Tuesday 10 October 2023

operation nickel grass (11. 050)

To replace materiel spent in the first four days of the conflict, the Soviet Union began an airlift on this day in 1973 of military equipment to Syria and Egypt that led a coalition of Arab states against Israel (to gain purchase on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal and regain the Sinai) in the Yom Kippur/Ramandan War. The US followed suit with a massive resupply of Israel two days later, and having discovered that Prime Minister Golda Meir had authorised the assembly of thirteen nuclear warheads aimed at targets in Egypt and Syria, a move that was made easily detectable so as to conduce American aid and avoid further escalation, wanting officially to minimise the appearance of involvement. Upon receiving intelligence of this development, US president Richard Nixon ordered the deployment of the Air Force to transport all munitions possible to Israel via the Azores and along a narrow airspace over the Mediterranean to comply with European countries that did not wish to be party to a proxy war between the US and the Soviet Union. Although resupply missions on both sides slowed significantly after the 24 October cease-fire resolution, OPEC leaders enacted an oil embargo against America and her allies.


one year ago: AI movie posters plus conjuring Swedish nonsense words

two years ago:  assorted links to revisit plus Upstairs, Downstairs (1971)

three years ago: revolutionary China, happy birthday to the Candy Bomber, the moon Triton, the role of sharks in vaccines plus coin-op convenience

four years ago: Dunbar Number, guerilla advertising plus more on noise pollution

five years ago: more on Osaka’s Expo’70 plus a shopping cart that gauges one’s mood


Friday 7 October 2022

sergius & bacchus (10. 202)

Among the most popular paired saints with a cult going back to the fifth century, the Syrian Roman soldiers were, according to their hagiography, favoured officers in the army of Galerius (successor to Emperor Diocletian, toning down his persecutions but still strongly opposed to Christianity) until their secret adherence was exposed, they are venerated on this day in the Western Church to mark their martyrdom and the hands of their superiors, tortured (Bacchus went first and his ghost returned to encourage his compatriot to be steadfast and not disavow his faith) and beheaded. Tradition emphasises their closeness and inseparability, which has caused the couple to be embraced by the Catholic gay community—most accepting that their relationship had a romantic element to it and points to the rite, suggestive of a form of same-sex union, called แผ€ฮดฮตฮปฯ†ฮฟฯ€ฮฟฮฏฮทฯƒฮนฯ‚ (adelphopoiesis, fraternisation or brother-making). Their patronage includes Arabs, Syria and army soldiers and their home church built in Constantinople—now known as the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque—is the among the city’s most splendid examples of Byzantine architecture, second only to its namesake.

Saturday 17 October 2020


On this day in 1973, OPEC (then OAPEC, the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries despite Venezuela being a charter member) ministers came to a consensus to use their cartel powers to influence the West’s materiel and monetary support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War when the country made incursions into Syria and Egypt, advancing towards the economic and strategically important Suez Canal (see previously) and retaliated against Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK and the US by a crippling quadrupling of prices, a shock to markets that precipitated the 1973 Oil Crisis.

Geopolitical antecedents factoring into this stand-off included the decrease in American petroleum production post-war and the rise of OPEC, the decision to float world currencies—unpegging them from the price of gold—with the US unilateral withdrawal from the Bretton Woods Accord in 1971 and subsequent recession, plus the never neglected opportunity for proxy warfare between the US and its allies and the Soviet Union on a new frontier. Because the embargo, which lasted until March 1974, failed to change the West’s stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict, history judges it as ineffective despite the long-term effect it had on international economics and gradually over the ensuing decades pushed the US towards more domestic exploration of fossil fuels and towards energy independence and globally pressured reforms for financial institutions to control for inflation.  Intermediate effects included fuel rationing, a slow-down in factory-orders, a shift in preference for smaller automobiles and a pivot towards China for manufacturing. 

Tuesday 26 November 2019

mandatory syria

Negotiated and ratified in secret in May of the same year, the Manchester Guardian published an invective report detailing the memorandum of understanding between Britain and French ambassadors Mark Sykes and Franรงois Georges-Picot (see previously here and here) on this day in 1917 regarding the partition of a soon to be defeated Ottoman Empire days after it was presented to the Bolshevik government of Russia, whom first exposed it to the public, the arrangement contingent on its assent. With parallels to the present and storied abandonment of the Kurds, the terms of the treaty amplified and circulated to the British readership, the government was embarrassment by its betrayal to the Arabs, whom had been promised an independent homeland in the Levant (which was not on the map) in exchange for their revolt that destabilised the Empire and precipitated a victory for the Triple Entente. The consequences of this line in the sand are still informing and shaping geopolitics more than a century later.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

i, in my great and unmatched wisdom

With no advance warning to Kurdish fighters or coalition partners, Trump announced the abrupt withdrawal of US troops from the Turkish-Syria border region.
This abandonment after five years of cooperation with Kurdish forces, whom have borne the brunt of defeating the Islamic State during Syria’s civil war though characterised as terrorists by Turkey, has prompted the Pentagon to deliver a stern warning to Turkey not to invade. Though Trump in principle agrees with the assessment that there should be no military incursion that would further destabilise Syria, pledging to economically destroy Turkey should it do so, removing soldiers from the cross-fire has essentially given ErdoฤŸan a pass to carry on as he sees fit.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

we have defeated isis in syria, my only reason for being there during the trump presidency

To the consternation and concern of US military top brass that have been pushing for a continued troop presence for stabilisation, rebuilding and not to afford the Cosplay Caliphate another chance to regain a purchase, Trump announced his intentions to redeploy all soldiers from Syria, some two thousand individuals.
While the majority of the territory once held by the terrorist group in a sliver of what it once was, the situation is still precarious and the likelihood of a revanchment seems in the realm of possibilities. Aside from the suffering of the Syrian population that might be forestalled, geopolitically Trump’s announcement—which he perhaps offers as a human-shield to deflect the ratcheting up of the Special Counsel Investigation into the campaign and administration’s ties to Russia and easing sanctions in exchange for real estate development opportunities but only serves to reaffirm the relationship—is a huge concession to Putin and Russian interests in the country and ensures that the rebellion will be quashed. Also by withdrawing from their base near the Turkish border, the US is abandoning its at least nominal ally in the Kurds and inadvertently (given the diplomatic tensions and trade disputes) by affording the ErdoฤŸan government the chance to further marginalise this group.

Monday 1 October 2018


A Syrian artist and activist, known only as Saint Hoax, debuts his latest performance piece called MonuMental—an inflatable tank with the bust of Donald Trump crowning the turret—is menacingly marauding through the streets of Beirut. Part of an overarching theme exploring how celebrity is a crisis of character, Saint Hoax hopes to reveal the underlying pathos that contrasts public faรงades. Learn more at Hyperallergic at the link above.