Monday, July 30, 2007

Speaking next in September

I'm next speaking to the Saudi British Society at the Middle East Association, 33 Bury Street, London SW1, early in the evening of Tuesday 11th September. If you are interested in coming, further details can be found here.

The date - a coincidence and not deliberate - is certainly a resonant one on which to speak about the Arab revolt, which began 91 years ago this year. It was in his first public announcement after 9/11 that Osama bin Laden claimed that "Our nation has been tasting humiliation and contempt for more than eighty years". Bin Laden shows a considerable awareness of the Arab revolt and its circumstances, and he understands how powerful an abbreviation for betrayal that episode has become across the Muslim world.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"Our man in Pakistan"

Listening to the radio news this morning, I particularly enjoyed novice Foreign Secretary David Miliband's description of President Musharraf as "Our Man in Pakistan". I wonder though, if President Musharraf will appreciate the implication that he is Britain's agent in the region. That after all, is what is helping to galvanise the groundswell of opposition to him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back from the Caucasus

Alaverdi, Northern Armenia
Back from three weeks in the southern Caucasus: a full report to follow shortly. It's good to return to find that there's now no longer any need for the Free Alan Johnston banner. Here is an interesting report from Conflicts Forum which provides more of the background to this welcome development, and emphasises the need for direct talks with Hamas, no matter how unpalatable that organisation's views can seem.