How Western-backed Saudi fundamentalism is causing chaos

One of the great unspoken truths of the 21st century. After this week’s shocking terrorist acts in Russia, it’s possible (though impossible to know) that Saudi Arabia may be behind the carnage (they threatened as much a few months ago). The venerable Patrick Cockburn, writing in the UK Independent, on the ominous signs of sectarian…

Add Saudi, insert extremism, change Syria, bring chaos

What could possibly go wrong (and since when is Saudi Arabia, that US-backed apartheid state in the Middle East, a believer in democracy?). Foreign Policy reports: Saudi Arabia, having largely abandoned hope that the United States will spearhead international efforts to topple the Assad regime, is embarking on a major new effort to train Syrian…

War in Syria exposes gross Western hypocrisy

My following piece appears in the Guardian today: Syrian president Bashar al-Assad wasn’t supposed to survive. Since the uprising began in 2011, it’s been long presumed in western political and media circles that he would be deposed or killed and that a new, more US-friendly autocrat would be installed. This hasn’t happened. We know Russia…

Sri Lanka isn’t a holiday destination for writers. Discuss

How should an artist or writer act in a police state? How should a tourist? What’s the moral response? Here’s a great piece by Jacinda Woodhead in Overland which tackles the thorny questions in a thoughtful way. I was asked to comment: Listening to 3RRR’s… Aural text… on Wednesday, I heard alicia sometimes mention the four-week residency…

If I ruled the world

I was asked by Osman Faruqi, editor of the University of New South Wales student newspaper Tharunka, to write a column: The role of the US hegemony is over. Washington no longer controls the world by charm and force. It’s a multipolar planet with countless centres of power. Wouldn’t this be something to celebrate? In…

When the Saudis strike Yemen don’t expect Washington or MSM to care

The “war on terror” remains as murky as ever. Interesting post by Sheila Carapico for Middle East Research and Information Project: Senate hearings to confirm John Brennan as the Obama administration’s appointment to be director of the CIA… brought to light… a heretofore clandestine American military facility in Saudi Arabia near the kingdom’s border with Yemen. While…

So this is how the Iraq war could have started

A fascinating insight from the British mercenary Simon Mann in Vice magazine about what the Bush administration were really like; criminals on a war mission: Weren’t you also asked to help kick start the Iraq War in 2002? Yes. Someone who said he was friends with the American neocons asked me to come up with…