Dear Western Powers: Please Shut Up

This has certainly been one of the great weeks in the Middle East: so much is going on that it would be foolish to try to deal with all of it.  But foolish I am, and that is exactly what I am about to try to do.  I have spent all week reading countless articles and opinions about the current wave of goings-on, nearly all of them factually short-sighted, and I have quite frankly had enough.  Here, therefore, are some truths, most of them unpleasant, all of them uncomfortable for the West.  But that is, after all, what the West … Continue reading Dear Western Powers: Please Shut Up

It’s pronounced Na-bó-kov, not Ná-bo-kov

Before you all start howling at me (as if), I know that this blog is generally politically-themed, but whether you believe it or not I do sometimes read books between searching for material for my latest update.  In June, after graduating, I bought a whole raft of books from Blackwells in the mistaken belief that I would read them.  It’s now November and the pile has not shrunk appreciably.  Last week, though, I started what might be the crowning jewel of this haul, in terms of how much I have wanted to read it and for how long: Ada or … Continue reading It’s pronounced Na-bó-kov, not Ná-bo-kov

Not Quite A Revolution

The major Middle Eastern news this week has clearly been the Arab League’s almost-suspension of Syria for the crackdown on protestors, along with every Western media outlet in the land trumpeting that Jordan’s monarch (one of the earlier targets of the Arab Spring and still on my personal list of tyrants) had called for Bashar to step down.  This, so we are told, was the final international humiliation for a regime now isolated by so many former friends. In reality, this is nearly all bollocks.  King Abdullah did not quite call for Bashar to step down: he said that if … Continue reading Not Quite A Revolution

The Rest of the Birds Oppress and Loathe It

I’m well aware of the popularity that the infamous lesbian palm tree text has among my friends, and I thought it would take the opportunity to provide the world with another example.  This is taken from Shihāb al-Dīn al-Nuwayrī’s book Nihāyat al-arab fī funūn al-adab (The Final Goal of the Branches of Art) which, like so many other pre-modern Arabic texts, is concerned with everything.  This excerpt is from the volume about animals, and besides the amusing religious assertion (basically unsupported, and even unmentioned, by anyone else), it is interesting for what it gets wrong – and right – about … Continue reading The Rest of the Birds Oppress and Loathe It