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2 January 2016updated 20 Aug 2021 9:19am

Best of the NS in 2015: Syria and Isis

Our best pieces from the past year. In this selection, our favourite writing about Syria and Isis.

By New Statesman

The men saving Syria’s treasures from Isis

By Jeremy Bowen

A remarkable group of archaeologists are battling to save the country’s ancient artifacts.

Islamist terror, security and the Hobbesian question of order

By John Gray

Liberals often worry about the need to protect citizens from the state. Yet in the age of global terror, the risk posed by failed states is by far the greater danger.

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Burning the earth: Isis and the threat to Britain

By Shiraz Maher

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Nearly 14 years on from the start of the so-called war on terror, the global jihad movement is deepening and expanding.

We must not deny the religious roots of Islamic State

By Tom Holland

Its jihadis call for a global caliphate. So why deny religion drives Isis?

The Syrian tragedy and the crumbling of world order

By John Bew

Industrial-scale murder, state collapse and huge displacement on Europe’s borders have destroyed old certainties.

The Islamist zero hour

By John Jenkins

The unique threat posed by Isis has been analysed in depth. But how should the West respond in practice?

The great survivor

By Jeremy Bowen

War has been raging in Syria for nearly four years and much of the country is in ruins, yet Bashar al-Assad is still in power. And the view from the presidential palace is brightening.

Who was the boy on the beach?

By Anoosh Chakelian

Photos of a drowned Syrian child are dominating the front pages. Who was he, and how did he end up washed up on the Turkish coast?

The Syrian War and the return of great power politics

By John Bew

If the line between peace and war is being blurred, so is that between fact and fiction.

No one knows what they’re doing in Syria – but standing back is not an option

By John Jenkins

Ultimately this is a question about the world in which we want to live.

Yvette Cooper’s speech in favour of strikes against Isil in Syria

By Yvette Cooper

There are no easy answers here, but I would say in the interests of cohesion in our politics and our country the way we conduct this debate is immensely important.

Britain is right to target Isis in Syria, but we must plan for a future after Assad

By Shiraz Maher

Islamic State has gripped the imagination of western politics, but many Syrian rebels are more concerned by Assad. If we are to intervene in Syria, we must make it clear he has no long-term role to play.

Meeting the foreign fighters: how does Islamic State recruit thousands of Westerners?

By Jakob Sheikh

To understand why IS draws thousands of would-be fighters from the West, we need to view the militant group through the lens of the fighters themselves.

The spread of Wahhabism, and the West’s responsibility to the world

By Karen Armstrong

In 2013, the European Union declared Wahhabism the main source of global terrorism. But it’s not just a “Middle East problem”; it is our problem, too.

Meet the remarkable British woman imprisoned for fighting against Isis

By Michael Chessum

The treatment of Silhan Özçelik shows how confused British policy towards the Middle East has become.

Why Tehran hates Isis: how religious rifts are fueling conflict

By Michael Axworthy

Above all, the Islamic republic wants stability – and to fight back against a group that despises Shia Muslims.

Why Isis seeks a battle with Western nations – and why it can’t be ignored

By Shiraz Maher

Islamic State believes it must eventually confront and then defeat the West. To get there, it seeks to polarise Muslim and non-Muslim communities alike.

Putin vs Isis: Russia’s great game in Syria

By Mark Leonard

Vladimir Putin’s military intervention is less about defeating Isis than about establishing himself as the ultimate counter-revolutionary leader.

The utopia of Isis: inside Islamic State’s propaganda war

By Helen Lewis

Islamic State’s cheerful media images seem incongruous to us in the West. But the group are committed to showing an “idealistic caliphate”.

When it comes to responding to Islamic State, there is no middle ground

By John Bew

If Britain has a declared interest in curtailing Islamic State and stabilising Syria, it is neither honourable nor viable to let others intervene on our behalf.

Isis is losing in Iraq

By John Simpson

The Iraqi city of Mosul was taken over by Islamic State last summer – but now the government forces are pushing back.