The Saudis may be holding the Lebanese Prime Minister hostage but their apparent plan to topple the Beirut government has gloriously backfired. Far from breaking up the cabinet and throwing Hezbollah’s ministers to the wolves, the Lebanese nation has suddenly woken up to what it’s like to be united – against the Saudis. The Lebanese government has announced that it does not accept the resignation statement which Saad Hariri was obliged to make in Riyadh, and overnight hashtags have appeared on several Beirut streets saying “kul na Saad” – “We are all Saad”. Even the Sunni Muslims of Lebanon are furious at their Sunni counterparts in Saudi Arabia.
The overwhelming vote for Kurdish independence in the referendum in northern Iraq is re-energising Kurdish nationalism and the demand for a separate Kurdish state.
British people are among the most depressed people in the Western world, according to new data.
A message came through from Syria on my mobile phone last week. “General Khadour kept his promise,” it read. I knew what it meant.
Noam Chomsky has criticised the anti-fascist movement and argued its actions are wrong in principle and it is a “major gift to the right”.
Three Out of Four Democrats Would Give Up Drinking for Life in Return for Trump's Impeachment, Poll Finds
Not since Ibn Batuta, travelled the Middle East in the 14th century has anyone set out with higher ambitions that Donald Trump. Batuta, a Moroccan Muslim traveller and scholar, had a few things in common with Trump. He reached what is now Saudi Arabia. He went to Jerusalem. He even had a keen eye for nubile ladies – there were a few wives, not to mention a Greek slave girl to be groped. But there the parallels end. For Ibn Batuta was sane.
Do they feel no sense of shame? What callousness. What disgrace. How outrageous that our compassion should dry up the moment we realised that this latest massacre of the innocents wasn’t quite worth the same amount of tears and fury that the early massacre had produced. It fact it wasn’t worth a single tear. For the 126 Syrians – almost all of them civilians – who have just been killed outside Aleppo, were Shia Muslims being evacuated from two government-held (ie Bashar-held) villages in the north of Syria. And their killer was obviously from al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) or one of the Sunni “rebel” groups we in the West have armed – or quite possibly from Isis itself – and thus didn’t qualify for our sorrow.
Funny how another nation’s sectarian hatred comes seeping over the national frontier of its neighbours. Mexico is now fighting off the US President’s wall mania. Justin Trudeau’s Canada looks squeaky clean compared to America. You can forgive the Prime Minister’s vanity – Trudeau is now posing Tom Cruise style, eyes narrowed in love towards his wife in her cringe-making Women’s Day photo-op with her husband. Not long ago, the same couple blessed the cover of Vanity Fair. But he’s the guy who walks talk on immigration, welcomes Syrian refugees with affection, tells them they’re “home” and generally makes Trump look like a scumbag.
How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them."