It must be difficult to be Omar al-Bashir. He is suspected of having orchestrated the murder of about half a million people, famously in Darfur and also in what was until recently the South of his country. Since 2008 the ICC has had a warrant out for his arrest. His Arab Sudanese compatriots are under strict political oppression; there is virtually no area of the country outside Khartoum which does not feel neglected. Yet despite having taken his country and himself to new limits of international isolation, things for Bashir are usually ticking over all right. But not this time. … Continue reading Khartoum’s slow march to oblivion
Two days ago I was in my local branch of Ottakars (which is actually Waterstones but which I insist on calling Ottakars out of a loyal and anachronistic stubbornness akin to the United States’ obsession with flying the South Vietnamese flag) when I saw a book which made me unspeakably furious – so furious, in fact, that I had to buy a book by Frantz Fanon in order to calm down. This book was by a man called John R. Bradley, and it expounded the idea that the Arab Spring has gone terribly wrong because it has been hijacked by … Continue reading Say It Ain’t So: The “Islamic Winter”
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)
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?
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
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