It Just Doesn’t Look Good

19 03 2012

Category: Politics, Middle East

The Bristol City Council resolution in June 2010 condemning Israel and urging sanctions, a boycott and disinvestment (see here) needs to be seen in context; the other countries and issues that have earned such an extreme measure of condemnation.

As one councillor put it in that debate:

We cannot run away from this problem, we have a responsibility

And in the words of another

I believe in human rights and international law and when I see those rights being attacked day after day…I think we have an obligation to speak out

Well, they certainly spoke out on Israel;  disgraceful, despicable, outrageous, horrendous, barbarism, murderers, state terrorism, piracy, racism, villains, inhuman, rogue state, horrific, apartheid was what they said – see here for a previous post about that with video of the debate. But as for the context; it just doesn’t look good. Read the rest of this entry »





And Don’t Come Back

18 03 2012

Category: Middle East, Politics

©AP

Farewell then Sami Khiyami, Syrian Ambassador to the Court of St James, formerly an electronics engineer, latterly a ludicrous apologist for evil. Click here for details of his departure.

He has returned to Syria, permanently it seems; a country he recently described as ‘the nicest and most beautiful state in the Middle East’.

In that interview he went on to blame Israel for disorder in Syria because ‘they could be behind any bad thing in the world’.

In October he was ordered by the UK Government to stop harassing Syrians in the UK – see here.

See him justifying the unjustifiable in a previous post – click here





Bristol Doesn’t ❤ Israel

18 03 2012

Category; Politics, Middle East, Bristol

Time to revisit something from 2010. In June of that year an Israel boycott motion was passed by Bristol City Council (click here for the motion).

I watched  the debate on a webcast and found it monumentally depressing. I edited the webcast (keeping all the speakers who spoke on the topic and all their points).

Here’s that video: Read the rest of this entry »





Tonge Gone

3 03 2012

Category: Politics, Middle East

So, Jenny Tonge has been set adrift from the Liberal Democrats, as I predicted – see here for more on Jenny Tonge and the Liberal Democrats.

The story was carried on Radio 4 with an interview with Tonge and  little context or background – listen here to the honey-tongued hatemonger. Read the rest of this entry »





Many Enemies

12 01 2012

Category; Middle East, Media

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

There has been fevered discussion about who was responsible for the killing of an Iranian nuclear engineer this week; click here for a news report, or click here, or click here or here.

I say discussion, but actually everything I have read has assumed that Israel was involved; the only point of discussion is whether America was involved too. That’s lazy journalism; I cannot work out why no-one has mentioned another player in the region – Saudi Arabia.

There are at least three reasons why they should have joined Israel and America in the list of possibles: Read the rest of this entry »





So That’s What He’s Up To

4 10 2011

Category; Middle East, Politics, Rowan Laxton

Rowan Laxton apparently has a new role: Website mareeg.com is reporting that he has been appointed Senior Political Officer to UNPOS – see here. It’s the UN office for Somalia.

A search of the UNPOS site and press releases reveals nothing, and a search of the UN site reveals nothing. The news does explain why he was meeting Somalis in Starbucks recently – click hereRead the rest of this entry »





Myths, Mummies and Nonsense

9 08 2011

Category; Literature, Middle East, Politics

Professor Roger Luckhurst

For academics to lure media interest their theories need to be catchy and controversial. Radio 3 had a discussion recently on the dangers that arise when academics appear on the media.

Roger Luckhurst is a good example of what can happen to scholarship when the media calls. He’s Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. See here for biography. The media calls him, a lot, and he has a theory that’s leakier than a wedding marquee on an August Bank Holiday. Read the rest of this entry »





Oh George…

22 06 2011

Category; Media, Middle East, Politics

George Galloway gave a straight answer to a straight question yesterday.

OK, he didn’t give the straight answer straight away; he blustered, he railed, he orated. Then he gave a straight answer.

Problem is, the answer he gave, the definitive and certain answer; it wasn’t true. And demonstrably wasn’t true.  Read the rest of this entry »





People in Glass Houses

21 06 2011

Category; Middle East, Media

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles has been giving lectures on Western morality recently, and explaining that the West does not have the moral authority to condemn Arab dictators:

 …the West no longer has the moral high ground in the way that perhaps it did in the Middle East…we cannot really preach to the Arab world, we cannot really be seen to have the moral force we need… (BBC Newsnight, 15 June 2011)

He’s the sort of person who might think twice before lecturing others on morality on national television. But he’s also the sort of person who ought not to be invited onto news programmes as a neutral expert. Read the rest of this entry »





Facts That Matter

10 06 2011

Category; Media, Middle East

Facts are relative to context. No news report can be encyclopaedic enough to encompass every view and every nuance. Broadcast media especially are broad-brush and, at their best, leave an impression rather than swamping the audience with facts.

But news must be anchored in facts, and sometimes it seems the distance to that anchor is so great that the report becomes adrift.

Take the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 on 10th June 2011. Read the rest of this entry »





Stay Home Sami

28 04 2011

Category: Middle East, Law, Politics

Syria finally understands the power of the international community. It has seen what happens to a state that unleashes tanks against its own people: Sami Khiyami, Syrian Ambassador to London, has had his invitation to the Royal wedding withdrawn.

KAPOW – that’s shown them not to trample on human rights. KABOOM – they’ll think twice before killing another 450 citizens.

While the West intervenes in Libya – and it is the West doing the intervening – with Syria there is a struggle to secure even measured and mumbled condemnation. Read the rest of this entry »





Buffoonery and state killing

3 04 2011

Category; Media, Middle East

I can understand why people are sometimes scared of clowns. There’s a frightening buffoon appearing in the British media at the moment; Sami Khiyami, the Syrian Ambassador to the UK.

Jeremy Paxman did an excellent job trying to impose a sense of reality on a man who describes his country, in the grip of civil unrest and which has seen more than a hundred of its citizens killed by their own government, as ‘the nicest and most beautiful state in the Middle East‘.

As to the cause of the unrest, it is nothing to do with the authoritarian regime of President Assad, but it may be the work of the Israelis; ‘they could be behind any bad thing in the world‘.

You can watch the interview here:

Paxman handled the surreality of the interview well. His colleagues on the Radio 4’s Today programme did not.

Evan Davis interviewed Khiyami on the Today Programme on 1st April 2011. It is a negligent piece of journalism. In a programme known for combative questioning, Khiyami was handled with kid gloves.

It’s a dreadful interview. Davis even sums up for him, have a listen: Read the rest of this entry »





Assault on the Underground

30 03 2011

Category; Politics, Middle East, Media

What an arresting sight on the Northern Line platform at Leicester Square Underground Station: George Galloway addressing the platform from a poster for Press TV; telling us what ‘they‘ don’t want us to hear.

I wonder if he will tell us about his recent inclusion in a two-part World Service Documentary on Useful Idiots through the ages. This is how the programme defined Useful Idiot, a term which originated with Lenin;

Useful idiots, in a broader sense, refers to Western journalists, travellers and intellectuals who gave their blessing – often with evangelistic fervour – to tyrannies and tyrants, thereby convincing politicians and public that utopias rather than Belsens thrived.

Galloway’s most famous, and craven, display of Useful Idiocy was in the presence of Iraqi tyrant and mass-murderer Saddam Hussein.  He has, more recently, claimed that his words were addressed not to Saddam but to the Iraqi people.

But they were directed straight to Saddam. When quoted, the Arabic is often left out, presumably for reasons of understanding. If the Arabic is included there can be no doubt as to what Galloway was saying: Read the rest of this entry »





Cameron’s Presidential Precedents

19 03 2011

Category: Politics, Middle East

President Carter and President Johnson

David Cameron is surrounded by people massively knowledgeable about recent American history. I wonder if they’ve been discussing the two former Presidents I’ve been reminded of in the last week or two.

The first was Jimmy Carter. That came as a surprise; it’s not an obvious comparison. But sending helicopters into the Libyan desert triggered a great big alarm. Even before a British plane was peppered with bullets, and before a British team was, briefly, taken prisoner. Read the rest of this entry »





Multinational Special Forces

6 03 2011

Category: Politics, Middle East

Interesting that the British special forces team, briefly detained by the opposition in Libya, held passports from four countries.

It seems odd that British forces, special or otherwise, would need passports from any other country than the United Kingdom.

One must hope that they were entitled to use the passports from all four countries, and they were all in good order.

We should remind ourselves of the words of the then British Foreign Secretary exactly a year ago in March 2010 when a diplomat was expelled after it was felt that another state had used British passports as cover for a special forces mission: Read the rest of this entry »