leaked emails to and from Hillary Clinton. Most fascinating of these is what reads like a US State Department memo, dated 17 August 2014, on the appropriate... Read More
The proposal put forward in Parliament to shoot down Russian and Syrian aircraft over Eastern Aleppo in a bid to end the bombardment of this part of the city is wholly unrealistic. The West is not going to risk a war against a nuclear power and its Syrian ally in order to help the 250,000... Read More
The US and EU economic sanctions on Syria are causing huge suffering among ordinary Syrians and preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid, according to a leaked UN internal report. The embargo was supposed to target President Bashar al-Assad and contribute to his removal from power. Instead it is making it more difficult for foodstuffs, fuel... Read More
Why does the British Government devote so much time and effort to cultivating the rulers of Bahrain, a tiny state notorious for imprisoning and torturing its critics? It is doing so when a Bahraini court is about to sentence the country’s leading human rights advocate, Nabeel Rajab, who has been held in isolation in a... Read More
Hundreds of foreign hospital workers in Saudi Arabia, unpaid for seven months, were on strike this week and were blocking a highway in Eastern Province in defiance of the ban on strikes and demonstrations in the Kingdom. The employees’ anger was deepened by the belief that the very same employer who has been holding back... Read More
Airstrikes that hit the wrong target have always been justified or denied by the perpetrators with a rich blend of hypocrisy and lies. It was interesting to see this tradition of deliberate mendacity being not only maintained, but outdone in Syria over the last week. The US was seeking to explain how it had come... Read More
The Government is failing to implement its policy of making war on Isis in Syria which it was supposed to have launched nine months ago after rancorous debate. A report by the House of Commons Defence Committee published on Wednesday says that there have been only 65 UK air raids in Syria during this period,... Read More
The British participation in the misdirected US-led air raid that killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers and the final breakdown of the shaky six-day truce combine to underline the need to bring the war to an end and to emphasise how difficult it will be to accomplish this in the near future. The British and... Read More
At about 5pm on Saturday, two US F-16 fighter bombers and two A-10 specialised ground attack aircraft bombed what they believed was a concentration of Isis fighters besieging pro-government forces in the city of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria. Whoever it was in the US Air Force who had misidentified the target as Isis made... Read More
Suicide bombers are central to a new style of warfare that has emerged during the Iraq, Afghan and Syrian wars and is shaping political and military developments across the world. The tactic is effective because it turns thousands of untrained religious fanatics – most of whom come from the Salafi-jihadi variant of Islam – into... Read More
The ceasefire in Syria is holding with no one reported killed in fighting anywhere in Syria during the first 15 hours of the truce. Most groups have said they will abide by its terms, though in many cases they are doing so reluctantly. Several armed opposition movements say they have been unfairly treated and see... Read More
A ceasefire began at sunset aimed at ending the five-year long civil war in Syria that has killed over a quarter of a million Syrians and forced five million more to flee the country. Under an agreement between the US and Russia, the initial truce will last seven days, during which time UN convoys will... Read More
Is the agreement important? It is very significant inside and outside Syria because it is between the US and Russia, the most powerful players in the Syrian conflict, who can put pressure on their allies and proxies to comply. It is important too because it is the sign of a change in the international political... Read More
Russia could be poised to beome a super power again after agreeing with the US to launch what amounts to a joint air campaign against the two main extreme Islamist groups in Syria. If the ceasefire that starts at sunset on Monday holds for seven consecutive days and the UN is able to deliver aid... Read More
The proposed ceasefire in Syria is the outcome of a new balance of power in that country that has developed over the last two years. During this period, the US and Russia became militarily involved in the civil war in Syria and Iraq, providing devastating fire power to their chosen allies on the ground. As... Read More
The ceasefire agreement in Syria between the US and Russia is the most important development in Syria since the Russian military intervention on 30 September last year. It is so significant because it is an accord reached after 10 months of negotiations between the heaviest and most influential hitters in the conflict. They should be... Read More
Isis will flourish and survive even if it is defeated in the present battle for Syria and Iraq an Isis militant has told The Independent. In an exclusive interview, Faraj, a 30-year-old veteran fighter from north east Syria, says that “when we say that the Islamic State [Isis] is everlasting and expanding, it is not... Read More
High on the upper slopes of Mount Qasioun, which towers over Damascus, is the Magharat al-Dam or “Cave of Blood” where Cain is believed to have killed Abel. The impression of a large hand on a rock inside the cave was supposedly made by Abel as his brother murdered him. It feels appropriate that the... Read More
Patrick Cockburn
About Patrick Cockburn

Patrick Cockburn is the Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent. He was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book on his years covering the war in Iraq, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.


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