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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 Patrick Cockburn ArchiveBlogview
In the wake of the massacre in Manchester, people rightly warn against blaming the entire Muslim community in Britain and the world. Certainly one of the aims of those who carry out such atrocities is to provoke the communal punishment of all Muslims, thereby alienating a portion of them who will then become open to... Read More
President Trump leaves the Middle East today, having done his bit to make the region even more divided and mired in conflict than it was before. At the same moment that Donald Trump was condemning the suicide bomber in Manchester as “an evil loser in life”, he was adding to the chaos in which al-Qaeda... Read More
It was crude stuff. President Trump called on 55 Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh to drive out terrorism from their countries. He identified Iran as a despotic state and came near to calling for regime change, though Iran held a presidential election generally regarded as fair only two days previously. He denounced Hezbollah and lined... Read More
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President Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, mere hours after US bombers attacked pro-Assad militiamen whom the US military say were threatening a base in southern Syria where US and British Special Forces are training rebel fighters. It would be naïve to imagine that the timing of the US attack, the first intentionally made against... Read More
The allegation that an espionage agent spying for Israel is in danger of losing his life because President Trump revealed classified information is deeply damaging to him. It is said that he told senior Russian officials that the spy had disclosed details of an Isis plot to blow up planes by placing explosives inside laptops... Read More
Many people view Donald Trump as the most dangerous man on the planet, but next week he flies to Saudi Arabia for a three-day visit during which he will meet a man who surely runs him a close second as a source of instability. This is deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31 – the... Read More
President Trump’s decision to provide weapons to the Syrian Kurds, who are fighting Isis, potentially marks a crucial change in the political geography of the Middle East. In effect, the US is choosing to support its Kurdish ally in Syria, in defiance of Turkey, whose aim is to prevent the establishment of a quasi-independent Kurdish... Read More
Suddenly the world is full of leaders from Theresa May to President Erdogan of Turkey claiming to unite their countries while visibly deepening their divisions. Denunciations of supposed threats at home and abroad are a common feature of this new political style, whether they are tweeted from the White House or spoken at the podium... Read More
When Lionel Messi scored a last minute winning goal for Barcelona against Real Madrid on 23 April, football fans in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous who had been watching the game on television rushed into the street to celebrate. This turned out to be a mistake from their point of view because many of... Read More
Politicians and establishment media have greeted what they see as President Trump’s return to the norms of American foreign policy. They welcome the actual or threatened use of military force in Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea, and praise his appointment of a bevvy of generals to senior security posts. A striking feature of Trump’s first... Read More
There is nothing surprising in Boris Johnson saying that it would be difficult for the UK not to join US military action in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in response to a chemical weapons attack. Since the Second World War British governments have been trying to strengthen the UK’s status as the most important... Read More
Officials at Baghdad International Airport became suspicious earlier this month when their X-ray machines could not see into 23 large bags unloaded from a Qatari plane, producing only a black image because the contents were wrapped in a special material impenetrable to detecting devices. They were further amazed when they opened the bags to discover... Read More
The criminalisation of the mentally ill is one of the cruellest and most easily avoidable tragedies of our era. In the next few days, the state of Arkansas is intending to execute by lethal injection a 60-year-old man called Bruce Ward who showed signs of insanity at the time of his conviction for murder and... Read More
What critics claim is the openly fraudulent Turkish referendum ends parliamentary democracy in the country and gives President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dictatorial powers. The most unexpected aspect of the poll on Sunday was not the declared outcome, but that the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) allegedly found it necessary to fix the vote quite... Read More
War-whoops and loud applause from foreign policy establishments and their media supporters have greeted President Trump’s missile strike in Syria, the dropping of the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan and the dispatch of a naval task force in the direction of North Korea. This spurt in belligerence over the last week has as much... Read More
It is very unlikely that Russia will change its support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, despite calls to do so from foreign ministers from the G7 nations gathered in Italy in the aftermath of the use of poison gas in Syria and the US missile strikes. Russia owes its return to great power status... Read More
In the final days before Turks vote in a referendum on 16 April on whether or not to give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dictatorial powers and effectively end parliamentary government, the mood in Turkey is prone to conspiracy theories and suspicion of foreign plots. A sign of this is the reception given to a tweet... Read More
President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians. He had criticised President Obama for being weak, slow and indecisive when facing similar challenges, so he could scarcely do nothing when President... Read More
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis and self-declared Caliph, escaped from the siege of Mosul two months ago when the road to the west was briefly re-opened by a fierce counter attack by Isis fighters, according to a senior Kurdish official. “Isis used 17 suicide car bombs from Mosul and some of their units... Read More
Isolated in their houses and short of food and water, people besieged in the Isis-held Old City of Mosul say it is like being held in an underground prison with little idea of the ebb and flow of the battle being fought around them. Iraqi government forces have advanced up to the periphery of the... Read More
Standing high above Mosul beside the ruins of the Nabi Yunus shrine, destroyed by Isis as idolatrous in 2014, one can see the west of the city on the far side of the Tigris River. There the Iraqi security forces and Isis are engaged in the fiercest and longest battle of the Iraq conflict. Like... Read More
People trapped in the Old City of Mosul are dying of hunger because they have not received any food for almost three weeks according to a resident. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Karim, a 28-year-old taxi driver who lives in the ancient centre of Mosul, says that many people, including several he knows,... Read More
The Iraqi government made a mistake that will allow Isis to survive by seeking to capture Mosul before eliminating other Isis safe havens in northern and western Iraq to which its fighters can retreat, according to a senior Iraqi leader. “It would have been better first to eliminate Daesh (Isis) sanctuaries to which they can... Read More
Civilians trying to flee the besieged Isis-held enclave in west Mosul are being shot dead by Isis and Iraqi army snipers as they try to cross the Tigris River, says an eyewitness trapped inside the city with his family. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Jasim, a 33-year old Iraqi Sunni living in west... Read More
Iraqi forces are stalled and suffering heavy casualties in their assault on the last Isis fighters defending close-packed buildings in the Old City of Mosul. Civilian loss of life is very high as US aircraft, Iraqi helicopters and artillery, try to target Isis strongpoints in a small area in which at least 300,000 civilians are... Read More
In the immediate aftermath of what police are describing as a terrorist incident in and around Parliament, at least three facts stand out suggesting that the attacks are similar to those carried out over the last two years by Isis supporters in Paris, Nice, Brussels and Berlin. . The similarities with the events today are... Read More
Brexit is English nationalism made flesh, but the English underrate its destructive potential as a form of communal identity. Concepts like “nationalism” and “self-determination” have traditionally been seen as something that happens to foreigners. An English failing today is an inability to recognise the egocentricity implicit in such nationalism and the extent to which it... Read More
The Trump administration is making its first radical policy change in the Middle East by escalating American involvement in the civil war in Yemen. Wrecked by years of conflict, the unfortunate country will supposedly be the place where the US will start to confront and roll back Iranian influence in the region as a whole.... Read More
Winners and losers are emerging in what may be the final phase of the Syrian civil war as anti-Isis forces prepare for an attack aimed at capturing Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria. Kurdish-led Syrian fighters say they have seized part of the road south of Raqqa, cutting Isis off from other its... Read More
After Isis captured Mosul in June 2014, people in Baghdad waited in terror to see if its fighters would go on to storm the capital. There was very little to stop them as the Iraqi army in northern Iraq broke up and fled south. Many government ministers and MPs rushed to the airport and took... Read More
Iraqi military forces are advancing towards the main complex of government buildings in the centre of west Mosul, indicating that Isis is losing control of its last big urban stronghold in Iraq. “The provincial council and the governorate building are within the firing range of the rapid response forces,” said an officer with the elite... Read More
Boris Yeltsin was making a presidential visit to Washington in 1995 when he was found one night outside the White House dressed only in his underpants. He explained in a slurred voice to US secret service agents that he was trying to hail a cab so he could go and buy a pizza. The following... Read More
Iraqi government forces have started their offensive aimed at capturing the western half of Mosul, Isis’s last big urban stronghold in the country. There are an estimated 4,000 jihadi fighters defending the close-packed houses and narrow alleyways in the half of the city west of the Tigris River, which is inhabited by some 650,000 civilians.... Read More
Self-absorbed and irrational Donald Trump may well be, but on Thursday he held what was probably the most interesting and entertaining White House press conference ever. These are usually grimly ritualistic events in which select members of the media establishment, who have often come to see themselves as part of the permanent government of the... Read More
The Iraqi armed forces will eventually capture west Mosul, which is still held by Isis fighters, but the city itself will be destroyed in the fighting, a senior Iraqi politician has told The Independent in an interview. Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish leader who until last year was the Iraqi finance minister and prior to that... Read More
President Trump made great play when he came into office with his return of a bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office, presenting the move as a symbol of his admiration for adamantine patriotic resolve in pursuit of patriotic ends. Presumably, Trump was thinking of Churchill in 1940, not Churchill in 1915-16 when he... Read More
In the south west corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Britain is complicit in one of the worst and least noticed crimes against humanity in the 21st century. Thanks to Saudi air strikes starting two years ago, a localised civil war in Yemen was transformed into a devastating conflict which has brought 12 million people to... Read More
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave Theresa May a frightening account during their meeting of the threat posed by Iranian aggression to Israel and everybody else. In Mr Netanyahu’s eyes, Iran is a much more dangerous enemy than Isis or al-Qaeda, seeking “to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe,... Read More
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President Trump is adding further venom to the raging sectarian hatreds tearing apart Iraq and Syria by his latest ill-judged tweets. These have far greater explosive potential than his better known clashes with countries like Australia and Mexico, because in the Middle East he is dealing with matters of war and peace. In this complex... Read More
Donald Trump’s travel ban on refugees and visitors from seven Muslim countries entering the US makes a terrorist attack on Americans at home or abroad more rather than less likely. It does so because one of the main purposes of al-Qaeda and Isis in carrying out atrocities is to provoke an over-reaction directed against Muslim... Read More
As the international political order fragments, Theresa May flies from seeing Donald Trump, who speaks approvingly of the use of torture, to a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is presiding over the reintroduction of torture in Turkey. The opportunism and hypocrisy of British foreign policy, as the UK flails around for new allies... Read More
The Turkish army is suffering unexpectedly serious losses in men and equipment as it engages in its first real battle against Isis fighters holding al-Bab, a small but strategically placed city north east of Aleppo. Turkish military commanders had hoped to capture al-Bab quickly when their forces attacked it in December, but they are failing... Read More
The Syrian peace talks arranged by Russia, Turkey and Iran that opened today in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, show that President Bashar al-Assad is winning the six-year-old war, but his final victory may be a long way off. Several participants in the conference have good reasons to fight on and Isis has recently made... Read More
It is an era of instability and disintegration which began in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 and in Europe and the US in 2016. These regions are very different, but their recent political convulsions have basic features in common, notably a feeling shared by people from the Mississippi to the Euphrates that... Read More
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
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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