Say It Ain’t So: The “Islamic Winter”

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”

The Pageant of Death

So Gaddafi is, apparently, dead, taking with him all the answers to the innumerable questions that we should have wanted to ask him.  I hardly think this bodes well for anyone.  Nevertheless, he was a malicious, violent, cruel despot whose people overwhelmingly deserve and demand far better.  After all, I felt nothing but glee when Mubarak and Ben Ali fell (although they were not murdered).  I even felt excited for the prospect of Gaddafi’s death back in April.  So, now that it’s happened, why the depression? Admittedly, it is somewhat hard to maintain the idea that Gaddafi’s death is exactly … Continue reading The Pageant of Death

A pre-emptive happy birthday to the Jamahiriya

I’m going to go out on a prediction limb here and wish a pre-emptive merry 42nd birthday to the absurdly named Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on September the 1st.  This is not motivated by any particular desire for the continuation of Gaddafite rule beyond or up to that date – indeed, I’m publishing this partly in order to tempt fate and ensure that, Sod’s Law, as soon as I publicly state that I think Gaddafi will remain in hiding for a good while longer yet, he is instantly and miraculously captured.  But, rationally, as Cameron and Obama declare … Continue reading A pre-emptive happy birthday to the Jamahiriya

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

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