Idrees Ahmad Profile picture
Contributing Editor—@lareviewofbooks; Author—The Post-truth War (forthcoming) Bylines—@guardian @nybooks @foreignpolicy @washingtonpost @TheTLS @theatlantic
4 Aug
This is horrific. #Beirut is not catching a break. The economic meltdown, the pandemic, and now this.
The blast radius
The explosives had apparently been confiscated and stored there since 2013
Read 16 tweets
15 Jun
If you enjoyed @SpikeLeeJoint's superb new @netflix film "Da 5 Bloods" based in Vietnam, then I'd recommend a book by one of the greatest living authors about the Vietnamese experience of the war. Read Bao Ninh's coruscating, heartbreaking, humane book "The Sorrow of War".
Last year I had a long conversation with Bao Ninh at his home in Hanoi. One thing he said really struck me. He said that he stopped going on book tours because for the most part he found the experience alienating. But the only people he felt some affinity with were US vets.
He feels that while the experience of war was shared, there remains a big gulf in understanding. American conversations about Vietnam have remained insular; while the Vietnamese experience remains silenced by the language barrier.
Read 9 tweets
5 Mar
If you want to understand just how useless and compromised the UN under @antonioguterres is, they’ve just appointed Marianne Gasser as the special envoy @GeirOPedersen’s chief in Damascus.
And if you want to understand just how impartial she is, here she is on December 2, 2016, celebrating the fall of Aleppo with Assad loyalists. Yes, she’s celebrating the success of the siege & bombing that @UNCoISyria called a “war crime”.

cc: @icrc @ICRC_sy
Gets worse: here's a piece she wrote for @dwnews in which she describes Syria like a natural disaster without a perpetrator & uses the pain of the people in Madaya & Aleppo to ask for reconstruction money for the regime that starved, killed, uprooted them…
Read 3 tweets
26 Feb
@SenSanders Dear @SenSanders: thank you for raising this issue and emphasising its urgency. But the regime hasn't honoured any previous ceasefire, using them only as temporising measures, and the UN has little capacity to enforce them because of Russian obstruction.
@mattduss @RoKhanna
@SenSanders @mattduss @RoKhanna The current Russian/regime campaign is in breach of an existing ceasefire agreement. What is required is enforcement & deterrence. US reluctance to get directly involved is understandable. But Turkey is already in the fight, the US can equip it against Russian airpower & missiles
@SenSanders @mattduss @RoKhanna This is an opportunity: the US could regain leverage over Turkey, wean it away from Russia, and use it as an enforcer of a ceasefire. It begins with giving it the Patriot system it needs to neutralise the Russian military advantage.
Read 6 tweets
30 Jan
Dear @BernieSanders: If you are fine with despicable conspiracy theorists as your surrogates, then we aren't fine with you. You don't fight a post-truth presidency with a post-truth campaign. Genocide-denying filth like @kthalps should have no place in any campaign.
Jesus! Look at the red-brown phalanx forming around Bernie. Includes Gabbard fans, people who voted for Jill Stein, and that idiot who went to Moscow recently to find people to praise Soviet Communism.
In fairness to Bernie, Halper may not formally be a surrogate. But she is part of the milieu that has come to represent his campaign and is quite close with communications team. Here she is on the campaign press secretary's podcast.…
Read 7 tweets
19 Nov 19
Chomsky joins 9/11 truthers & a convicted pedophile in an open letter to @OPCW, casting doubt on Assad's chemical attack on Douma. He has evidently learned nothing from his previous attempts at mass crime revisionism in Cambodia, Bosnia & Khan Sheikhoun…
@OPCW In spite of his apologia for mass murderers and his penchant for mass crime revisionism, this incorrigible scoundrel continues to be invited on @democracynow. As if Syrian, Bosnian, or Cambodian lives don't matter.…
Read 2 tweets
8 Sep 19
A bunch of Americans are on a Syrian regime-sponsored propaganda tour of Damascus. They include the usual suspects—Max Blumenthal, Rania Khalek, Anya Parampil, Ajamu Baraka. The photos are posted by a woman named Yasemin. Can someone help identify the rest?
These people are literally trampling over graves. Look at this photo that Rania Khalek has posted, inviting people to admire the view. Saydnaya of course is the site of Assad's most notorious prison where at least 13,000 civilians were executed during the uprising.
If you want to understand why this is so hideous, read this @amnesty report on Saydnaya.…
Read 14 tweets
24 Aug 19
A brief thread on war and distraction:

Today I was on @BBCRadioScot to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Idlib. It's a brief segment on @BBCWeekendGMS that starts at 1:38:00. I gave a bit of context and explained the scale of the catastrophe.…
@BBCRadioScot @BBCWeekendGMS The segment was retweeted among others by my department @stirjournalism. What happened next is a useful case study in how the Kremlin's troll network manufactures controversy, deflects attention, and annihilates the truth.
@BBCRadioScot @BBCWeekendGMS @stirjournalism Shortly after the tweet went out, a small but prolific troll network was activated. Some of the figures involved are familiar. They include a German fascist working for Sputnik news, and an American blogger who produces propaganda content for Russia Today.
Read 13 tweets
4 Jun 19
Forget Game of Thrones. Watch Chernobyl. The writer and director have done something extraordinary. They have (I believe) taken Svetlana Alexievich's oral history and turned it into the most compelling television since The Wire. It is aesthetic and narrative perfection.
This is the most economic and effective use of creative license. The only invented bits are for exposition, to drive the story along. The rest remains faithful to historical facts. The presence of a diffuse, lethal, invisible force is perfectly evoked.
Read 2 tweets
23 May 19
On genocide-denial, red-brownism, and British academia—a thread.

The man on this far-right, anti-refugee youtube channel spinning an insane, victims-blaming conspiracy theory about a chemical attack in Syria is a professor at @UoBrisSPS @BristolUni
The man is using his credentials as a Bristol University academic to absolve Assad of the horrific chemical attack on Douma. Assad's responsibility for the attack is well-established, and confirmed last March by a comprehensive @OPCW investigation.…
Long before the OPCW reached its considered judgment, the facts of the attack were already established by journalists, witnesses, researchers, and open-source investigators.
Read 19 tweets
14 Apr 19
This is depressing. @BernieSanders is being advised by Rob Malley, the guy who initiated behind-the-scenes contacts with Assad, and used his functionary Nir Rosen to pseudonymously promote the Assad-approved policy of local surrenders…
Euphemistically called "local ceasefires", this policy was personally approved by Assad. Perhaps conscious of its morally questionable premise, Malley encouraged Rosen to promote it pseudonymously. As I had predicted at the time, the policy proved catastrophic for Syrians.
Malley is now casting himself as a dissident in the Obama administration. But his dispute with the administration is not that it abandoned Syrians and failed to enforce its own red lines; in an interview with the conspiracy site "Real News", Malley claimed Obama was too gung ho.
Read 13 tweets
15 Mar 19
I try not to give oxygen to far-right provocateurs—the milos, katie hopkins, faith goldys—you know, the entire, interchangeable units of the hate industry—but when someone's response to a mass killing start with "LOL" and "HAHA", the inhumanity forces your attention #christchurch
Because people who trade in this kind of ugliness now have a thriving market for hawking their wares. This vulture was actually a speaker at CPAC, the same forum where the current president of the US spoke.
And note the killer's messaging: it is familiar tropes: demographic threat, emasculation, Eurabia, Islamizaiton, creeping sharia, etc. Robert Spencer & Pamela Geller's dark fantasies. Douglas Murray's laundered prejudice (given a platform on @BBCNews). All given lethal intent.
Read 7 tweets
12 Mar 19
Glenn Greenwald's friend Tucker believes Iraqis Are ‘Semiliterate Primitive Monkeys’… via @thedailybeast
Recently @theintercept had to lay off fact-checkers & researchers. But if just 5,000 of you could donate $103 each, you'll cover one year of @GGreenwald's salary so he can continue blogging fearlessly about Neera Tanden from his Rio de Janeiro mansion
Look at how happy he is to go on Fox News and trash democrats and progressives. Apparently Putin is not the problem; @maddow and @chrislhayes are. (Remember: this guy is paid a fortune by billionaire @pierre & is the most frequent guest on @democracynow)

Read 9 tweets
23 Feb 19
Code Pink made a list of "thought leaders" for #Venezuela that includes at least four Russian government employees but not a single Venezuelan or Latinx person. Some people included on the list are currently in Caracas as guests of the Maduro regime.
This is one of the people included on the list. She thinks all is fine in Venezuela except for the absence of "luxuries" (actual words) such as "toilet paper" and "bottle water".
The list also includes several Kremlin-linked rent-a-shills…
Read 6 tweets
9 Feb 19
John Berger described mystification as "the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident". The purpose of journalism is to clarify, not mystify. This is not journalism. I am not surprised that @theintercept published it; I'm surprised @ShorensteinCtr supported it.
@theintercept @ShorensteinCtr Reporters who visits regime controlled areas on regime visas need to be treated as suspect until they establish their credibility. This reporter fails: he uncritically recycles white helmets conspiracy theories; relies on the testimony of people interviewed with minders present.
@theintercept @ShorensteinCtr And no reporter who is deemed critical is granted a second visa by the regime. Reporters who are considered unsympathetic are denied even one. An individual who gets repeat visas to Damascus must be considered propagandist until proven journalist.
Read 7 tweets
25 Jan 19
Noam Chomsky has joined Tim Anderson, a leading apologist for Assad and Kim Jong Un, to write this contemptible piece of apologia for the Maduro regime. The people who have signed this shameful letter must be held forever in contempt. #Venezuela…
The letter conveniently blames everything on the US. No mention of the regime's repression, corruption & authoritarianism. No mention of the mass uprising. Instead we get "both sides" and the usual platitudes about "negotiation". No mention of Maduro's obstructionism.
But when it comes to making excuses for authoritarian regimes, Chomsky has form. Not only has he not apologised for his genocide denial on Cambodia, he reiterated his denialism in a recent exchange with @charliearchy
Read 6 tweets
12 Oct 18
There is a seemingly coordinated campaign of defamation and harassment targeting @bellingcat at the moment. And as a practitioner and scholar of journalism, I find this very troubling because Bellingcat is an indispensable institution that has raised the bar for all journalists.
What sets Bellingcat apart from traditional journalism is not just the novelty of their tools but also the transparency of their investigations. They don't just conduct investigations and ask you to accept the outcomes; they lead you through the entire investigation process.
This is the closest we have come to the scientific method in journalism. Bellingcat is transparent about its process, which makes their process and findings replicable. But its easy for anyone trying to emulate only because Bellingcat has already done the hard work.
Read 7 tweets
27 Jul 18
This is extraordinary. @theintercept founder @ggreenwald, who in the past has called people who delete their tweets "cowards", appears to have deleted over 27,000 on July 22nd. This seems to be a very deliberate & systematic purge. Some I've checked relate to Russia & Syria
Check out this one, for example. The tweet is now gone.
This tweet is also gone
Read 7 tweets
15 Jul 18
This is insane. Ebay founder @pierre has been paying Glenn Greenwald up to $518,000 per annum to blog about a mythical "deep state" that has been colluding with Hillary Clinton to undermine America's "elected president" Trump for resisting WW3 and "regime change" in Syria.
Hey @democracynow: how about you ask Greenwald about his Brazilian mansion, his insane salary, and the gender pay gap at @theintercept next time you host him for his rambling conspiracy-theorising?
Note that according to First Look's IRS filings, it appears Greenwald is receiving 3 times the salary his Intercept co-founder Laura Poitras is. Which is outrageous, considering that Greenwald's career was made by the Snowden story, which was Poitras's scoop, not Greenwald's.
Read 13 tweets
13 Apr 18
If you participate in any @STWuk event on Syria, you are an enemy of the Syrian people.Here are images from its protest today. The protestors are carrying Russian and regime flags. Between them, the two are responsible for nearly 94% of all civilian deaths in Syria.
So this wasn't an "antiwar" march. It is a pro-war rally that wants Assad & Putin to continue their rampage with impunity. It's aim is not to protect Syrian people (whose gassing didn't elicit a single peep of protest) but to preserve Assad's regime. It's really #HandsOffAssad
Regime/Russia have deliberately targeted civilian neighbourhoods, refugee camps, schools, hospitals & bomb shelters. The regime has shot, gassed, tortured, incarcerated & disappeared civilians. The regime has expelled over half the country's population. @STWuk response? Silence.
Read 8 tweets