July 24, 2020

Written in Gratitude, on the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings of 1944.

Soldiers under fire on Queen sector of Sword Beach

A few years after I made aliyah, my parents sold the house that my sister and I had grown up in and moved to a sheltered housing facility for elderly people in north London. My mum and dad are warm and friendly people and they soon made friends with many of the other couples on the estate. Among these were a family by the name of Lamb – Ken Lamb and his wife Meeda. Ken Lamb was Devon-born, and Meeda was Welsh. Ken had worked for many years in the construction trade in London, and he and my … [Read more...]

[PHOTO] At a Front Line Position Near Jarabulus, April, 2014

Jonathan Spyer at a front line position near Jarabulus, April, 2014

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[PHOTO] YPG Fighters in Action During an ISIS Attack on Haj Ismail Village, April, 2014

YPG fighters in action during an ISIS attack on Haj Ismail village, April, 2014

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Lebanon Shaken by Car Bomb in Dahiyeh


Jerusalem Post, 12/7. A car bomb exploded on Tuesday of this week in the Bir al-Abed neighborhood of south Beirut. At least 53 people were wounded. There were no fatalities. The bomb left a crater 2 meters deep. Bir al-Abed is situated in the heart of the Dahiyeh section of the city – home to the headquarters of Hizballah and the place of residence of many of its most senior cadres. A little known Syrian rebel group, the ‘Brigade 313 Special Forces’ has claimed responsibility for the … [Read more...]

Hizballah enters the Syrian Abyss


Two Grad rockets were fired this week at the south Beirut suburb of Shiyah. This district borders the Dahiyeh – the stronghold in the city which houses the main offices of Hizballah. The decision to strike so close to Hizballah’s nerve center is a dramatic escalation by the Syrian rebels of their simmering conflict with the Lebanese Shia militia. The official leadership of the Free Syrian Army repudiated earlier claims of responsibility for the rocket fire issued in its name. But the … [Read more...]

Taken – a novel by Michael Totten. Book Review.


Taken’ is the first novel by Michael Totten. Totten, an American blogger and foreign correspondent, is the author of ‘the Road to Fatima Gate’ and two other works of reportage.  In the Middle East, he has reported from Lebanon, Iraq and Israel. Totten has pioneered an approach to the work of the foreign correspondent’s trade appropriate to the digital age.  Travelling light, unencumbered by formal affiliation to bureau or newspaper, he has managed in his reportage to achieve an … [Read more...]

The Failure of Western Policy on Syria


The Syrian civil war has now entered its third year with no end in sight. Over 70,000 people have died. 1.5 million refugees have fled Syria, with another two million displaced within the country’s borders. According to the UN, around four million Syrians are in need of aid. Despite gains and losses on both sides, the rebels and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad appear locked in a very bloody stalemate. At the same time, the reaction of the United States and the Western powers has been … [Read more...]

Erdogan’s Kurdish Gambit


Jerusalem Post, 17/5 On May 8th, fighters of the Kurdish PKK militia began to withdraw from their positions in Turkey, bound for their mountain strongholds in Kurdish-ruled northern Iraq. The decision by the PKK to withdraw is the result of orders issued by jailed movement leader Abdullah Ocalan. The re-energizing of the Turkish-Kurdish ‘peace process’ is one of the most important of the phenomena generated by the seismic shifts currently under way in the Middle East. But the foundations … [Read more...]

The Israeli Debate over Syria


  Tablet Magazine, 14/5: The civil war in Syria has led to a keen debate among the professional echelon tasked with advising policymakers in Israel. This debate has been reflected in a more subdued public conversation and occasionally in spectacular events—like the bombing of Syrian military sites around Damascus. So, what are the dividing lines in this Israeli debate? Does Israel back any side in the war in Syria? And what would be an optimal outcome from the Israeli point of … [Read more...]

Is Assad Winning?


The imminent demise of the Assad regime has been announced on numerous occasions over the last two years of civil war in Syria. But the regime has held on. Despite some advances by rebels in the south of the country in the early months of 2013, Assad shows no signs of cracking. Indeed, in the last few weeks, the momentum of the fighting has somewhat shifted. Regime forces have clawed back areas of recent rebel advance. The government side, evidently under Iranian tutelage, has showed an … [Read more...]