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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
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
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
Why was the coup mounted? This requires assumptions about who carried out the coup. One theory is that the followers of self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen knew that they were going to be purged and decided to strike first. Was the coup concocted by President Recep Tayyip​ Erdogan to give himself the excuse to crack down?... Read More
As crowds chant calls for the execution of those involved in the failed coup in Turkey, there are fears that this once-secular country is decisively turning the corner towards full scale Islamisation. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the attempted military takeover to justify a purge of state officials and army officers who do not... Read More
The sweeping purge of soldiers and officials in the wake of the failed coup in Turkey is likely to be conducted with extra vigour because a number of close associates of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the 265 dead. The number of people detained so far is at 6,000 including soldiers, and around 3,000... Read More
As political leaders across the world swear to engage in total war against Isis in the wake of the massacre in Nice, not enough notice is being taken of the fact that the long-term prospects of the group will be boosted if Hillary Clinton is elected as the next US President. President Obama and the... Read More
Bahrainis are calling their government’s intensified repression of all opposition “the Egyptian strategy”, believing that it is modelled on the ruthless campaign by the Egyptian security forces to crush even the smallest signs of dissent. In recent weeks leading advocates of human rights in Bahrain have been jailed in conditions directed at breaking them physically... Read More
Denunciations of Tony Blair as the evil architect of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War often dominate discussions of what happened there and many will look to the Chilcot inquiry to provide further evidence of his guilt. But the demonisation of Mr Blair is excessive and simple-minded and diverts attention from what really happened in... Read More
The British involvement in the Iraq War began as an ill-considered demonstration of strength in alliance with the US and ended up six years later as a demonstration of weakness. Much of what is in the Chilcot inquiry was known or suspected before and little is entirely new, but it is important for what happened... Read More
Georg Schmidt / Shutterstock.com
By an accident of history, the Chilcot inquiry on the Iraq War is appearing at a critical moment in British history. The war was the first great test this century of the ability of the British powers-that-be to govern intelligently and successfully and one which they demonstrably failed. The crisis provoked by the vote to... Read More
I started working as a journalist at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland, between 1972 and 1975, and then moved to Lebanon where the 15-year-long civil war was just beginning. I saw both countries as interesting but bloody and atypical, sad casualties of their divisive histories and out of keeping with the modern... Read More
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Neoliberalism, Interventionism, the Resource Curse, and a Fragmenting World
We live in an age of disintegration. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Across the vast swath of territory between Pakistan and Nigeria, there are at least seven ongoing wars -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and South Sudan. These conflicts are extraordinarily destructive. They are... Read More
“In the little moment that remains to us between crisis and catastrophe, we may as well drink a glass of champagne,” said Paul Claudel, the French poet, dramatist and ambassador to the United States in the wake of some calamitous episode in the 1930s. As the British vote to leave the European Union, it feels... Read More
Iraqi security forces are driving out Isis fighters from the government compound in the centre of Fallujah, the city 40 miles west of Baghdad which Isis has held for two-and-a-half years. Heavily armed Interior Ministry police units say they raised the Iraqi flag over the main government buildings on Friday, including the police station and... Read More
In 1996 the CIA set up a special unit called Alec Station with the aim of targeting Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network. It was headed by Michael Scheuer who found the Saudis less than cooperative. “When we set up the unit in 1996 we asked the Saudis for some basic material on bin... Read More
Isis will benefit from the slaughter carried out by Omar Mateen in Orlando regardless of how far it was involved in the massacre. It will do so because Isis has always committed very public atrocities which dominate the news agenda, spread fear and show its strength and defiance. So far there is strong evidence that... Read More
Normally anybody who criticises Jeremy Corbyn is guaranteed knee-jerk support by the British media which apparently feels that it does not even have to pretend to be non-partisan when it comes to the Labour leader. The only political figure similarly subjected to automatic demonisation is Tony Blair, so when he fiercely attacked Corbyn last week... Read More
Iraq is breaking up into competing centres of power and truck drivers are among those who can best describe the miseries of trying to travel from one fragment of the country to another. “Our life is horrible,” says Mohammed Oday, a driver sitting with seven or eight others in the shade of a road bridge... Read More
US-backed forces are threatening to cut the last link Isis has to the outside world by launching an offensive against the town of Manbij west of the Euphrates. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - a Kurdish-led group supported by US airstrikes - has launched the attack on the town close to the Turkish border in... Read More
When Isis first arrived in her village two years ago, Ameena, a 51-year-old Sunni Arab widow with three sons, was happy when they told people to pray. “I thought that they were real Muslims,” she recalls. “But after a few months they started poking their noses into all the details of people’s lives.” Ameena, who... Read More
Isis is under attack in and around the last three big cities it holds in Iraq and Syria – Fallujah, Mosul and Raqqa. It is likely to lose these battles because its lightly armed if fanatical infantry, fighting from fixed positions, cannot withstand air strikes called in by specialised ground forces. They must choose between... Read More
Kurdish forces backed by US-led air strikes advanced easterly on Sunday in an attack designed to prepare the way for an offensive to drive Isis forces from Mosul. Tanks, armoured vehicles and infantry moved forward warily because of the threat from Isis snipers, IEDs and suicide bombers, capturing by mid-afternoon six villages that were abandoned... Read More
“They make a desert and they call it peace,” is the bitter line Tacitus attributed to the British tribal leader Calgacus speaking 2,000 years ago of the devastation inflicted by the Roman army on the rebellious British. The denunciation has echoed down the centuries and been applied to many pacification campaigns, but it is peculiarly... Read More
Iraqi government units and their paramilitary allies are edging closer to Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, fighting for control of outlying villages and towns and bombarding the centre from the air and with artillery. The 60,000 civilians trapped inside fear they are facing destruction of their city rather than its liberation from the Isis... Read More
Isis execution squads have appeared in the streets of Fallujah, a city 40 miles west of Baghdad, with orders to kill anybody trying to flee or surrender as government forces advance towards this Isis stronghold. “Groups of Isis fighters are saying they will kill anybody in Fallujah who leaves their house or waves a white... Read More
Fierce criticism has greeted the claim by the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, about the dangers of giving Turks easier entry to Europe. He said that for the EU “to offer visa-free access to 75 million Turks to stem the flow of migrants across the Aegean seems perverse, like storing gasoline next to... Read More
Can corruption be controlled by reform or is it so much the essential fuel sustaining political elites that it will only be ended – if it ends at all – by revolutionary change? The answer varies according to which countries one is talking about, but in many - particularly those relying on the sale of... Read More
In northern Syria carnage alternates with ceasefires as the Syrian air force pounds the rebel-held eastern side of Aleppo in a bid to drive out the remaining civilians. Rebel artillery replies in kind against government areas in the west of the city, but cannot match the firepower used against their enclave. Airstrikes on Thursday killed... Read More
Iraqis bursting into the Green Zone in Baghdad over the weekendwere able to see for the first time the palatial homes and offices of the corrupt and dysfunctional Iraqi leadership that has misgoverned the country for the last 13 years. As the security forces stood aside, protesters toppled a section of the 15-foot-high blast walls... Read More
The storming of the parliament building in Baghdad by protesterschanting the name of populist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is a sign that the political system built up since the US invasion in 2003 is disintegrating. The Iraqi security forces stood back and did nothing as the protesters burst into the Green Zone, graphically illustrating the... Read More
Trying to end its dependence on oil - and it's not going to work
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of the ailing King Salman and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, has launched a highly ambitious plan under which he says his country will speedily “end its addiction to oil.” In terms of its revolutionary ambition, lack of realism and potential for disruption, the plan has parallels with... Read More
Foreign leaders visiting King Salman of Saudi Arabia have noticed that there is a large flower display positioned just in front of where the 80-year-old monarch sits. On closer investigation, the visitors realised that the purpose of the flowers is to conceal a computer which acts as a teleprompter, enabling the King to appear capable... Read More
Nobody in Syria expects a quick solution to the crisis in which a mosaic of different interests and factions are battling to control the country. “My picture of Syrian society is that 30 per cent of people are militantly against the government, 30 per cent are for them, and 40 per cent don’t like anybody... Read More
In early June 2014 I was attending a conference in the Jordanian capital Amman about the war in Syria. I was arguing that the most important development in Syria was the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which was freely carrying out military operations in an enormous area reaching from the... Read More
The Arab Spring reported and misreported
I was sceptical from an early stage about the Arab Spring uprisings leading to the replacement of authoritarian regimes by secular democracies. Optimistic forecasts I was hearing in the first heady months of 2011 sounded suspiciously similar to what I had heard in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and in Baghdad... Read More
There used to be a mosaic of President George HW Bush on the floor at the entrance to the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad. It was placed there soon after the first Gulf War in 1991 and was a good likeness, though the artist gave Bush unnaturally jagged teeth and a slightly sinister grimace. The idea... Read More
Our ageing Russian-built helicopter flies into the Panjshir valley from the north, high over desolate, brown hills. We land at Changaram, a narrow point in the valley where lush, green fields and terraces cling to the sides of the mountains. All along the narrow dirt road are signs of the armies that have tried to... Read More
War reporting is easy to do but very difficult to do really well. There is great demand for a reporter’s output during the fighting because it is melodramatic and appeals to readers and viewers. This is what I used to label in my own mind as “twixt shot and shell” reporting, and there is nothing... Read More
They have done it again. The US, Britain and regional allies led by Saudi Arabia have come together to intervene in another country with calamitous results. Instead of achieving their aims, they have produced chaos, ruining the lives of millions of people and creating ideal conditions for salafi-jihadi movements like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. The... Read More
A shaky truce has stopped the fighting in only some parts of Yemen, as UN-backed efforts get under way to end a civil war that has killed 6,200 Yemenis and enabled al-Qaeda to set up its own mini-state in the south of the country. Often referred to as the “forgotten war”, the conflict has torn... Read More
Who shall doubt 'the secret hid Under Cheops' pyramid' Was that the contractor did Cheops out of several millions? The message of Rudyard Kipling’s poem is that corruption is always with us and has not changed much down the ages. There is some truth in this, but degrees of corruption greatly matter, as the Cheops... Read More
Boris15 / Shutterstock.com
The 100th anniversary of the Easter uprising of 1916 saw the beginnings of a deeper appreciation of the achievements of Sir Roger Casement who was hanged as a traitor in Pentonville prison on 3 August 1916. Over the following century he has never lacked for notoriety, famous as an Irish patriotic martyr, but discussion of... Read More
The recapture of Palmyra by the Syrian army is an important defeat for Isis, but does not mean it is disintegrating as it is pressed back into the self-declared Caliphate. Although Isis is reported to have left the bodies of 400 of its fighters in and around the ancient city, it appears to have withdrawn... Read More
It was suddenly announced last week that the Iraqi army was taking territory from Islamic State forces in what was presented as the first steps in an offensive to recapture the city of Mosul. It sounded as if the self-declared Caliphate was crumbling and was particularly welcome news since it coincided with the Isis suicide... Read More
Some 200 Iraqi political figures and members of foreign embassies have fled the Green Zone in Baghdad fearing that it may be invaded by hundreds of thousands of protesters enraged by the corruption and incompetence of the Iraqi government. The demonstrators are followers of the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who once fought the US... Read More
The capture of Salah Abdeslam, thought to be the sole surviving planner of the Paris massacre, means that the media is focusing once again on the threat of terrorist attack by Islamic State. Questions are asked about why the most wanted man in Europe was able to elude the police for so long, even though... Read More
The withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria strengthens the current ceasefire, de-escalates the violence and brings in view the distant prospect of an end to five years of war. The extent of the Russian pull-out remains uncertain as some of its bombers flew home on 15 March, while others attacked Isis fighters holding the ancient... Read More
Commentators have missed the significance of President Barack Obama’s acerbic criticism of Saudi Arabia and Sunni states long allied to the US for fomenting sectarian hatred and seeking to lure the US into fighting regional wars on their behalf. In a series of lengthy interviews with Jeffrey Goldberg published in The Atlantic magazine, Mr Obama... 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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Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr