The Syrian Jihad: The Evolution of an Insurgency

November 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

A comprehensive presentation on Syria’s evolving insurgency by Charles Lister. (Also don’t miss this interview with Lister).

“India,” “Secularism,” and Its Dissenting Authors Or “Der Āyad, Durust Āyad, but is this even an arrival”?

October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

by Huma Dar

Nagpur July 31, 2014: Senior scientist and Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam visited RSS headquarters near Reshimbagh Nagpur and offered tributes to (Hindu Nationalist) RSS Founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at ‘Smruti Mandir’ Nagpur.

Nagpur July 31, 2014: Senior scientist and Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam visited RSS headquarters near Reshimbagh Nagpur and offered tributes to (Hindu Nationalist) RSS Founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at ‘Smruti Mandir’ Nagpur.

“Prominent writers in India are collectively protesting what they consider an increase in hostility and intolerance, which they argue has been allowed to fester under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by returning a prestigious literary award.”

Referring to attacks against Muslims, including the killing of a man who had been suspected of slaughtering a cow, he said, “This is not the country that our great leaders had envisioned.” (Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Sahitya Akademi Award, 1975)
The newsfeed on most South Asian social media has been deluged by articles like the one in The New York Times above. However, one has to wonder what kept these literary “stars” from this praiseworthy gesture of returning their State-given awards when the Gujarat pogroms were going on in 2002, or against the pogroms that followed the demolition of Babri masjid in 1992/3, or against the genocide of Sikhs around 1984, or heck, against the ongoing genocide in Indian Occupied Kashmir or that of Dalits… My apologies for this query which might seem cynical at first blush, but is actually a probing of the very problematic notions of “India” and “Indian secularism” that these authors and poets valorize, explicitly or implicitly, through this gesture or through their work. Brahminical, colonial, and Islamophobic at the core, it is precisely these twin concepts that are the fecund incubating ground not only of the acts of spectacular violence in the current context, at the contemporary moment, but also of the banal acts of quotidian violence that fertilize the roots, leave alone of the comparably spectacular violence of the allegedly “secular” contexts, that preceded and co-exist at any given time.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Kenneth Roth takes on Russian apologists for Assad’s terror

October 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Human Rights Watch executive director on RT challenging pro-Assad propaganda.

Can the revolution in Syria survive an imperial carve up?

October 7, 2015 § 2 Comments

by Mark Boothroyd

The situation facing the Assad regime is dire. Having lost almost every major battle it has fought with the armed rebels for over a year now, it is facing crises on every front. Since March it has lost control of the entire province of Idlib to the Jaysh Al-Fatah coalition. In Aleppo, the Fatah Halab coalition are on the offensive and gradually liberating districts of the city from the regime, while last month the regime’s only ground supply route to the city was temporarily severed by rebels. In the south the Southern Front continues to pressure the regime around Daraa, and is advancing in Quneitra province, while rebels in Lattakia continue to mount incursions into the regime loyalist province.

Rebel advances in Idlib province May 2014 – May 2015 Credit: Archicivilians

Rebel advances in Daraa province May 2014 – May 2015 Credit: Archicivilians

Assad is facing a manpower shortage as tens of thousands of Syrians flee regime held areas to escape conscription and deteriorating living conditions. Refugees who left Syria recently describe being unable to live, as regular electricity and water cuts, and the rising price of food and rents makes the situation unbearable.

« Read the rest of this entry »

A masterclass in sophistry: Patrick Cockburn on the Russian intervention in Syria

October 4, 2015 § 1 Comment

by Gilbert Achcar

A recent 2-part series on Syria in The Independent by Patrick Cockburn, one of the most influential journalists on the subject, is a masterclass in sophistry that illustrates why the conflict is so misunderstood. A closer look is therefore instructive.

On October 2, in an article titled “Syria crisis: The West wrings its hands in horror but it was our folly that helped create this bloodbath”, Cockburn writes:

Reaction to Russia’s military intervention in Syria shows that the lack of knowledge of the Syrian political landscape on the part of Western political leaders and media is hindering the adoption of more constructive policies. During the past four years, over-simplifications and wishful thinking have prevented any realistic attempt to end the civil war, mitigate its effects or stop it from spreading to other countries.

Since 2011 the departure from power of President Bashar al-Assad has been prescribed as a quick way to bring an end to the conflict, although there is no reason to believe this. There are no quick or easy solutions: Syria is being torn apart by a genuine, multi-layered civil war with a multitude of self-interested players inside and outside the country. If Assad dropped dead tomorrow, Syrians in his corner would not stop fighting, knowing as they do that the success of an opposition movement dominated by Isis and al-Qaeda clones such as Jabhat al-Nusra would mean death or flight for them and their families.

Sophism 1: Those in the West who have been calling for Assad’s departure as a condition for bringing an end to the conflict meant it as part of a “national reconciliation” and “managed transition,” not as Assad “dropping dead tomorrow,” of course.

Today there are four million Syrian refugees, mostly from opposition areas being bombarded indiscriminately by government forces. But this figure could double if the more populous pro-government areas become too dangerous to live in.

In the past, this was not likely to happen because Assad always controlled at least 12 out of 14 Syrian provincial capitals.

Sophism 2: In other words: don’t let more populous areas slip out of government control lest they get “bombarded indiscriminately by government forces” (a welcome acknowledgement of the obvious truth) and end up sending more refugees! « Read the rest of this entry »

Did the West ignore a Russian offer for Assad to step down as President?

September 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

by Brian Slocock


A story published in the Guardian on 16 September entitled “West ‘ignored Russian offer for Assad to step down as President’” has evoked considerable excitement on both sides of the Atlantic. The story is based on a claim by former Finnish President and UN Diplomat Martti Ahtisaari that the West failed to respond to an overture made in February 2012 by Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. According to Ahtisaari, Churkin, in a private conversation suggested a means for resolving the Syrian crisis:

He said: ‘Martti, sit down and I’ll tell you what we should do.’ “He said three things: One – we should not give arms to the opposition. Two – we should get a dialogue going between the opposition and Assad straight away. Three – we should find an elegant way for Assad to step aside.”

The Guardian seems to have felt the need to “sex up” these comments, turning them into a “3-point plan”. (Of course this plan already existed, in the form of the Arab League initiative of 22 January 2012, of which more below).

« Read the rest of this entry »

A Critique of Subaltern Studies and Appropriative Solidarity: A Response to ‘Dear Prof. Chatterjee, When Will You Engage with the “Discomfort” of Indian Occupied Kashmir?’

September 11, 2015 § 2 Comments

by Pothik Ghosh

More Info on the Indian Occupation of Jammu & Kashmir at

More Info on the Indian Occupation of Jammu & Kashmir at

A sharply combative polemic that hits the nail on the head and which must, for that reason, be hailed. However, I doubt that Chatterjee’s response, if at all he deigns to come up with one, will throw any new light on the matter, much less open new horizons. His intellectual orientation and theoretical presuppositions — which stem from his political complicity only to reinforce it – are simply incapable of that. Subalternity is a constitutive crisis of the horizon or structure of valourisation, measure, distribution and/or representation. (The operative word here is constitutive.) In such circumstances, to envisage politics in terms of affirmation of subalternity – which is precisely the theoretical and historiographical project of the Subaltern Studies collective – is to reproduce that structure and its constitutive lack or crisis. For, subalternity is the crisis of the structure of representation that is nevertheless sutured on to it. In other words, to envisage politics in terms of affirming subalternity is to reproduce the constitutive duality of the élite and the subaltern, and thus enable its continued extension through intensification. This is pretty much a continuation through intensification of the politics of passive revolution. Something the Subaltern Studies, and Chatterjee in particular, claimed to have critiqued — albeit only as one of its concrete historical moments or appearances — by precisely perpetuating its general political mode.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Uncategorized category at P U L S E.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,237 other followers

%d bloggers like this: