Special Analysis

Wagging the Bitcoin Dog

On Wednesday, thousands of Salvadorans celebrated the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence by marching in protest against President Nayib Bukele’s administration. President Bukele’s decision to make Bitcoin an officially recognized currency in El Salvador succeeded in getting a lot of attention. And that was precisely the point. The boldness …

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How Corporations Won the War on Terror

The costs and consequences of America’s twenty-first-century wars have by now been well-documented — a staggering $8 trillion in expenditures and more than 380,000 civilian deaths, as calculated by Brown University’s Costs of War project. The question of who has benefited most from such an orgy of military spending has, …

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Overkill: Reforming the Legal Basis for the U.S. War on Terror

What’s new? The U.S. government is conducting a formal review of its counter-terrorism direct action operations – ie, those that involve kill or capture. But it is not clear that the review will shed light on key questions about the effectiveness of militarised counter-terrorism efforts or recommend major changes. Why does …

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Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State

The Islamic State, al-Qaeda-linked groups, Boko Haram and other extremist movements are protagonists in today’s deadliest crises, complicating efforts to end them. They have exploited wars, state collapse and geopolitical upheaval in the Middle East, gained new footholds in Africa and pose an evolving threat elsewhere. Reversing their gains requires …

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Russia rethinks the status quo in southern Syria

Introduction In June 2021, southern Syria once again dominated the headlines when the regime laid siege to the Daraa al-Balad area of Daraa city. A few days after the monthlong siege, an agreement to end the escalation collapsed and the Syrian army’s Fourth Division spearheaded a major military push in …

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Islamic State Under-Reporting in Central Syria: Misdirection, Misinformation, or Miscommunication?

The central media apparatus of the Islamic State group is mis-reporting on the activities of its cells in central Syria. Rather than exaggerating their capabilities, something that it is conventionally assumed to be doing all the time,1 its Central Media Diwan appears either to be deliberately under-playing them, or, less …

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The South Syria Deal: Two Years Later

Two years have passed since Syria’s south and southwestern regions were seized by government forces. Dubbed the “South Syria Deal,” a U.S.-Russian understanding with Jordan’s and Israel’s blessings, government forces and “state Symbols” took control of the countrysides of Daraa and Qunaytirah. Daraa-based opposition forces had to surrender and make …

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Finding a way forward in the Baghdad-Erbil oil dispute

Disagreements between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over oil policy have been one of Iraq’s most stubborn problems. Resolving this issue would allow for better development of natural resources, generate more revenue that’s badly needed for reconstruction, and might potentially deflate competing claims to disputed territories. There are …

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