Author Archives: admin

The Turkey Deal: Immorality, impossibility and the EU’s lowest moment

On Sunday (3 April) I was asked to take part in a debate on Al Jazeera about whether the ‘closing’ of routes used by refugees to cross from Turkey to Greek islands would lead to a greater number of people entering the EU from Libya. In the event, I couldn’t make it. I was in Liverpool to help launch a writers’ festival (Page to Stage) and the local BBC had no studios free for use … Continue reading

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Istanbul and Brussels; IS and Us

On Saturday night, my partner and I were out in Izmir. As Turkey’s third largest city – a bustling port with a deserved reputation for political, artistic and intellectual activity, with three universities and a population of four million people – Izmir is generally a lively night out. But on Saturday, we walked through almost deserted streets, past bars which were largely without customers, and many more which had closed early or not opened at … Continue reading

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Libya, the international community and the risk of spiralling chaos

On Saturday night, the body charged with delivering a new Libyan government announced it had ‘a green light’ for the government to start work, and that it intended to take power in Libya. There were only two problems. First, it made the announcement from Tunisia, where it sits because Libya’s two powerless and illegitimate governments, backed by heavily-armed and ruthless illegal militias, remain in Libya itself. Second, it actually had nothing like a ‘green light’ … Continue reading

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March into madness – European chaos, and a tentative Syrian ceasefire

February 29 2016 was not the greatest day in European history. Fewer than two months into the new year, and just six months since the last time a European government’s police fired on unarmed men, women and children at its border, desperate people fleeing violence and terror had, once again, cast the world’s richest political bloc into political, legal and practical chaos. In its West, police fired teargas at refugees at the Jungle camp, near … Continue reading

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Not A Good Time To Be Turkish – Turkey, the Kurds, and the Syrian Civil War

              This is not a good time to be Turkish. Or, for that matter, a Kurd. Perched on the edge of one of the two defining conflicts of the modern age, to be either Turk or Kurd is today not only to be attacked by IS, and threatened by the overspill of other armed participants in the Syrian Civil War, but also to be at war – in effect … Continue reading

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The Desert of Lop. Chasing illusions in Libya

 ‘The truth is this. ‘When a man is riding by night through this desert, then he hears spirits talking and will suppose them to be his companions… ‘Sometimes in the night they are conscious of a noise like the clatter of a great cavalcade of riders, away from the road; and believing that these are of their own company, they go where they hear the noise, and when day breaks, find they are victims of … Continue reading

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The Desert of Lop. Chasing illusions in Syria*

‘The truth is this. ‘When a man is riding by night through this desert, then he hears spirits talking and will suppose them to be his companions… ‘Sometimes in the night they are conscious of a noise like the clatter of a great cavalcade of riders, away from the road; and believing that these are of their own company, they go where they hear the noise, and when day breaks, find they are victims of … Continue reading

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 Money, mayhem and murder: Syria and a week of ‘progress’

‘…the anguish of each belongs to us all…’ Primo Levi, The Girl of Pompeii             ‘We need a no-fly zone. We need it to survive… People are thinking about managing the conflict, not ending it.’ Marcelle Shehwaro, Kesh Malek (Aleppo-based NGO) The first week of February 2016 may turn out to have been the most important for Syria since the start of the state’s civil war in March 2011. Sadly, … Continue reading

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Routine Atrocity: Death at sea, in Syria, Libya and beyond…

The song Nature Boy by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds begins with the protagonist watching the news and seeing: ‘…ordinary slaughter, I saw some routine atrocity’. The point is reasonably clear – that faced with continual exposure to the horrendous, even the worst things we could possibly imagine become somehow run-of-the mill, or commonplace. I only mention it because in a conversation with my partner yesterday I almost – though not quite – answered … Continue reading

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Reality check: Europe, Libya, refugees and the nature of truth…

The third section of this four-part blog, all of which was written on Saturday 23 January, deals with the United Nations’ proposal for a ‘Government of National Accord’ which is – as I point out – not a government, not ‘national’ in the sense of belonging to or being ‘Libyan’, and is not the focus of any ‘accord’ within Libya. Today (Monday 25th January), the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) – one of Libya’s two … Continue reading

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