In 2017, zenith’s editor-in-chief, Daniel Gerlach, met Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, “the Engineer” behind a prominent Iraqi paramilitary organisation, who was killed on 3 January by a US drone strike in Baghdad. Who was he and what drove him?
Gilles Kepel’s latest book on ‘getting out of the chaos’ in the Middle East can be read as an account of the interplay of authoritarian rule and Islamist mobilisation. Or as a critical appraisal of Kepel’s own intellectual journey.
It’s time to look beyond the “original sins” of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and European interventions in the Middle East. Europeans should calmly make plans for the region’s future, but explain their intentions clearly.
The extremist Islamic State group has exploited its takeover and destruction of the Palmyra military prison for its propaganda purposes. To understand why this has been so effective, one needs to look back at what happened there in the summer of 1980.