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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
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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
In the National Museum of Damascus are antique books of black magic or witchcraft listing curses and spells designed to dumbfound or destroy whatever enemy is targeted by the user. Alongside these tattered works lie a bible made out of copper, religious works from the Crusader period and, elsewhere in the museum, a striking stone... Read More
The Syrian Kurdish leadership vows to defend their de facto state in north east Syria to the end, but is fearful of a growing understanding between the Syrian and Turkish governments in opposition to Kurdish separatism at a time when US support for the Kurds is faltering. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, a... Read More
The apparent killing of Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, leading propagandist and senior operational leader of Isis in an airstrike, is the latest serious blow to the Jihadi movement. Once Isis boasted of its swift victories against superior forces in Iraq and Syria in 2014 as a sign of divine assistance, but since the summer of 2015... Read More
Turkey is back in the game in Syria. Turkish tanks and special forces last week joined anti-Assad rebels to capture the border town of Jarabulus from Isis. It was the first significant Turkish ground operation in Syria since the beginning of the war in 2011. The immediate target was Isis, but a more important Turkish... Read More
The record of Turkish involvement in the war in Syria over the last five years has been one of repeated disaster. It wanted to get rid of President Bashar al-Assad and his government and it is still there and in control of at least two thirds of the Syrian population. Instead, the Syrian wing of... Read More
Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, his face bloody and bruised from bomb blast, stares out in bafflement at a world in which somebody had just tried to kill him. Pictures of his little figure in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo have swiftly become the living symbol of the slaughter in Syria and Iraq. In the... Read More
The Syrian army and its militia allies from the Shia world are preparing a counter-offensive to cut the recently-opened corridor connecting East Aleppo to rebel territory. Syrian and Russian aircraft pound the ruins of this corner of Aleppo through which also runs the main supply road to the government-held west side of the city. The... Read More
Coup attempt and purge are tearing Turkey apart. The Turkish armed forces, for long the backbone of the state, are in a state of turmoil. Some 40 per cent of its generals and admirals have been detained or dismissed, including senior army commanders. They are suspected of launching the abortive military takeover on 15-16 July,... Read More
Isis has carried out two bombings in the predominantly Kurdish city of Qamishli in the Syrian Kurdish enclave in north east Syria, killing 44 people and injuring over 100. The explosions tore apart a security headquarters along with government ministries in what may have been Isis retaliation for a Kurdish-backed offensive that threatens to seal... Read More
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started to use his powers under the newly-declared state of emergency today to close 15 universities and over one thousand schools alleged to have links to the Gulen movement, which is accused of having staged the failed military coup on 15 July. The extent of the closures underlines the sizable nature... Read More
Turkey is reacting angrily to what it considers to be tepid support from the EU and US in the aftermath of a failed coup that left hundreds dead and could have plunged the country into a civil war had the plotters achieved a little more success. Foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday that the... Read More
The failed military coup is a disaster for Turkey, but its success would have been a far greater calamity. If the plotters had killed or captured President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then other parts of the armed forces might have joined them, but a civil war would have been inevitable as the security forces split and... Read More
“I went to Taksim Square where there was a rally against thecoup,” says Gokse, a 30-year-old woman journalist and photographer. “I was so scared because all the women there looked at me as if I was a demon. The men said that ‘if you go on dressing like that you deserve to die’. Most people... Read More
Turkish leaders are fearful that there may be a second attempt at a military uprising in Turkey following the failure of the recent coup. Several important military units are confined to their bases and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been slow to return to Ankara from Istanbul, apparently because the capital has not been deemed... 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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