Dossier: Syria

US President Barack Obama speaking in the White House about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq, 7 August 2014 (photo: Reuters)

The Middle East policies of Europe and the US

Mistakes must not be repeated

For years, the West's foreign policy approach to the Middle East has been short sighted and counterproductive. A shrewd blend of engagement and restraint in the region is now required. However, where there is a threat of genocide at the hands of terrorists or regimes, civilians must be protected using all available means, writes Kristin HelbergMore

A Syrian family sitting outside a home for asylum seekers run by the Central Authority for Foreign Residents in the German state of Brandenburg (photo: dpa/picture-alliance)

Book review: Stefan Buchen on Syrian "escape helpers"

Germany's new public enemies?

Germany is proud of its culture of democracy and the rule of law. But how proud should it be of the way it treats those who help Syrian refugees threatened by starvation and mass murder at home to enter the country? In 2013 and 2014, several German-based Syrians have been tried in court for helping their compatriots to flee to Europe. Stefan Buchen has written a book about the matter. By Martina SabraMore

Salafists handing out copies of the Koran in a German city (photo: dapd)

Interview with intelligence operative Benno Köpfer

"You're allowed to be a Salafist in Germany"

More than 300 people from Germany have gone to Syria to join the jihad. In this interview with Jannis Hagmann, Benno Köpfer of the German domestic intelligence service explains what radicalises young people, why not all Salafists agree with the ISIS caliphate and why he drinks the occasional tea with some of themMore

Portrait of the last Ottoman Caliph, Abdulmecid II. Photo: Library of Congress

History of the Caliphate

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We are all caliphs!

The history of the Caliphate is, with a few exceptions, an unstable and unhappy one. In this essay, Stefan Weidner explains why the self-appointed caliphs of today, like the ISIS leader in Iraq, have little in common with the caliphs of oldMore

General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Quds Brigade. Photo: Faresnews

Portrait: Qassem Soleimani

The man who pulls the strings

Iran is battling Saudi Arabia for regional supremacy in the Middle East, and is steadily expanding its sphere of influence in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Behind the scenes, Qassem Soleimani is a key figure who has had more influence on Iran's foreign policy over the last twenty years than almost anyone else. Martina Sabra reportsMore

ISIS using a bulldozer to destroy Sunni sites in Tal Afar. Photo: justpaste.it/atrah

ISIS' cultural vandalism

A trail of destruction

Cultural barbarism prevails in the territories declared a "caliphate" by the radical Islamic group ISIS. The sad irony of this is that its members are even destroying monuments to the companions of Muhammad, whom they themselves supposedly revere. Joseph Croitoru reportsMore

The self-styled "caliph", Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Photo: YouTube

ISIS leader in Iraq

The new face of jihad?

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been active in Syria for two years now. It currently has around 5,000 fighters there – and the numbers are growing. Aron Lund, who has written studies on Syria's fighter landscape for the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, explains the terrorist organisation's strategies to Mona SarkisMore

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian conflict and the advance of ISIS

Assad and the myth of the lesser evil

Assad has used chemical weapons and laid waste to entire neighbourhoods and regions with barrel bombs. However, in the West, fears of what ISIS Islamists could achieve loom so large that Syria's dictator continues to be seen as a smaller part of the problem. By Bente SchellerMore

The Lebanese journalist and political scientist Abdel Mottaleb El-Husseini. Photo: private

Interview with the political scientist Abdel Mottaleb El-Husseini

Lebanon: "A mixture of vacuum and volcano"

A million Syrian refugees, a catastrophic economy and increasing domestic hostility towards Hezbollah: the war in Syria is pushing neighbouring Lebanon to the limit. Mona Sarkis spoke to the Lebanese journalist Abdel Mottaleb el-Husseini about the current political situation in his countryMore

Karama co-ordination meeting in Cairo on 7 October 2011 on the occasion of the establishment of the Libyan Women's Platform for Peace (photo: Dominique Margot)

Women's movements in the transitioning Arab states

For dignity, peace and equal rights

Despite all the setbacks suffered by many women's rights groups in the transitioning Arab states, regional co-operation has improved considerably over the past few years. Juliane Metzker takes stockMore

President Bashar al-Assad visiting the Christian town of Maalula (photo: dpa)

Syrian Christians and the Assad regime

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"Assad is only protecting himself"

Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad likes to present himself as a champion of his nation's religious minorities, in particular the Christians. But increasing numbers of Syrian Christians in exile are resisting this narrative. By Martina SabraMore

The Syrian-born writer Rafik Schami (photo: dpa/picture-alliance)

Interview with Rafik Schami

Defending the Assad kingdom

According to renowned Syrian-born writer Rafik Schami, Assad's survival concept is quite straightforward: to keep his clan in power at any price. He is being aided in this endeavour by the West's indecisiveness towards his regime. Interview conducted by Eren GüvercinMore

Portraits of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad (photo: DW)

Syria and the Ba'ath regime

Assad and the post-eternity era

Assad and no other. Assad is no one. He is a nebulous being soaked in blood and trampling on corpses, a man who claims to be president of a republic that no longer exists, writes Elias Khoury in his essayMore

Diala Brisly (photo: Diala Brisly)

Interview with the Syrian artist Diala Brisly

Art is a luxury in Syria

Civil war has ravaged Syria and many of its ancient cultural treasures. Syrian artist Diala Brisly, who left Syria about a year ago and now lives and works in Istanbul, says that although very few artists are still working in Syria, the country's art scene is flourishing abroad. Interview by Susanne DicklMore

Pro-Assad election posters in Damascus (photo: Reuters)

Presidential election in Syria

No Holds Barred

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad intends to have himself confirmed in office for a further seven years in early June. The regime's propaganda machinery is running flat out in advance of the election. Since the beginning of the revolution, the Syrian powers-that-be have been working hard to turn both domestic and international public opinion in their favour. By Martina SabraMore

Rosa Yassin Hassan (photo: DW)

Book review: Rosa Yassin Hassan's "Guardians of the Air"

Nine months of suffering, hope and fear

While Assad's regime seems more firmly ensconced than ever, and Syria seems to have descended into an apparently endless and brutal civil war, the novel "Guardians of the Air" by Rosa Yassin Hassan, a Damascus-based writer, provides an insight into the difficult lives of those directly affected by violence and displacement. By Volker KaminskiMore

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