Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Middle East Category

Syria and the pith helmeted bombardiers

  • February 28, 2012
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On 2 September 1898 a British expeditionary force in Sudan defeated the armies of the Caliph Abdullah al-Tashi,  the successor to the ‘Mahdi’ Muhammad Ahmad, who had overwhelmed the British garrison at Khartoum thirteen years before.    Armed with artillery, Maxim machine guns and Lee-Metford magazine rifles fitted with dum dum bullets, British troops killed more than 9,000 of the Caliph’s soldiers in a single day.

It was, wrote  the young Winston Churchill, who was present at the battle,   ‘ the most signal triumph ever gained by the arms of science...

The World According to Robert Cooper

  • February 25, 2012
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Showing the balanced coverage for which the BBC is famous, Radio 4’s PM programme yesterday consulted the pith-helmeted former sage of the Foreign Office Robert Cooper on the West’s military options in Syria.   Cooper became famous as a foreign policy intellectual in 2002, when he published an essay in the Observer in April 2002...

Into the Abyss: Israel and the West Prepare the Next War

  • February 18, 2012
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In the last few weeks the prospect of a war with Iran has begun to assume a terrifying inevitability.  It is now clear that Western politicians, with the  support of the mainstream media, are preparing public opinion for the military option, using the same techniques that preceded the Iraq war.

As in Iraq, the current propaganda...

Democrats of the world unite!

  • February 17, 2012
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Yesterday’s General Assembly resolution against Syria was accompanied by some   quite stirring and lofty rhetoric from Western politicians.   There was U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice defending a tweet condemning Saturday’s veto of a similar resolution by Russia and China as ‘disgusting’ and ‘disgraceful’, on the grounds that:

The fact that...

Here Come the Terror Cells…Right on Cue

  • February 15, 2012
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This week’s botched attacks in Tbilisi, New Delhi and Bangkok have brought the looming war between Israel and Iran closer.  It hasn’t been determined yet whether the last incident was actually directed against Israeli diplomats or personnel, or whether Iran is responsible for them, but Israel has no doubts.

Within hours of Monday’s incidents in Georgia...

From Fallujah to Homs

  • February 08, 2012
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Yesterday’s Guardian had a terrible editorial on Syria and the ongoing siege of Homs, which summed up so much of what is corrupt, servile and deferential about the western media in general – regardless of its political orientation – when it comes to dealing with the foreign policy objectives of their own governments.

The editorial condemned...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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