Category Archives: Europe / International

Anything to do with European / international issues

Tanks to Ukraine

Like many living in Germany, the Federal Government’s hesitancy in supplying weapons to Ukraine is not only puzzling to me, but frankly massively embarrassing. German profited massively from the Peace Dividend at the end of the cold war – and so reduced its spending on defence that the Bundeswehr is a shadow of its former self. Despite the clear threats to European stability, particularly after the Crimean annexation, previous governments, led by the Christian Democrats, had given little attention to active threats.

The “traffic light” coalition government is itself divided on the provision of tanks to Ukraine. Ministers from the …

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Britain can never rejoin the EU, it might join it.

I have passionately supported European integration since I first became aware of the European Economic Community around 1962. I am as die-hard a Remainer as you can find. Despite that, I consider calls within our Party asking our leaders to campaign for re-join to be naïve.

To re-join something means basically to restore what existed before. If I fail to pay my subscription to the Chartered Institute of Taxation, I will be expelled. If I pay the missing subscription in a reasonable timescale, I can re-join and do not need to take any membership examinations; examinations that must be taken by new members seeking to join.

To put it very simply, the UK has left the EU. If it wishes to become a member, it needs to apply for membership. The EU has a detailed process for dealing with membership applications, and of course every single EU member state has a veto.

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A blue print for a modern, post-Putin Russia

Fears are growing for the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny whose health is deteriorating with chills, fever and severe cough. In a brave show of force, some five hundred Russian doctors have signed an open letter to Vladimir Putin demanding an end to the ‘abuse of Alexei Navalny’.

Alexi Navalny, 46, has long been the most prominent face of Russian opposition.  Even from prison, he and his team had been mapping out a road map for the emergence of a democratic, modern Russia after Putin goes.

On Thursday evening, in a Liberal Democrat European Group webinar debate, I will be in an hour-long conversation with Navalny’s close friend and former campaign chief-of-staff, Leonid Volkov, currently in exile in Lithuania. Navalny and Volkov came to prominence through the freshness of their vision, their anti-corruption campaigns and their skills at deploying the Internet and live streaming to get their message across to millions.

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Making a difference for LGBTI+ communities across Europe

On 12 October two young members of the LGBTI+ community, university student and bartender Matus Horvath and visual merchandiser Juras Vankulic – were shot dead outside ‘Teplaren’, one of Bratislava’s two LGBTI+ bars. The killer, the son of a local far-right politician, who later shot himself, had before the shootings published online a white suprematist manifesto, expressing his wish to carry out further attacks on different groups.

The killings took place in Slovakia, a country which for months had witnessed increasing lies and insults from Slovakian politicians and the Catholic Church aimed at the LGBTI+ community, whipping up the atmosphere of hatred against them – an atmosphere that had been nurtured for years by politicians in power and in Parliament. Slovakia is one of the few countries in the Europe that still does not give any legal recognition to same-sex relationships.

Last Friday evening, during the ALDE Council meeting in Bratislava, delegates from liberal and democrat parties from across Europe gathered outside Teplaren bar to remember the terrible events of that night – we laid white roses, lit candles and filed past in silence – this was not the time for big speeches, rather quiet reflection. The photos of the two young victims stared out from the darkened windows of the bar, which to them like many other young people had come to be seen as a refuge – a home and a haven – in a country which systematically rages against them.

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ALDE Party Council – so many thoughts, so little time…

It was grey and dank as I strode briskly through the quiet morning streets of Bratislava en route to one of those modern, efficient hotels that are so much a feature of European city centres these days. I was a man on a mission, eager to contribute my knowledge and wisdom to the cause of European liberalism. And then I arrived at the ALDE Party Council meeting…

In fairness, the meeting started with a tribute to our fallen colleague, Robert Woodthorpe Browne, with contributions from the co-Presidents, Ilhan Kyuchyuk and Timmy Dooley, Phil Bennion (Chair of our Federal International Relations Committee) and Manfred Eisenbach, who likened his friendship with Robert to that of Stadler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show.

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@ALDEParty Council to meet in Bratislava – the preview

And so, once again this year, I find myself heading for Bratislava, this time as a member of the Party’s delegation to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party Council meeting which takes place on Saturday morning. Here’s what’s on the agenda…

Preparations for the 2024 European Elections

A tricky, and somewhat painful, agenda item for us, given that we won’t be fighting them and don’t have a vote on the manifesto, but work is underway on designing the campaign, drafting a Europe-wide message and building stronger links with non-ALDE members of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. Our position as a European nation which doesn’t have any formal arrangement with the European Union, nor ambitions to join, does leave us a bit like a small boy with his nose against the outside of the shop window.

Finance

The Commission is being difficult about receipts from third countries (for example, us), and there are suggestions that our rights within the ALDE Party are in jeopardy. Indeed, the key European Regulation 1141/2014 does offer challenges in terms of having non-EU member parties. But it does seem strange that the Commission would discourage participation from EEA states (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), Schengen micro-states such as Andorra, or even candidate nations such as Bosnia-Hercegovina or Moldova.

I would expect quite a lot of horse trading before this resolves itself, but we will continue to make the case for wider inclusivity within all European political families.

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A job and a half for the new Federal International Relations Committee

I was very pleased to have been part of the successful Federal International Relations Committee’s (FIRC) 2-hour international marathon at the West Midlands conference last weekend. Full marks to current FIRC Chair Phil Bennion. A FIRC First!

Having just been elected to the new Federal International Relations Committee, I will be encouraging it to focus on four big areas:
• Get our party leadership back on track concerning Europe.
• Mobilise newly enfranchised overseas voters to vote Lib Dem at the next UK General Election, especially in our target seats.
• Keep Lib Dems’ profile up internationally so the party continues to have global and European influence.
• Continue …

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US Midterms: Democrats defy the odds in the House contests

Going into yesterday’s elections, the expectation was that the Democrats would be hard pressed to repel the five seat swing required by the Republicans to win control of the House. But, as it turned out, the task is made easier if you have extremist candidates carrying the red banner, and you threaten abortion rights in a country where the majority favour abortion rights with some, usually mainstream, restrictions.

And so far, that’s how it seems to be playing. Of the sixty-four seats judged to be in play by the Cook Political Report, forty-five Democrat-held to just nineteen Republican-held, as I write …

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US Midterms – we’re probably not going to know the Senate result for a while yet…

Good morning, and welcome to our further coverage of the critical US midterm elections. Many thanks to Paul Walter, who set the scene yesterday.

On the plus side, it looks as though the ‘red tsunami’ only just made it to the shoreline, but the prospects still look on the gloomy side. We’ll start with the knife edge that is the Senate, where just one flipped seat (net) would hand control to the Republicans. Starting with Paul’s ‘five to watch’:

New Hampshire was, traditionally, a Republican bastion in New England but, as the southern part of the state has seen a population shift from Massachusetts in search of lower housing costs and lower taxes, voting patterns have shifted. The preferred Republican candidate was Governor Chris Sununu, the son of John Sununu, a former Governor and George Bush’s Chief of Staff, but he chose to seek re-election. That left the Republicans with Don Bolduc, a retired US Army Brigadier-General, whose primary victory was founded on a strong anti-abortion stance and a belief that the 2020 Presidential election was “stolen”. The fact that, having won the primary, he then almost immediately started rowing away from both positions probably explained his subsequent lack of success, as incumbent Maggie Hassan is currently 50,000 votes ahead with about 120,000 left to be counted.

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President Xi’s next five years – What should Europe’s strategy be?

For readers interested in geopolitics, an event organised by the Federal International Relations Committee may be attractive.

The online webinar starts at 6.30 p.m. on Tuesday evening (8th November) and will be opened by Lord Jeremy Purvis.

George Cunningham, the panel’s moderator, will welcome:

  • renowned sinologist Prof Kerry Brown of King’s College London;
  • Vera Kranenberg, a researcher at the Clingendael China Centre
  • Reinhard Bütikofer MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with China
  • Ms Meia Nouwens, Senior Fellow for Chinese Defence Policy and Military Modernisation at International Institute for Strategic Studies

Anyone interested is asked to register in advance here.

The Federal International Relations …

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The Elections Act made easy

On 11 August, in celebration of ASEAN Day (8 August), the Libdems Overseas (LDO) group based in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia held a virtual meet-up with guest speaker, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. On the agenda was the very important topic of how to prepare Brits living abroad to register and vote in future general elections and national referendums.

The Act received the Royal Assent in April this year but is riddled with problems, and has yet to be brought into force by statutory instrument. It introduces amongst other things votes for life (including for those who have lived overseas for more than fifteen years) but also more stringent requirements for voting, such as photo-IDs for UK voters. This would disenfranchise about 9% of voters who currently do not possess one of the permissible forms of photo-ID. Student cards are apparently not acceptable, though pensioners Freedom passes are. The Act would also make it easier for political donations from abroad, though those over £500 would still have to be reported by the political party to the Electoral Commission.

It is therefore no surprise that Lord Wallace who led the Party in debates on the Bill has described it as a “nefarious piece of legislation”, “shabby and illiberal”. The Liberal Democrats had proposed two amendments to the Elections Bill in the House of Lords, neither of which were accepted by the UK Government:

  • A feasibility study leading to British citizens living abroad having their own overseas constituencies and Members of Parliament, as happens with France.
  • Overseas voters to be issued their ballots electronically either by email or downloaded to increase substantially the likelihood that their votes would arrive in time.
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Tom Arms’ World Review 19 June 2022

Cheeseburgers and cars without seatbelts

Big Macs are a thing of the past for Muscovites.  McDonald’s—along with 400 other Western businesses—shut down their Russian operations as part of sanctions against Putin’s War in Ukraine. But the Russians have come with an answer. They have simply taken over the McDonald’s outlets and handed them to oligarch Alexander Gorvov. The golden arches have been pulled down and Coca-Cola and Big Macs are off the menu. But there is some consolation for Russian carnivores– a double cheeseburger is 30 roubles cheaper. However, the rebranding of McDonalds does not mean that sanctions are failing. For example, this week the Russians launched what wags are calling the “anti-sanctions car”. Because of Western sanctions Russian car maker Lada cannot import key components. So the new Lada is without seat belts, air bags, an anti-lock braking system or electronic stability control. It is, however, cheaper. Set against these inconveniences is the fact that Russian oil and gas exports have provided the regime with a $26 billion trade surplus in the first five months of this year. However, at the same time, economists believe that sanctions will start to bite by the end of the year and Russian GDP will have shrunk by ten percent.  If this happens then Muscovites may not be able to afford cheap cheeseburgers or cheap cars

Resistance in Ukraine

Winston Churchill called it the Special Operations Executive and ordered it to “set Nazi-occupied Europe alight.” Eighty years later Volodomyr Zelensky has created the Special Operations Forces (SSO) and ordered it to set Russian occupied Ukraine alight. They are doing just that. They are responsible for dozens of attacks on Russian airbases and have blown up railway tracks, bridges and radar stations. Eight Russian soldiers died from poison pies baked and distributed by a little old lady. She was an SSO operative.  So far, the Ukrainian resistance has claimed the lives of more than 150 Russian soldiers, and as the war in the south and east heats up so does the SSO-organised resistance. They are even reputed to be responsible for mysterious fires at military facilities across the border in Russia.

Rivers are one of the world’s most effective natural barriers, especially in war torn Ukraine. The current 60-mile long frontline is dominated by the Siversky Donets River. The Russians have to cross it to control the Eastern Donbas Region. Ukrainian civilians trapped by Russian artillery have to cross it to reach safety and Ukrainian soldiers have to cross it in the opposite direction to fight the Russians. Key to control of the river is mastery of the city of Sieverodonetsk which is currently the scene of street fighting and heavy Russian bombardment. 500 civilians—including 40 children—are trapped in the city’s Azot Chemical factory. The Stalinist era plant is well stocked with food, medical supplies and a labyrinthine network of tunnels; much the same as the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. The roughly 700 defenders of Mariupol have disappeared into Russia, and a similar fate probably awaits the soldiers and civilians in Sieverodonetsk.  Diplomats, however, are trying to organise their rescue out of the city and across the Siversky Donets River and to Sieverodonetsk’s sister city of Lysychansk. With the river between the city and the Russian forces, Lysychansk will be easier to defend.

Boris Johnson in trouble

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Lithuania takes Liberal lead against authoritarianism

The Baltic country of Lithuania, with a population of fewer than three million, has become a European lightning rod for liberal democratic values in the battle against authoritarianism.

Key Belarus and Russian opposition figures are in exile there. Democratic Taiwan has opened an office in Vilnius to push for a tougher stand against Chinese expansion. Here are a few lines from my recent conversations.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, wife of opposition figure Sergei Tikhanovsky, now jailed by the Belarus regime;

It’s very important to understand that people who have been living in dictatorship for 27 years, also have to study

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2022 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

EDITOR NOTE: some of this report contains references to torture and abuse.

I arrived in Geneva last night for the first time in two years for the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, an annual event raising the plight of political prisoners worldwide and drawing attention to human rights abuses by state actors. It is always a privilege to be in the company of the speakers, who are variously former political prisoners, family members and representatives of prisoners and front line human rights defenders.

The event at the UN was opened by the Canadian permanent mission to the UN who asked for full support for the suspension of Russia from the Human Rights Council this week.

The first speaker was Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian human rights defender who focusses on the denial of due process in Iranian courts and torture of defendants. She pointed out that 72 deaths have occurred in custody in a decade.

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What is LDFU and how will we help Ukraine?

On 26th February, I tweeted “who would help me set up a Liberal Democrats Friends of Ukraine?” thinking I might get one or two people to help me set up a small Associated Organisation. What I got was multiple volunteers, a larger than expected interest and, very quickly, an organisation with nearly 100 members.

Myself, Jake Stevenson, Leo Dempster and Euan Davidson became the founding members, and first executive, of Liberal Democrats Friends of Ukraine (or LDFU). We launched a basic website, Twitter account and a sign-up sheet on Google Forms, and within 14 hours we had 70 members and over 100 followers. What we were most surprised at is the amount of members that said they would like to volunteer: as it stands, about 70% of members said they want to volunteer for LDFU.

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Want to represent the Liberal Democrats and influence international politics? Read on…

The ALDE Party and Liberal International both hold their next Congresses in June and their committees will face re-election. Accordingly, Federal International Relations Committee (FIRC) is seeking potential candidates to serve on these committees.

Closing date: 15 March

The following opportunities are available to Liberal Democrat members;

ALDE Party Bureau

This is the political leadership of the ALDE Party, and most, but not all, current Bureau members have parliamentary experience. A high level of political experience, preferably with a European dimension, is an advantage. If nominated, the candidate will take part in an election where the electorate will consist of the delegates to the …

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How to help Ukraine

I am frustrated. I want to be on the Kyiv front line reporting the heroic defense of the city. I can’t. I am old and decrepit. But I – and whomever is reading this — can help in other ways. We can send money. We collect money. We can send clothes and supplies to refugees. We can support agencies helping to defend Ukraine and OUR democratic values. We can write to our MPs, Congressmen, Senators, community leaders and social media influencers expressing our opinions and calling on them to both prepare and act.

So to start with here is a selection of organisations helping Ukraine. There are others which you may already be aware of or have yet to be created. Please tell me of any by emailing me at [email protected] I will endeavour to dispatch regular updates.

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In solidarity with Ukraine in Welwyn Garden City

Gathered together in support of the people of UkraineIs there anything tangible that I can do to help those in need, I often ask myself? Being well informed, being on top of the news agenda is not nearly enough.

Sometimes, the most spontaneous ideas can make a real a difference. A simple gathering, organised “overnight” can simply bring together a few people to show that even if we live far away, we care, we are sad, angry, devastated and that we want to show our solidarity with our Ukrainian friends. This is how …

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Welcome to my day: 28 February 2022 – “It’s now or never…”

It is slightly hard to believe that, a week ago, the idea of war between two nations on the European continent was hard to credit, despite Russian provocation. And here we are, with an almost entirely united Europe doing everything it can short of actually fighting. That might not be so far away, given all the evidence that we are confronted by someone who thinks that, if he keeps pushing, we’ll crack. So far, it seems as though Vladimir Putin is wrong about that.

We’ve also learned that, in an age of instant reportage where anyone with a smartphone can be their own journalist, it’s hard to control the narrative in the way that authoritarians always need to do, especially in a developed country with widespread mobile phone coverage. And cyber-war can be fought by both sides and, more difficult to counter, by anonymous individuals from bedrooms in the suburbs of distant cities.

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The Geneva Accord Proposals to resolve the Palestine – Israel Conflict

Editorial note – in line with our usual policy on this issue, all comments will be moderated prior to publication. Please be patient whilst our volunteer editors review these.

There is an interesting development that has (as usual) been ignored in the British Media. Members of the Geneva Initiative have developed a detailed plan which they are presenting to the United Nations and to the Biden Administration.

Two of the main figures behind this initiative are Yossi Bellin and Yasser Abed Rabbo have both been ministers in the Israeli and Palestinian governments respectively. They have been joined by politicians, academics and many others from both countries who have been working on these proposals for a number of years.

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West Bank settlements, Liberal values, and our Israeli sister party: time for a realignment

Our Autumn Conference passed a motion entitled ‘Towards a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine’. Critically, the motion was amended, calling for legislation ‘to cease trade with illegal settlements, unless and until a negotiated peace settlement is reached’. Speaking for this amendment, I argued that the UK has obligations under international humanitarian law to refrain in any manner from supporting illegal settlements and must therefore cease trading with them; and that if we are to retain the hope of reaching a two-state solution, it is critical to reject a one-state reality and uphold the legal – and moral – distinction between pre-1967 Israel and the occupied territories.

The illegality of settlements is unequivocal: the International Court of Justice in its Wall Opinion held that the transfer of Israeli civilian population into the occupied territories through the construction of settlements breaches Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This legal position was endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2234, which the UK supported. The motion originally proposed merely to label settlement products, but that did not go far enough: while enabling consumers to make informed choices, labelling still allows products to be sold, despite being produced in illegal settlements. Only by refraining from trade will the UK be desisting from active cooperation with the settlement project, and thus fulfilling its obligation to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions.

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The title of Mr Putin’s article is a misnomer

Ukraine matters to Russia, and Russia – or Putin if you will as both are currently inseparable – means it.

This is in substance the message carried by the deployment of about 100.000 soldiers along the Ukrainian border. To make his message clearer Mr. Putin not only deployed some of its best trained units or nuclear, biological, and chemical reconnaissance vehicles but also its latest and very dangerous Iskander ballistic missile launchers – as Janes reports.

The alleged ‘historico-philosophical’ basis for this deployment is to be found in the long article entitled ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians’ signed by President Putin himself. It is freely available in English on the Kremlin’s website and, having read it from top to bottom, I found it fascinating at multiple levels.

For a start because Mr. Putin, to justify Russian-Ukrainian ties, goes back to the princes of the Rurik dynasty. The latters named after the legendary Rurik, chief of the Rus, who reigned in 862 and whose current titled heirs includes one of my very good friends who was until a few months ago the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Latvia, Republic of Estonia and Republic of Lithuania. I wonder what, now back to Switzerland, he would make of this paragraph of the article:

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ALDE Party Council preview – Rome(o), Rome(o), wherefore art thou, Rome(o)…

Holding any international meeting in a time of plague is a challenge, but when the rules are in such a state of flux as has been caused by the Omicron variant, there is a sense that you might be better staying at home. But, despite the requires for tests, passports and all the associated hassle, at least some of the party’s delegation to ALDE Party Council will be travelling to Rome for meetings on Friday and Saturday. It is a hybrid meeting so, for those of us who, for various reasons, can’t or won’t travel, it will be another series of sessions in front of laptops or PCs.

The key matters of business are;

  • finance – the 2022 budget is to be adopted
  • membership – we have two applications from parties in Georgia and Lithuania
  • urgency resolutions
  • the future of the ALDE Individual Members group

One of the joys of state funding is a degree of predictability, and the fact that the ALDE Party receives most of its income via a direct grant from the European Commission does make for a rather less fraught financial position than is the case for British political parties. All of the European political groupings are funded in the same way, with strict limits on corporate and individual donations, and as funding has become more generous in recent years, it enables more Europe-wide campaigning, albeit restricted to the confines of the European Union.

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Liberal Democrats and the world – the video!

In late July, the new Chair of the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee, Dr Phil Bennion, wrote in these pages of the Party’s renewed commitment to internationalism. It isn’t just words, as there’s now a video which outlines some of the work being done at home and abroad to promote our internationalist agenda, and here it is…

You may notice your friendly neighbourhood Day Editor at about 1:27 in…

* Mark Valladares is a directly elected member of Federal International Relations Committee and part of the Party’s delegation to the ALDE Party Council.

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Liberal Democrats call for radical new approach to Israel/Palestine conflict

The Liberal Democrats have called for more trade with Palestine and Israel, more resources for peace and upholding of international law by ceasing trade with illegal settlements.

Liberal Democrat members have today passed a motion at party conference calling for a new approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The motion, the first on Israel/Palestine at Lib Dem conference since 2017, reaffirms the party’s call for immediate recognition of the state of Palestine alongside calling on the UK Government to commit further resources to peace.

The Liberal Democrats have become the first UK political party to formally support the creation of a peace fund for the region to build trust between Israeli and Palestinian communities, modelled on similar schemes previously used in Northern Ireland.

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The Liberal Democrat Conference on the Future of Europe

As we head into the Autumn conference and debating season, for those of us for whom Europe is still the most defining issue of our time, the next couple of months are going to be very exciting. As a member of the Liberal Democrats you are going to have the opportunity to have your say.

In June the European Union launched its “Conference on the Future of Europe”, whose purpose is to generate ideas and set out a vision for how the EU should develop and improve in the future.

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An Afghanistan catastrophe Part 2 (of 2)

In Part One, I offered a view of why and when the occupation of Afghanistan failed. In Part Two, I explore the future implications.

The first shorter term problem is the evacuation.

It could be used as pretext to keep a contingent of special forces in the country, and keep the conflict going. Liberal Democrats have emphasised the need for a land corridor from Kabul to Pakistan, but this would require negotiation with the Talebs, as yet absent.

A further dimension to this is the wave of Western media stories about ISIS and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, despite scant evidence on the latter, and formal ‘Western’ reports dismissing scare stories on the former.

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What can we expect the Lib Dems to say in today’s Parliamentary debate on Afghanistan?

Parliament returns to day to spend five short hours debating the crisis in Afghanistan.

What can we expect Liberal Democrats to be saying?

The first priority is about getting people to safety. Yesterday, Layla Moran tweeted that we should be taking at least 20,000 refugees, a figure based on what we had called on for Syrians and what the Canadians had proposed.

Crucially, she added that this had to be backed up by proper funding to local councils to resettle refugees and provide them with the support that they need.

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Britain must commit to taking Afghan refugees

The unfolding military conflict in Afghanistan has long been leading to a humanitarian crisis. As British and American troops leave the country, the Taliban has continued its offensive march, taking towns and cities almost at will. At the time of writing they have entered the capital and look set to destroy Afghanistan’s fragile but growing democracy and replace it with a brutal regime.

British troops are currently evacuating UK nationals and are encouraging those who risked everything by working with Coalition forces against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to go through the resettlement scheme. This bureaucratic nightmare however can take months and even years to navigate, with the United States’ equivalent being even more complex. Without immediate action now, we are condemning those heroes and their families who risked everything to help our troops to the mercy of the Taliban.

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Afghanistan enters a new phase in its tragedy

Afghanistan entered a new phase in its tragedy today, with the Taliban on the outskirts of Kabul. Over forty years of war have led us back to “year zero” once more.

Events have moved quickly. Only two months ago, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, members of the Afghan Civic Democrats and the UNAMA talked to Lib Dems Overseas and LIBG members about their hopes to reach an inclusive political settlement acceptable to the Afghan people.

The blame game can be shared out amongst all those on the losing side: The Afghan government for its gross corruption that siphoned off hundreds of millions that would have otherwise – if wisely spent – helped those whose poverty and ignorance have provided fertile recruiting ground for the Taliban; the Biden administration that lamely followed the disastrous US policy of speedy non-conditions-based withdrawal by the Trump administration which included the criminal act of arm-twisting the Afghan government to release 5,000 seasoned Taliban fighters from prison (including the insurgency leader who then led the Taliban assault on Herat city); and the international community for pouring billions into the country’s coffers while not tackling corruption properly and wanting to believe too much what it was being told. And much more of course.

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