Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Middle East Category

Our Man in Riyadh

  • January 13, 2012
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Today, David Cameron makes his first state visit to that beacon of democracy and human rights Saudi Arabia.     According to the BBC’s ineffable ‘security correspondent’ Frank Gardner

 …the trip is important for both Mr Cameron and his Saudi hosts.   He says Saudi Arabia has been rattled by both the overthrow of its longstanding ally, President Mubarak of Egypt, and the recent tensions with Iran. He adds that both the UK and Saudi Arabia are hoping to forge a new strategic partnership in energy, business and security. A Saudi official says the...

The Discreet Charm of the Mossad

  • January 12, 2012
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It isn”t difficult to imagine how Western governments would react if a foreign state assassinated its scientists, blew up its military facilities, or carried out bomb attacks on army officers, while heads of that state”s intelligence agency dropped hints that “There are more bullets in the magazine”.

Such actions would be universally condemned as terrorism.  ...

Amnesty’s ‘Year of Rebellion’ report

  • January 10, 2012
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Amnesty International’s new report: The Year of Rebellion: The State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa is an extraordinarily moving and also salutary document, which provides a broad overview of the tumultuous events that shook the Arab world in 2011.

Reading it I was struck by various things:

1) The courage, creativity and...

The Happy Warrior

  • January 04, 2012
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Politicians love a man in uniform, as the Gang of Four once sang, no matter how sordid, dishonest, reckless and incoherent the wars they fight in.   Last December David Cameron launched the Sun’s Military Awards ceremony with a reception at Downing Street in which he praised the ‘Herculean bravery’ of the nominees. ...

Nick Cohen: anti-fascist fighter

  • January 02, 2012
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I’m impressed.  Hardly has the nation had time to wake up from the New Year revelries and there is the redoubtable Nick Cohen, scourge of dictators everywhere, announcing his decision to  leave his friends and family and exchange his pen for a rifle in order go off to Syria to fight for the...

Obama’s new arms race

  • December 30, 2011
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Is it possible to take back the Nobel Peace Prize?   I only ask because the award given to Barack Obama may well go down as one of the dumbest decisions the Nobel Committee has ever made, even worse than the prizes given to Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat for a treaty that effectively...

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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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