The NTC is officially screwed

The death of Abd al-Fattah Yunus, one of the most senior military commanders of the Libyan rebel forces and the most prominent member of Gaddafi’s government to defect from the Jamahiriya, reflects many aspects of the situation in Libya. Mostly, though, it means that the National Transitional Council – and the rebellion at large – is fucked. That’s a technical term. Internationally, this could not have come at a worse time for the West. Two days ago, William Hague declared that the UK recognised the NTC as the official representative of Libya, praising their “competence”, a step that the British … Continue reading The NTC is officially screwed

An Ode to the London Library

Contrary to expectations (or, perhaps, your worst nightmares), this post will not be composed in verse.  I just wish to record for posterity quite how infatuated I am with the London Library. The London Library is the world’s largest lending library, but you’d never guess from the exterior.  It hides a remote corner of St. James’ Park behind the flag draped off the Cypriot High Commission.  The Library was founded in 1841 by members of the British Library who were unhappy with some of its policies.  For the modest annual price of about the GDP per capita of Ethiopia, you … Continue reading An Ode to the London Library

Over by Christmas (of the year 2027)

Ever since the beginning of the uprising in Syria, I have been in two minds about the whole situation.  Obviously, it would be entirely hypocritical of me to claim (as Khomenei has done) that while unrest in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, and Bahrain was the natural result of decades of misrule, the only way protests would begin in Syria could be through foreign intervention and bribery.  There is no denying that a large segment of the Syrian population want something different, and no reason to suspect that events in Syria are separate from the revolts in the rest of the … Continue reading Over by Christmas (of the year 2027)

Will I Ever Publish Another Post?

Do Western journalists understand the principle of cause and effect? I ask only because in the last few days I have seen a number of articles with the headline “Is the Arab Spring in danger?”, or thereabouts, generally about the upsurge of activity which took place this week.  Now, as I understand it, the main worry is that the revolutions will be betrayed by those who have been brought to power (such as Tantawi in Egypt).  Surely, then, the revolution was under far more threat before this week, when the protesters were not out in force, than it is now? … Continue reading Will I Ever Publish Another Post?

A War of Extremes

In a somewhat unexpected development, the US and French embassies in Damascus were stormed yesterday by Assad loyalists.  The French embassy was not breached, but the American embassy was, and protesters hung a Syrian flag from the balcony, as the picture clearly shows.  The protesters are thought to be avenging the French and US governments’ support of the rebels in Hama, as evidenced by the trips of those countries’ ambassadors to the besieged city late last week.  This sort of mass action could not, given the state of security in Syria – and particularly in Damascus – have occurred without … Continue reading A War of Extremes

The Arab Spring has not sprung yet

It appears that events this year are moving in spurts and starts. For the last few weeks – in fact, ever since the attack on Saleh at the start of June – the situation in each of the most active Middle Eastern countries seems to have stagnated. This week has seen that deadlock broken. In Libya, the rebels are finally gaining ground at a convincing rate, having reached somewhere east of Zlitan and therefore encircling Misrata, finally ending the siege. And in Yemen, as I covered yesterday, Saleh broke his silence, throwing the political situation there into fresh turmoil. But … Continue reading The Arab Spring has not sprung yet

Saleh’s Return?

After weeks of speculation about his political future, all of it negative (most notably the Guardian’s pronouncement that he was politically moribund) Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh has given a speech on Yemeni State television, swaddled in cloth with his hands bound and his arms rigid at his sides. Despite his fragile state, both medically and politically, this speech was, to put it bluntly, more of the same. He persisted in calling his opponents “terrorists”, apparently not realising that the United States – the ally generally most receptive to such claims – has ditched him. The pleas for calm and … Continue reading Saleh’s Return?