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‘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
‘…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,
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
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
On Monday 4th January, IS opened a salvo of attacks on Libyan oil ports and terminals. The week-long operation (though the vast majority of the activity was finished in the first three days) was the start of what many people have portrayed as - and IS itself would like you to believe is – an ominous and threatening ‘new initiative’ by the terror group. (more…)
On 29th November, when the EU was just eleven months into its year of failure, it struck a deal with Turkey in an attempt to address part of the international refugee crisis. It is remarkable – and flawed. (more…)
It’s the morning of New Year’s Eve, and you’re in a car with three aid workers and a driver, heading from Izmir to buy blankets from a town three hours’ drive away. It’s freezing. Literally. There is snow in the air, and ice on the wind. In Izmir itself, a city not known for cold weather, people have stepped out of their apartment blocks, offices or cafes, stopped, stared and shrugged at the snow, buttoning
When is a political agreement not a political agreement? When it is neither political, nor an agreement. As jokes go, it may not be the best you’ll hear in the next few days (though in the UK, at least, the standards of Christmas cracker gags vary wildly enough that it might), but despite many representations to the contrary, it’s a pretty accurate description of Libya’s last eight days. (more…)
[caption id="attachment_709" align="alignleft" width="348"] Mohamed Bouazizi[/caption] Five years ago today, on 18 December 2010, an uprising in Tunisia began, marking the ‘official’ first moments of what became known as the Arab Spring. In fact, the street protests were in themselves a response to the self-immolation of 26 year-old Tunisian Tarek el Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, itself caused by unjustifiable mistreatment by police and insufferable economic and social hardship which were, in turn, caused by a range
While the UK’s attention has been understandably focused on Syria in recent weeks, life – good and bad – continues elsewhere. And recent political and military developments regarding Libya have exemplified both the good and the bad at national and international level. (more…)

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