Root Causes

When the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings began in early 2011, analysts took stock of the likely outcomes and declared that Syria was ‘immune’ to the phenomenon. The reality was sadly entirely different. It is extremely difficult to be certain exactly how many people have been killed in Syria since protests against the government of Bashar Al-Assad began in early March 2011, as neither the government nor its current strongest opponent, IS, keeps count of civilian deaths,

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Map of The Road From Carthage from "The Toss of a Coin"

In the wake of a disaster, it seems reasonable to expect that there may be moments of chaos, in which the impulse to act – to do something, however effective, sensible or otherwise it may be – might tempt people. Indeed, there are organisations which spend much of their time training people to overcome these urges, or at least to harness them to deliver constructive, positive, or at least logical outcomes. 0

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War? Well, not really…

Last week (29 June) UK Prime Minister David Cameron spoke in Parliament for almost two hours about the killing of 38 people by a gunman in the Tunisian resort of Sousse. Before we look at what he said – or any of the related details – we should start with a couple of disclaimers. First of all, I am not Russell Brand: I do not believe that it’s hypocrisy to hold a brief silence to

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In a previous post, I wrote that I hoped the HoR would reconsider its decision to reject a UN proposal for a new system of governance in Libya. Three weeks later came a reminder that we should be careful what we wish for… The Libyan Political Agreement (Draft VI) was proposed by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on 8 June. 0

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On Friday, the EU announced an agreement which had apparently taken ‘until the early hours’ to achieve: it would care for 60,000 people who had fled war, terror, poverty and unnecessary death. It’s hard to imagine how this could possibly have taken so long, for several reasons. First, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked that every state in the developed world should take 20,000 Syrian refugees (the UK has taken 187.

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This week – on Thursday 18 June – Ramadan began across the Muslim world. Lasting either 29 or 30 days (based on the sightings of the crescent moon, which symbolises the start and end of the lunar month – this year Ramadan lasts 29 days, until 16 July), it is the holiest month of the Muslim year, and centres around the date on which Mohammed is said to have received the first revelation of the

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Bernardino Leon

At the end of last week, a cartoon graphic appeared on social media sites of a handshake in front of the Libyan flag. Under the headline ‘Together for Peace in Libya’ the text reads ‘We will be highlighting in the next few days the importance of reaching a peaceful settlement in Libya as soon as possible, given the worsening security and economic conditions in the country. The aim is to explain the importance of the

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We Need To Talk

They say talk is cheap. They may be right, but it can also deliver something better than bullets and missiles… On Sunday (7 June), at the G7 (in fact, the G8 minus Russia) world leaders’ summit in Germany, UK Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to the media about the thousands of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean to gain refuge in the EU. 0

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            From the palaces – parliamentary and aristocratic – of Europe, the meeting rooms – governmental and academic – of the New World, and from the gardens of Asia. From the universities and stables of Africa, and the burja and commissariats of the Middle and Far East, a new sound can be heard. It is the sound of chains and gears rattling and clanging across the night. The sound of

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Last Tuesday (26th May) a group of armed men stormed a session of one of Libya’s two powerless Parliaments. Shortly afterwards, that Parliament’s Prime Minister, Abdullah Al-Thinni, was fired on while he travelled by car through the city of Tobruk. It is unclear whether the same people were responsible for both attacks. 0

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