James Denselow

James Denselow is a writer on Middle East politics and security issues.


James writes regularly for The Guardian and has written articles for Middle East International, The Huffington Post The New Statesman, Syria Today, The World Today, The Daily Telegraph and The Yorkshire Post. He has been cited in many international publications including The Boston Globe, Voice of America, The Sunday Telegraph, Reuters and AFP

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James writes book, television and film reviews for International Affairs, Middle East International, The Arab and The Guardian

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See James's published work

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In The Media

James in the media - Watch James discussing Middle East issues on a variety of media platforms including the BBC, Al Jazeera and Russia Today
Syria’s Deadly Bureaucracy PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Denselow   
Friday, 30 August 2013 09:29

Majalla - The latest chemical attack, which allegedly killed hundreds in Damascus, will worsen the humanitarian disaster in Syria. Last week, the UN registered the one millionth Syrian child refugee. Earlier in the month, the UN also confirmed what many already suspected—that over 100,000 people have now died in the battle for Syria. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, responded with a phrase which could encapsulate the conflict, stating that “it is not enough to be appalled.”


As international intervention looms, the humanitarian crisis worsens and the boundaries of civilized behavior continue to crumble, it is important to understand that it is not just the Syrian regime’s tanks, aircraft, or possible use of chemical weapons, nor the opposition’s motley array, of weaponry that are killing people. Bureaucracy, both inside and outside the country, is increasingly acting to accentuate the fallout from the conflict, with a host of deadly consequences. It has become a weapon of war, manifested through paperwork, checkpoints and sieges, which are resulting in the denial of access to lifesaving medical care.

Guardian Letter on Russia PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Denselow   
Friday, 09 August 2013 09:06

Congratulations to Stephen Fry for speaking out on Russian human rights abuses in regards to their anti-gay laws (Report, 8 August). Considering the $35bn investment the Russians are putting into what for them is a very symbolic event, one wonders whether a larger international boycott could be formed around Moscow's intransigence over the conflict in Syria. As all other diplomatic avenues have failed, this could make Putin think twice about his continued refusal to allow the UN security council to speak in a united voice towards a conflict that has killed over 100,000 people. What is more, we now know that Saudi Arabia offered Russia $15bn worth of deals for them to move on Syria – so perhaps Riyadh could host the Winter Olympics instead.

Insight into the Middle East's Freedom Deficit PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Denselow   
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 08:00

Of Empires and Citizens: Pro-American Democracy or No Democracy at All?

Amaney Jamal, Princeton University Press, United Kingdom, 2012

(Huffington Post / International Affairs) The health of Arab democracy has been sorely tested after the initial hope and optimism that came at the start of the Arab Spring. The grinding, near apocalyptic, conflict in Syria means that images of protestors filling the streets of Homs in 2011 have been replaced by those of a city in virtual complete ruin. In Egypt the squares that filled with those demanding the ousting of a dictator now compete with each other over the legitimacy of the supposedly post-revolutionary era. Progress in Tunisia and Libya remains pockmarked by violence. In 'liberated' Iraq, July of this year saw the worst violence in over five years. Talking to AFP one Iraqi bemoaned recently how under Saddam "I was not allowed to talk; now I can talk but nobody will listen".

Against such a backdrop Amaney Jamal, an associate professor at Princeton University who has written extensively on democracy, looks to better explain what she terms the 'persistence of authoritarianism' across the region. The book reflects a huge academic effort, a "massive data collection effort in three countries" of Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait. The effort is reflected by the thorough presentation of evidence -- the work includes detailed foot and endnotes, chapter appendices complete with snippets of the author's methodology, questionnaires and further hypotheses.

Dozens Killed in Iraq Violence PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Denselow   
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 10:18

(VOA) CAIRO, EGYPT — More than a dozen car bombs exploded in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and other cities on Monday, killing over 50 people and wounding more than 200 others. The bombers appeared to have targeted mostly Shi'ite areas. This year has been one of the deadliest since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Ambulances ferried victims of a bomb blast in Baghdad's mostly Shi'ite district of Sadr City. Witnesses say a blast inside a minivan transporting Shi'ite workers killed more than half a dozen people.

A bystander gave his version of what happened. He said the force of the blast inside the vehicle killed and wounded people in the area and damaged surrounding shops.

Car-bomb blasts also rocked at least six other Baghdad neighborhoods. In addition, bloody explosions struck the towns of Mahmoudiya, Kut, Basra and Samawa.

A witness in Samawa said fire and rescue workers were slow to arrive at the scene of the blast. He said it took the fire department four hours to respond after the car bomb exploded, frightening people and setting fire to his and other cars.

Parliament Speaker Osama Nujeif, a Sunni, condemned the explosions, as did many other Sunni and Shi'ite political leaders. Baghdad's Alsharqiya TV reported that Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki dismissed his military intelligence chief after the blasts.

Security reportedly was strengthened in several Shi'ite regions of the country in the lead-up to a major Shi'ite festival. The deputy head of the Najaf Provincial Council, Louai Yassiri, explained what is being done. He said his council is trying to revamp its security practices, bringing government officials out of their offices and into the street to coordinate efforts and better protect the people.

James Denselow of the London-based Foreign Policy Centre said that security inside Iraq is deteriorating because of both local and regional issues.

From Mountain People to Partner? PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Denselow   
Monday, 17 June 2013 10:45

(Foreign Policy Centre) Speaking at a recent Chatham House event former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright was asked her predictions for the Middle East. Ignoring the continued flux of both the Arab Spring the bloody civil war in Syria Albright responded that the modern relationship between Turkey and the Kurds is evidence of how “things you think will never change – change”.

Against the backdrop of the current round of bloodletting that is wracking the region, the Kurdish success story continues to establish itself. In Turkey before the headlines became dominated by the street protests one of the biggest story’s of the year was the deal made in the decades old conflict between Ankara and the PKK. The negotiated agreement that saw hundreds of PKK fighters moving into the borderland of Iraqi Kurdistan followed a sustained improvement in relations between Turkey and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraqi Kurdistan. The landlocked KRG have steadily looked to connect their two greatest assets, energy supplies and stability, through to Turkey. Albright would never have predicted that Turkey, previously so opposed to Kurdish autonomy, would develop such close economic relations with the nearest thing to a state-like entity that the World’s largest stateless people have ever had.  As Iraq endures its most violent period in five years, with over 1,000 people killed in May according to the UN, those media that visit the north of the country run out of superlatives to describe the contrast. The standard headlines involves variant around the word ‘boom’ or ‘booming’.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 10:52
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