The problem of involuntary (?) foreign fighters

There’s a situation happening in Australia that, one way or another, may set a precedent for the way that Western nations deal with one particular subset of the “foreign fighters” problem: the foreign fighter who was coerced into fighting. Adam Brookman is an Australian nurse and a convert to Islam, neither of which is illegal… Continue reading The problem of involuntary (?) foreign fighters

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Siffin (657)

Today is (give or take) the anniversary of the start of the Battle of Siffin, during the First Fitna (civil war) in Islamic history. Regular readers may have heard of it before. The Caliph, Ali, took an army of 80,000 men (allegedly; historical sources are notoriously unreliable when it comes to army sizes) against the… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Siffin (657)

Should’ve checked the fine print

We’re a couple of days into the new phase of Turkey’s “war on terror,” and so far it looks pretty much like the old phase, where the Turks offer nominal lip-service about opposing ISIS but focus their energy, and ordinance, almost exclusively on the Kurds. Turkey’s air force has allegedly flown hundreds of sorties against… Continue reading Should’ve checked the fine print

Saturday Night Tunes: Jelly Roll Morton

Since we spend so much time on 1950s and 1960s-era jazz in this series, I thought I’d take things really old school this week, all the way back to the man who claimed to have “invented” jazz, Jelly Roll Morton (d. 1941). Morton was born Ferdinand Joseph LaMotte (though there are disagreements as to how… Continue reading Saturday Night Tunes: Jelly Roll Morton

In Burundi, all’s well that ends (?) well, or something

In a result that surprised nobody who’s been paying any attention, Burundi’s incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza officially won his third term in office today, as Burundi’s electoral commission announced the results of Tuesday’s election. The election was boycotted by opposition candidates, so the result was a foregone conclusion. Nkurunziza is now getting heat from international… Continue reading In Burundi, all’s well that ends (?) well, or something

Trying to make Bibi happy

The Wall Street Journal, in what appears to be quite a Friday News Dump, is reporting that the Obama administration is looking to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. They say it’s possible that his release could come in a matter of weeks, but it’s far more likely that he’ll be released in November, when… Continue reading Trying to make Bibi happy