An Apology to the Real Cyrus Mahboubian


As our readers know, we ran two essays on the conflicts in Syria and Iraq by a Westerner with extensive experience in the Middle East. The author asked for permission to write under a pseudonym and, after careful consideration, I decided to allow it due to what were, in my view, credible and substantial risks to the author’s professional employment and safety. The name he chose was Cyrus Mahboubian.

As it turns out, there is a real Cyrus Mahboubian. He is a young Briton with a promising career as an artist. The pseudonymous author and I were surprised to learn of his existence. The real Cyrus Mahboubian has nothing to do with these essays whatsoever. He was understandably perplexed and disturbed as some of the more negative reactions to the essays were directed at him and his Twitter account. I take responsibility for not properly vetting the pseudonym (lesson learned).

In an effort to insulate the real Cyrus Mahboubian from any further blowback, the author and I have agreed to change the pseudonym to Cyrus Malik.

Please help me turn this into a positive by checking out his photographs. You can see his work in person in galleries from the United States to Europe to the Middle East. And if the real Cyrus Mahboubian is up for it, I’d like to buy him a drink next time I’m in London.


Ryan Evans is the editor-in-chief of War on the Rocks.