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tanks against its own people: Sami Khiyami, Syrian Ambassador to London, has had his invitation to the Royal wedding withdrawn.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 »

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 »

Human Rights Muddle

5 03 2011

Category; Media, Middle East, Politics

BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen and Gaddaffi 1/3/11

This is the photo the BBC chose to put on it’s homepage on 1/3/11 for coverage of the ongoing crisis in Libya. It shows their Middle East Editor with Colonel Gaddaffi.

As I write this Colonel Gaddafi is holding onto power in Libya while insurgents hold various parts of the country and there are sporadic battles.

Internationally there are calls for the overthrow of Gaddafi and calls for foreign intervention to bring that about. Things are changing on a daily, an hourly basis at times. The situation may be different tomorrow.

This episode brings into focus the values that drive Human Rights as a political and legal issue. On what grounds should the west be actively working for his overthrow? Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Pick ‘n Mix

27 02 2011

Category; Media, Middle East, Politics

Colonel Gaddafi is a bad man. That is about as far from a controversial statement as you can get right now, when he’s gunning down his own citizens in the streets of Tripoli. But he has been a bad man for a long long time.

There is now a chorus of reaction against him, and Western governments that have dealt with him in recent years. There are reams of condemnatory column inches, a procession of talking heads.  It’s about time, but it would be a lot more comforting if those joining the clamour could answer two straight questions: Read the rest of this entry »