The khan visits the tsar 

Brian  M Downing  King Salman of Saudi Arabia visited his counterpart in Russia last week – a further sign that events and alignments move quickly in the world. Such a visit was improbable two years ago when Putin sent his military to Syria against Saudi-backed rebels, and unthinkable thirty years Read More …

The Kurds face betrayal once again

Brian M Downing After the end of World War One and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds expected the statesmen at Versailles to recognize their right to self-determination. An independent Kurdish state appeared within reach. The British, French, Turks, and Persians had other ideas. Partition and repression followed. Read More …

What comes after Idlib?

Brian M Downing  The Syrian war took another turn this week as several dozen Idlib civilians were killed by noxious clouds. The victims’ symptoms point to nerve gas, possibly sarin. Subsequent autopsies support this. World opinion, generally weary of the endless conflict and the numerous atrocities, is angry. For years people Read More …

The (worrisome) Putin-Trump partnership 

Brian M Downing  The Trump administration talks of a new era of cooperation with Russia. The historical rivals, it believes, can work together in fighting ISIL and developing oil and gas fields, especially in the forbidding trans-Ural and Arctic regions. The partnership may be facilitated by the affinities between two Read More …