Patrick Cockburn
Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. He has written four books on the country's recent history. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009. He has written three books on Iraq. He won the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009 for his coverage of Iraq and his son's schizophrenia. In 2010, He won a Peace through Media award from the International Council for Press and Broadcasting at the sixth annual International Media Awards.
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It is fortunate for Saudi Arabia and Qatar that the furore over the sexual 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 US response to the rapid advance of Isis forces, which were then sweeping through northern Iraq and eastern Syria. At the time, the US government was not admitting that Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies were supporting Isis and al-Qaeda-type movements. But in the leaked memo, which says that it draws on “western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region” there is no ambivalence about who is backing Isis, which at the time of writing was butchering and raping Yazidi villagers and slaughtering captured Iraqi and Syrian soldiers.

Kurdish forces, close to sealing the border, must beware – President Erdogan is unpredictable A month before Turkey shot down a Russian bomber which it accused of entering its airspace, Russian military intelligence had warned President Vladimir Putin that this was the Turkish plan. Diplomats familiar with the events say that Putin dismissed the warning, […]

World View: New claims say Ankara worked with the US and Britain to smuggle Gaddafi’s guns to rebel groups The US’s Secretary of State John Kerry and its UN ambassador, Samantha Power have been pushing for more assistance to be given to the Syrian rebels. This is despite strong evidence that the Syrian armed opposition are, more than ever, dominated by jihadi fighters similar in their beliefs and methods to al-Qa’ida. The recent attack by rebel forces around Latakia, northern Syria, which initially had a measure of success, was led by Chechen and Moroccan jihadis. America has done its best to keep secret its role in supplying the Syrian armed opposition, operating through proxies and front companies. It is this which makes Seymour Hersh’s article “The Red Line and The Rat Line: Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian rebels” published last week in the London Review of Books, so interesting.

Its government has no real power; militias are ever more entrenched, and now the state itself is under threat The Libyan former prime minister Ali Zeidan fled last week after parliament voted him out of office. A North Korean-flagged oil tanker, the Morning Glory, illegally picked up a cargo of crude from rebels in the […]

Beirut –  A long-awaited peace conference on Syria is likely to go ahead without one of the major participants of the conflict after the United Nations withdrew an invitation to Iran to attend the talks in Geneva. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, rescinded Iran’s invitation on the same day it was unexpectedly issued, following the […]

Soon after the Libyan capital fell to the rebels in August 2011 I got to know a 32-year-old man called Ahmed Abdullah al-Ghadamsi. We met when he tried to evict me from my hotel room, which he said was needed for members of the National Transitional Council, in effect the provisional government of Libya. I […]

Donors in Saudi Arabia have notoriously played a pivotal role in creating and maintaining Sunni jihadist groups over the past 30 years. But, for all the supposed determination of the United States and its allies since 9/11 to fight “the war on terror”, they have showed astonishing restraint when it comes to pressuring Saudi Arabia […]

World View: Compromise is no longer feasible, and the army controls the levers of power. But can its victory be conclusive? All parties in Egypt have overplayed their hands in the two and a half years since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In the first months it was the army high command deceiving […]

Every time I come to Syria I am struck by how different the situation is on the ground from the way it is pictured in the outside world. The foreign media reporting of the Syrian conflict is surely as inaccurate and misleading as anything we have seen since the start of the First World War. […]

In Northern Ireland it used to be called “the politics of the last atrocity”, when the latest act of violence and the retaliation it provoked dictated the direction of day-to-day politics. Syria has travelled far in this direction, its towns convulsed by mini-civil wars too bitter and bloodstained to end by mediation.  It is this […]

The air is full of dire warnings of an impending Israeli attack on Iran. Prophets of doom declare themselves full of forebodings and point fearfully to the meeting in the White House between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as crucial in making the decisions that will lead to peace or war. […]

“The US has an army of 90,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and is spending $100 billion a year, but has still been unable to defeat 20,000-25,000 Taliban who receive no pay at all.”   The United States’ announcement that it plans to end the combat role of its troops in Afghanistan earlier than expected, and before […]

In the tea houses of Istanbul the mood is generally optimistic as customers listen to the news of the European economic crisis. “Turkey doesn’t need Europe,” says one tea drinker.  “Look at Greece – it was inside the European Union and they’re going bankrupt.” Osman, a middle-aged estate agent, adds that “when you compare Turkey […]

“Rumor” used to have a bad reputation. In Shakespeare’s plays it is assumed that “rumors” mean artful lies and the spreading of detailed but false accounts of victory and defeat. No journalist could credibly tell of massacre, torture and mass arrests, citing “strong rumors” as the sole evidence for the story. Editors at whatever newspaper, […]

The demonization campaign against Iran has the earmarks of a prelude for a military attack by the U.S. and Israel against Iran. The propaganda is very similar to that heaped upon Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in 2002. In both cases, an isolated state with limited resources is portrayed as posing a genuine threat to the region […]

The claim that Iran employed a used-car salesman with a conviction for cheque fraud to hire Mexican gangsters to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington goes against all that is known of Iran’s highly sophisticated intelligence service.   The confident announcement of this bizarre plot by the US Attorney General Eric Holder sounds alarmingly similar […]

A war of extraordinary brutality is being waged across the Muslim world which is largely ignored by the media. It is a war in which victims are assassinated or massacred with no chance to defend themselves. Most of those who die are poor people murdered in obscure places without the world paying any attention. Few […]

The political world has turned upside down in the Middle East since the Arab Awakening erupted. The region has been convulsed by the most radical changes since the end of imperial occupation and the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948. One significant development is becoming evident: many Arab countries may be more democratic […]

The Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, arrived in Egypt yesterday at the start of a three-nation tour as Turkey toughens its stance towards Israel and seeks to become the predominant power among Muslim states in the Middle East and North Africa. After Egypt, Erdogan will visit Tunisia and Libya to show Turkey’s support for both […]

What was the most devastating attack by al-Qa’ida in the past few months? Despite all the pious talk this weekend about combating “terrorism”, few will have heard of it. It happened on 15 August when bombers killed 63 people in 17 cities up and down Iraq in the space of a few hours. Such carnage […]

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