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[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"] 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’ –
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"] 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,
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"] 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
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"] On Monday 10 April, the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier tweeted that he had called Libyan politician Fayez al-Sarraj, to congratulate him on his bravery in entering Tripoli. al-Sarraj was in London. In fairness, al-Sarraj, who arrived in the UK on Saturday 8 April on a ‘private visit’ and is not set to attend any ‘official meetings’ may argue he deserves a holiday, after a fraught five months which culminated in
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"] 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
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"] 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
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"] 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
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"] 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
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"]               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
[rt_reading_time label="Reading Time:" postfix="minutes"]  ‘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

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