Idrees Ahmad

Idrees-Ahmad-260x260I am a Senior Lecturer and Director of Journalism at the University of Essex, a founding editor of New Lines Magazine, and a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books. I designed and directed the University of Stirling’s postgraduate programme in journalism. I am a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am a writer and photographer with a doctorate in sociology and specialisation in international conflicts. I have also lectured in politics, philosophy,  international relations, religion, media, film and cultural studies at the Universities of Stirling, Strathclyde, Glasgow, Sheffield and Creative Arts. I am the author of The Road to Iraq (Edinburgh University Press). (Reviews: here, here, here, here and here). I am currently writing a book for Columbia University Press on the war of narratives over Syria.

I write for The Washington PostNew York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, The Observer, The NationLos Angeles Review of Books, London Review of Books, The Daily BeastProspectThe AtlanticThe New Republic, Times Literary SupplementAl Jazeera, Dissent, OpenDemocracy, The Conversation, Le Monde DiplomatiqueThe National, VICE News, The Progressive, The Navigator, Huffington Post, In These Times, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Byline Times, Adbusters, Guernica, The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Newsline, Asia Times, IPS News, Political InsightThe Drouth and Tanqeed. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on the BBC, ABC, Al Jazeera, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

I am the former captain of the American University, Dubai’s tennis team. In 2004, I was the co-winner of the University of Pittsburgh’s Dubai Jazz Talent Hunt, selected by a panel that included Larry Coryell and James Moody.

My favorite authors are: Lev Tolstoy, William Faulkner, J.M. Coetzee, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Jose Saramago. Essayists I admire include Tony Judt, Joan Didion and John Berger. I am a Shakespeare fanatic. And the filmmakers I worship include John Ford, Orson Welles, Sidney Lumet, Ken Loach, Akira Kurosawa, Terrence Mallick, Robert Altman, and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Selected Media Appearances

Discussing Russia’s Disinformation War in Syria and Ukraine

Discussing counterinsurgency on Al Jazeera

Discussing Syria on TRT World

Debating Prof. Stephen Walt of Harvard on Radio Open Source.

Discussing drones

Selected Journalism

  • ‘Biden’s Bumpy Visit to Saudi Arabia Exposes U.S. Limits’, New Lines Magazine, 15 July 2022.
  • ‘Globally, a Waning Gun Culture: Is It a Lesson for America?’ New Lines Magazine, 1 June 2022.
  • ‘How Russia’s Disinformation Apparatus Ran Aground in Ukraine’, Byline Times, 22 March 2022.
  • ‘Europe’s Hospitality for Refugees Won’t Last Forever’, Foreign Policy, 18 March 2022.
  • ‘Missing Piece in America’s Afghan Puzzle’, New York Review of Books, 28 January 2022.
  • ‘A Requiem for Afghan Dreams’, The Drouth, 10 October 2021.
  • ‘Syrians Die in the Darkness’, New York Review of Books, 20 July 2021.
  • ‘The Day the World Stood Still’, New Lines Magazine, 23 February 2021.
  • ‘How Disinformation Works’, The Navigator, Centre for Global Policy, 20 March 2020.
  • ‘The Turkish incursion and European responsibility’, Foreign Policy, 4 March 2020.
  • ‘Syria’s War on Screen: An Exchange’, New York Review of Books, 17 February 2020.
  • ‘Chronicle of Deaths Foretold’, The New Arab, 17 October 2019.
  • ‘Europe’s Fear of Refugees Is the Only Thing That Can Save Syria’, Foreign Policy, 4 September 2019.
  • ‘Bellingcat and How Open Source Reinvented Investigative Journalism’, New York Review of Books, 10 July 2019.
  • ‘Syria’s Monumental Loss’, New York Review of Books, 23 February 2019.
  • ‘Shamima Begum and Sajid Javid’s Circle of (T)error’, The New Arab, 21 February 2019.
  • ‘Trauma and truth on the frontline’, The Conversation, 13 November 2018.
  • ‘Outrage over killing of journalists is essential’, Bella Caledonia, 11 November 2018.
  • ‘How did John Kerry become so wooden?’, Prospect, 17 October 2018.
  • ‘Bridges and Walls’, Times Literary Supplement, 16 October 2018.
  • ‘How Assad Made Truth a Casualty of War’, New York Review of Books, 7 September 2018.
  • ‘Syria: on academic freedom and responsibility’, openDemocracy, 26 April 2018.
  • ‘Truth Is the First Step to Accountability in Syria’, The Progressive, 25 April 2018.
  • ‘Are there really ‘no good guys’ in Syria?’, The New Arab, 20 April 2018.
  • ‘Syria in 2018 is not Iraq in 2003’, Al Jazeera, 20 April 2018.
  • ‘Making dreams smaller’, Times Literary Supplement, 9 January 2018.
  • ‘Manufactured doubt and moral atrophy’, The New Arab, 11 October 2017.
  • ‘For whom the bell tolls in Syria’, The New Arab, 18 September 2017.
  • ‘The alt-left is real, and it’s helping fascists’, The New Arab, 24 August 2017.
  • ‘Of Monsters and Men’, The New Arab, 10 August 2017.
  • ‘Syria and the Case for Editorial Accountability’, Al Jazeera, 12 July 2017.
  • ‘Why Macron is wrong about Assad’, Al Jazeera, 26 June 2017.
  • ‘Why Netflix’s War Machine fails to strike at a heart of darkness’, The National, 8 June 2017.
  • ‘Chomsky and the Syria revisionists (2): The Left’s moral cul-de-sac’, The New Arab, 5 May 2017.
  • ‘Chomsky and the Syria revisionists (1): Regime whitewashing’, The New Arab, 5 May 2017.
  • ‘What Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism signifies in the age of Donald Trump’, The National, 27 April 2017.
  • ‘The Trump Administration Responds to Syria’s Assad with Missiles’, The Progressive, 7 April 2017.
  • ‘RT and Syria: the Triumph of Narrative over Facts’, Newsline, 20 March 2017.
  • ‘For Russian TV, Syria isn’t just a foreign country — it’s a parallel universe’, Washington Post, 13 March 2017.
  • ‘Arab Spring to Aleppo’, The News on Sunday, 25 December 2016.
  • ‘Barack Obama’s presidency will be defined by his failure to face down Assad’, The Observer, 17 December 2016.
  • ‘Aleppo has been ravaged more ruthlessly than Baghdad was by the Mongols’, TRT World, 15 December 2016.
  • ‘Of Levant and Leviathan’, Los Angeles Review of Books, 6 December 2016.
  • ‘Dead Doctors and a Poisoned Pen in Aleppo’, The New Arab, 3 November 2016.
  • ‘What do Syrians want?’, Dissent, Summer 2016.
  • ‘Aleppo in a time of Monsters’, The New Arab, 6 May 2016.
  • ‘Aleppo is our Guernica—and some are cheering on the Luftwaffe’, Medium, 27 February 2016; Huffington Post, 15 March 2016.
  • ‘The UN repeats mistakes of the past in Madaya’, The National, 25 January 2016.
  • ‘Toward a more responsible alternative in Syria’, The Nation, 14 January 2016.
  • ‘The anti-Imperialist’s Guide to Inaction in Syria’, The Drouth, Winter 2015-16.
  • ‘Syria and Surrealism’, Los Angeles Review of Books, 22 December 2015.
  • ‘What is to be done about Syria?’, Bella Caledonia, 26 November, 2015.
  • ‘Obama’s legacy is tarnished as Putin fills the vacuum in Syria’, The National, 10 October 2015.
  • ‘Divided Affections’, The Nation, 10 September 2015.
  • ‘The NYRB Is Rewriting Tony Judt’s Stance on Israel’, The Nation, 14 July 2015.
  • ‘The Act of Remote Killing’, In These Times, 9 July 2015.
  • ‘Who’s Lying about the Christian massacre in Syria?’, The Daily Beast, 27 May 2015.
  • ‘ISIS: Managers of Savagery’, In These Times, 6 March 2015.
  • ‘Courting Disaster’, The Nation, 9 December 2014.
  • ‘Black Holes and Media Missionaries’, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 1 December 2014.
  • ‘Medien und Krieg in Nahost: Die große Syrien-Schlamperei’, Die Tageszeitung (, 25 November 2014.
  • ‘The West’s Syria policy has been shaped by media missionaries’, The National, 27 September 2014.
  • ‘In Syria, the Enemy of America’s Enemy is Still a Lousy Friend’, Vice News, 16 July 2014.
  • ‘A Dangerous Method: Syria, Sy Hersh, and the Art of Mass-crime Revisionism’, Los Angeles Review of Books, 1 June, 2014.
  • ‘Searching for a “realistic” solution in Syria has inflamed the conflict’, The National, 17 May 2014.
  • ‘Tony Blair’s confidence tricks’, Al Jazeera America, 29 April 2014.
  • ‘The use of force as a political weapon – from Mandela to Syria’, The National, 9 January 2014.
  • ‘Prediction: 2014 will be a year of surprises for many countries’, The National, 25 December 2013.
  • ‘On Monsterphilia and Assad’, Guernica, 24 October 2013.
  • ‘The New Truthers: Americans Who Deny Syria Used Chemical Weapons’, The New Republic, 11 September 2013.
  • ‘British parliament over-learns the lessons of Iraq’, Al Jazeera America, 4 September 2013.
  • ‘How Pakistan can stop drone strikes’, The Atlantic, 3 July 2013.
  • ‘Obama won’t end the drone war, but Pakistan might’, Al Jazeera, 3 July 2013.
  • ‘Ambiguous drone policies cast doubt on Obama’s lofty pledges’, The National, 1 June 2013.
  • ‘Everybody has to buy bread’, LRB Blog, 14 May 2013.
  • ‘True costs of Iraq War whitewashed by fuzzy maths’, The National, 5 April 2013.
  • ‘A parade of characters and causes led the US to war in Iraq’, The National, 23 March 2013.
  • ‘Archaeology of Revolutionary Knowledge’, Guernica, 30 January 2013.
  • ‘Hagel, the Lobby, and the Limits of Power’, Al Jazeera, 28 December 2012.
  • ‘Hawking Women’s Rights’, Tanqeed, 2 November 2012.
  • ‘The Archbishop, Oedipus, and the Golden Ass’, Al Jazeera, 29 September 2012.
  • ‘Romney’s indiscreet advisor’, Al Jazeera, 28 October 2011.
  • ‘Fighting back against the CIA drone war’, Al Jazeera, 30 July 2011.
  • ‘Gunboats and Gurkhas in the American Imperium’, Al Jazeera, 14 July 2011.
  • ‘The virtue-less war of the Nintendo bomber’, Al Jazeera, 28 June 2011.
  • ‘Between a rock and a hard country’, IPS News, 20 June 2011.
  • The magical realism of body counts,’ Al Jazeera, 13 June 2011.
  • ‘Insurgent Pakistan’, Political Insight, April 2010
  • ‘Pakistan Creates its Own Enemy’, Le Monde Diplomatique, November 2009 (translations appeared in all foreign language editions in the December 2009 issue).
  • ‘Why Paksitanis see US as a bigger threat’, Asia Times, 3 November 2009; Inter Press Service, 30 October 2009
  • ‘Peshawar: A Journey Home’, Le Monde Diplomatique, 14 October 2009
  • ‘The End of Israel’s Impunity?‘, Variant 34, Spring 2009
  • ‘Another Chorister for Israel (The BBC: Eyeless in Gaza)’, Adbusters, January 2009
  • Fortress Britain’, Variant, Number 32, Summer 2008

Book Reviews

Film reviews

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