Cometh the hour, cometh…no man!

It is almost the thirteenth hour. Finally, the UN Security Council is sitting down to debate the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. Meanwhile in the barren Libyan countryside brave opponents of Gaddafi’s brutal dictatorship, ‘revolutionaries’ as they like to be called, are doing their best to hold out against Gaddafi’s merciless assault. They have no heavy weapons just a collection of ancient Soviet anti-aircraft guns and small arms. Their cries for help have gone unheeded and unanswered.

The West appears paralysed, seemingly unable to differentiate between a selective intervention motivated by selfish national interest and a just intervention to prevent a genocide. Not a difficult call you might think with the Balkans failure still fresh in all our minds.

Yesterday Saif Gaddafi boasted that Benghazi would be liberated in two days. This is probably unlikely, but any battle for Benghazi will be very bloody indeed. Gaddafi’s band of mercenaries will show no mercy, his air force will show no discrimination between military and civilian targets – either deliberately or through incompetence.  

Meanwhile in Washington Obama is being deliberative…or is it indecisive? The West dithers: the opportunity to rid the world of a man responsible for ordering the Lockerbie bombing, the murder of WPC Fletcher, supplying the IRA with arms, subjecting the Libyan people to 42 years brutal dictatorship and acts of gross inhumanity towards his fellow Libyans, is about to slip through our fingers.  

 Almost as important, if Gaddafi is allowed to prevail it will severely weaken the position of Arab reformers and give completely the wrong message to the Yemen, Bahrain and other repressive regimes in the Middle east.

Malcolm Rifkind suggested at PMQ’s yesterday that Egypt could be the conduit for the supply of arms to the revolutionaries. That may be an idea that could fly. If an NFZ – and perhaps a no-drive zone – could be imposed within the next 24 hours there may be some hope of rescuing the situation. Time is of the essence.

Cometh the hour, cometh…someone?  Is unilateral action out of the question? Unfortunately the answer is almost certainly ‘yes’. I have a feeling that the West… the World is about to be found wanting. God help the people of Libya.


Desperation in Shroudia Arabia?

Oh wow! That’s generous of you King Abdullah!  A $10.7 billion give away to offset high inflation and to aid young unemployed people – now what could have prompted  this  magnanimous gesture I wonder?  Oh, and there’s more…state employees are going to get a 15% pay increase, and you’re going to make more funds available for housing loans. This is truly amazing, but what about political reforms? Not yet, I see… you’re going to pardon some prisoners, but only the ones indicted for financial crimes…good one!  Do you think this will do the trick? You’re not sure, but you’ve ordered a consignment of underpants from Harrods just in case. Great!


Passivity and the betrayal of trust

“The population in the United States is angry, frustrated and full of fear and irrational hatreds. And the folks not far from you on Wall Street are just doing fine. They’re the ones who created the current crisis. They’re the ones who were called upon to deal with it. They’re coming out stronger and richer than ever. But everything’s fine – as long as the population is passive.” A recent comment from Noam Chomsky, which illustrates all too well how ‘they’ are able to get away with anything.  

When trust is betrayed it is almost impossible to restore. Like our American cousins, we have been betrayed by our so-called leaders, by our politicians, by bankers, by the fortunate who have demonstrated a degree of selfishness and disinterest in the plight of their fellow Britons that is shameful. Yet we find it hard to articulate our frustration or to find an avenue that will deliver the changes so many of us crave.

Since I wrote my blog ‘It couldn’t happen here, could it?, I’ve been struck by how many people I have spoken to who are happy to consider ‘rising up’ and making their views heard: not impetuous youth, but paid–up members of the (until now?) ‘silent majority’. They feel a real affinity with the Arabs’ cause, a real admiration for their bravery and seem to have taken strength from it. They too feel that their trust has been betrayed.

How a rising up of the British silent majority might manifest itself is difficult to imagine, but I sense that there may be surprises ahead for those who believe that they can rely on Mr and Mrs Brit remaining passive while they greedily sup at the bowl of plenty whilst selling them down the river, or who through lack of proper consideration, demonstrate a detached carelessness towards the plight of the less fortunate in our society. Interesting times ahead.


US fear prompts Bahrain brutality?

The Shah always said that Iran had a legitimate claim to Bahrain. The majority of  Bahrainis are Shi’ite, those in power are Suni.  The US Naval Forces Central Command is based in Bahrain as is the 5th Fleet. This is a toxic combination for a small Gulf sheikdom to endure. This week, encouraged by events in Egypt, the frustrations of  ordinary Bahrainis spilled over into peaceful protest. Peaceful that is until the the police opened fire and fatally wounded one of the protesters. A containable protest became something much more serious. Yesterday, saw a callous and brutal overreaction by the police and the army which resulted in at least five deaths.

Bahrainis do not suffer the same level of deprivation and poverty as Egyptians, but the inequitable distribution of wealth and the discrimination practiced by the ruling Al Khalifa family are festering sores that have been neglected for too long – and they’re Sunis.

We should keep a weather eye on what happens in Bahrain. With its paranoia over Iran and a potential threat to its presence in the Gulf, Uncle Sam is unlikely to be happy with any change to the status quo. This is one ‘revolution’ the US will be very nervous about. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa will probably escape the view of his sheikdom from a lamp post, Uncle Sam is sure to look after him. Oh for Wikileaks!