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Cameron’s Folly: Libya, and the importance of looking forward

  (image shows Cameron and Sarkozy on their ‘victory’ visit to Libya, 15 September 2011, and the Sirte they created, at around the same time)   ‘Your friends in Britain and France will stand with you as you build your country and build your democracy for the future.’ David Cameron, address to the Libyan people, 15 September 2011. ‘(the UK government had) no proper idea what was going to happen, no proper understanding of Libya … Continue reading

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NATO, Libya and when ‘support’ is nothing of the sort…

On 8 July, as part of their international conference in Warsaw, NATO leaders are set to agree a ‘support mission’ for Libya and the Mediterranean. Parts of what is proposed – including, in the words of NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow ‘supporting Libya in building its defence institutions…’ – are not, on the face of it, either negative or especially controversial (though even this proposal is weighed down with a litany of previous fault … Continue reading

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The 10,000: the bitter result of our failure on refugees

It was sadly under-reported in UK media, but on 7 June 2016, the world reached an horrific milestone: 10,000 men, women and children have died in the Mediterranean sea since the start of the international refugee crisis. In short, we have succeeded in turning a shared holiday resort – used by Europeans, Africans and people from the Middle East alike – into a mass grave. The generally agreed date at which the international refugee crisis … Continue reading

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War, Refugees and International Law

I have never visited Dadaab refugee camp. But I have worked with people who work there, and with aid organisations who worked to provide services and opportunities to the 350,000 people effectively trapped in the Kenyan camp between war in their home states (in most cases, Somalia) and a largely indifferent international community. And wherever you work, in refugee and internally-displaced people’s* camps all over the world, those who have been – to live, work, … Continue reading

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Children in need: and the UK government’s efforts to keep them out

In the event, the second amendment, detailed below, was successful – albeit with a few codicils attached… The piece which follows was written by me on Tuesday 26 April, hours after the UK government voted to refuse to allow 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children to enter the country. It was featured on 10 May as the lead story at Refugees Deeply, the in-depth online resource focussed on the international refugee situation for journalists and all other … Continue reading

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The atrocity at Kammouneh

 It is one of many shocking and horrific developments of Syria’s bitter, five-year, multi-sided civil war that the killing of dozens of people and injuring of dozens more in an airstrike is almost commonplace – and almost certainly too ‘normal’ to write about. But the slaughter Thursday afternoon (5 May) of at least 30 people in an airstrike in Idlib province, Syria, which also injured more than 50 others, stands out even against the routine atrocity of … Continue reading

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Change Direction; or (Why) We really need to talk about Libya

On Thursday 21 April, I appeared as the opening guest on the BBC political discussion show This Week. I was there a an ‘expert’ to talk about Libya, and discuss the North African state and its current situation with the show’s host, Andrew Neil, and co-hosts Michael Portillo and Ken Livingstone (if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here). It was a privilege to be asked (I hope never to become so jaded … Continue reading

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Libya: undermined by the world’s mistakes on IS

It is unnerving, sometimes, just how swiftly irony operates. Last week, I criticised the international community for its continued freeze (now into its sixth year) of Libya’s sovereign investment fund, which has prevented every single democratically-elected government in Libyan history (a total of three, to date) from rebuilding after a war in which NATO played a part in smashing its infrastructure into rubble. It also noted that a new ‘government’ – the ‘Government of National … Continue reading

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Death on the Mediterranean: the EU, and the avoidable loss of lives at sea

Overnight last night (Sunday 17 and Monday 18 April), as many as 500 people (the minimum estimate by Monday evening was 400, the survivors claimed it was 100 more) drowned in the Mediterranean between North Africa and Italy. It took the death toll on the Mediterranean this year to more than 1,200, and the total since January 2015 to more than 5,000 people. That is, in 16 months, five thousand men, women and children have … Continue reading

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The Pope, and the shaming of Europe

It’s not especially easy to praise the Pope. First of all, the fact is that statistically-speaking, most of the world believes he worships a figment of his imagination, the wrong god, or the wrong aspect of the right god. Then you are faced with the inescapable history of the church, including its part in the conquering and occupation of regions of the world which are now – not coincidentally – in the most urgent need … Continue reading

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