Middle East update: November 8 2017

SYRIA There’s been no official confirmation as I write this, but “pro-government sources” are saying that the Syrian army and its allied militias (including at least one–Kataib Hezbollah–that has crossed into Syria from Iraq) have captured al-Bukamal, the last ISIS position of any significance in eastern Syria and along the Syria-Iraq border. If true, this means… Continue reading Middle East update: November 8 2017

Middle East update: October 25 2017

IRAQ The Iraqi military has started dropping leaflets on the western Anbar towns of Qaim and Rawa, and their environs, in what sure seems like the prelude to a resumption of their offensive in that part of the country. The leaflets say, in part, that “your security forces are now coming to liberate you.” The… Continue reading Middle East update: October 25 2017

Conflict update: March 18-19 2017

BOILING IT DOWN If you’re one of those folks who are convinced that climate change is a Chinese hoax or whatever, I’ve got great news: it snowed in the US last week. Problem solved, am I right? Anyway, for the rest of us, things are not so hot. Or, rather, they’re extremely hot, and that’s… Continue reading Conflict update: March 18-19 2017

Oh, well, by all means carry on then

Last Wednesday the Washington Post produced a graphic purporting to show the number of migrant workers who have died in Qatar (1200) on work related to the 2022 World Cup as compared to worker deaths for other major international sporting events (I used it here). Qatar cried foul, saying that those 1200 migrant workers, while… Continue reading Oh, well, by all means carry on then

Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy most anything else

If you’re at all familiar with Arabic society, you know that it has some roots in the pastoral nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin, who have herded sheep, goats, and camels around the Arabian peninsula and into the Syrian and Egyptian deserts for as long as people have been keeping written records in and about that… Continue reading Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy most anything else

America’s kafalah system

At Vox today, Dara Lind distills a report from The Urban Institute and Northwestern University on the underground forced labor market here in America, which in several respects sounds an awful lot like the kafalah system in place for migrant workers in the Persian Gulf: Here’s how it happens: a person in Mexico or the… Continue reading America’s kafalah system

How many people do you need to kill to host a World Cup?

If the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, or the UAE actually cared about the safety of migrant workers in the Persian Gulf, this would have been a pretty good rationale for withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar: A report from the International Trade Union Confederation says 1,200 migrant workers from India and Nepal have died in… Continue reading How many people do you need to kill to host a World Cup?