Category Archives: Europe / International

Anything to do with European / international issues

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.

Also posted in News and TV and film | Tagged | 1 Comment

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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Nicaraguan liberals forcibly disbanded by Ortega regime

Liberals across the world have condemned events in Nicaragua, as the government have dissolved the main opposition party, Ciudadanos por la Libertad (Citizens for Freedom), and stripped its leader, Kitty Monterrey, of her Nicaraguan citizenship.

In a joint statement, Liberal International and its regional grouping RELIAL (Red Liberal de América Latina) have said;

Democrats and human rights defenders around the world are outraged that, on Friday 6 August, the regime of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua has dissolved the main opposition party, Citizens for Freedom, and stripped its leader, Liberal International Vice President Kitty Monterrey, of her Nicaraguan citizenship.

These are the actions of

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Conference to confirm our internationalism

For years now committed internationalists in the party have complained that our reputation for internationalism is fading and that parish pump politics has taken over. Worries are being expressed that we could lose that internationalist core vote that has identified with us for decades. Despite serial attempts at proposing emergency motions on international crises to conference, these have repeatedly fallen way behind domestic issues in the ballot and not received a debate. Similarly droves of new members who joined us as pro-Europeans to fight Brexit have not seen their key issue high enough up the agenda. The good news is that change is on the way.

At Spring Conference our Europe motion which restated our long-term aim of getting back to the centre of Europe kicked off a new international focus. Working with our European allies is fundamental to the UK reclaiming a meaningful international presence. Autumn Conference this year will see several international themes on the agenda, as well as starting a series of detailed motions to give us a road map to the closest possible relationship with the EU, and eventual membership.

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How much do we still want a rules-based international order?

At the end of the recent G7 meeting, participants declared their commitment to ‘democracy, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights’. How many had fingers crossed behind their backs? Boris Johnson for one, but probably others, spared their own blushes by the blatant fraudulence of their host regarding Northern Ireland.

But it is not just Northern Ireland. Last week his government declined its obligations under Common Article 1 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, ‘to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances’. After Israel’s recent punitive and extensive destruction of life and property in the Gaza Strip, the UK rightly rebuked Hamas for its undoubted war crimes but declined to rebuke Israel, essentially because it is ‘an important strategic partner for the UK’. To our shame, we pick and choose. Currently, the UK defies the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea regarding the Chagos Islands, which in January ruled that the UK has no sovereignty, confirming the same conclusion by the International Court of Justice in February 2019. Of course, the UK should have recognised the human rights of the Chagossians at the outset in 1965, or when challenged in the ensuing decades. Persistent failure to do so constitutes a crime against humanity. I feel sullied and I expect you do too.

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ALDE Party Congress online or, how to juggle four screens and a print-out

At the weekend we met with old friends and new from our European sister parties for ALDE Congress, albeit via a Zoom link, as the Congress was online for the first time. It was my privilege to lead a diverse Lib Dem delegation of around forty, which in addition to the official categories for diversity, included several UK nationals resident in the EU and a few EU citizens resident in the UK.

Ahead of the Congress we had met to propose amendments and again to discuss the amendments tabled by other delegations. These are negotiated in the “Working Groups”, which usually take place onsite at the beginning of Congress. Online they were held several days in advance of Congress and a high proportion of delegates were unavailable. Some were unaware that this was the real forum for debate. The procedure is not unlike the European Parliament Committee stage where the political groups negotiate compromise amendments. At the final plenary voting session there is no debate and delegations work to voting lists.

The Working Groups did not go to plan, as the scheduled sessions of two and a half hours each ran to six and five hours respectively. Even delegates who started the sessions were often not there by the end. I was sat with original text on one screen, amendments on another, proceedings on my iPad, delegation WhatsApp and the voting platform both on my iPhone plus a print-out of our voting line.

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Change of Guard in Tel Aviv – what hopes for peace?

It’s a momentous day because Netanyahu has been voted out of office and like his predecessor Ehud Olmert now faces the prospect of jail and so will hopefully disappear. He leaves power as Prime Ministers often do because he lost. But as Anshel Pfeffer in today’s edition of Ha’aretz points out, he is overall a winner.

The man who was written off so many times as a passing and inconsequential politician, even after his first term as prime minister in the 1990s, became Israel’s longest-serving leader – even longer than the founder, David Ben-Gurion. Someone who managed to hold onto power for 15 years didn’t lose, even if he was forced out at the end.

According to Pfeffer all previous Israeli Prime Ministers thought that the problems between Israel and Palestine had to somehow be solved, otherwise the rest of the world wouldn’t leave them alone.

(Netanyahu) ..was the first to recognize the fatigue of world leaders, as well as that of Arab dictators, over the Palestinian issue. As a ruthless pragmatist, he correctly assessed that as time passed, his fellow statesmen would prefer economic and security ties with Israel, and that the Palestinians had nothing to offer.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine – Biden has changed the narrative

Writing in the Scotsman as the G7 summit takes place in St Ives, Christine Jardine breathes a sigh of relief that we have a grown-up in the White House again and looks at how Joe Biden has been a good friend to the UK. Sometimes, she says, your best friends tell you the truth.

She compared this summit to the Atlantic Charter, Churchill and Roosevelt’s vision for the post war world:

Eighty years later, Biden referenced that moment as he cast the other leaders in his shadow to declare that the United States will donate half a billion dozes of Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle income countries.

“America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19, just as America was the arsenal of democracy during World War Two”, he promised.

This was the statement of intent that the world needed.

A commitment from a US President to those who had begun to doubt his country’s engagement with foreign affairs. Leadership.

The UK and others have made similar vaccine commitments but this was America’s moment to step forward and begin to lay the foundations of a post-Covid international order.

Christine also sees hope in the fact that we now have Joe Biden in power after four years of someone who inspired contempt, protests and blimps.

America got rid of Trump, and maybe we can get rid of our equivalent:

Three years ago, every utterance of the then President brought fresh waves of disillusionment bordering on despair.

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ALDE Party eCouncil – a comfortable seat, a nice cup of tea and a cast of hundreds…

Friday morning and, for those of us that aren’t naturally early risers, the hour time difference between Brussels, the nerve centre of the ALDE Party, and the United Kingdom was the cause of a slightly hurried morning routine for your correspondent.

First, there was a rather sad piece of business, as the Congress was asked to make a decision on how to proceed following the sad demise of Party President Hans van Baalen. There had been some consultation as to whether or not a by-election should take place to fill the vacancy, amidst rumours that a candidate was already “working the room”, and our delegation had concluded, having read the Statutes, that it should wait until the regular Autumn Congress, on the basis that the post would have been up for election then anyway.

We apparently weren’t alone, as Congress voted pretty overwhelmingly to postpone, leaving the senior Vice Presidents, Senator Timmy Dooley from Fianna Fáil and Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP from the Bulgarian Movement for Rights and Freedom, to act as joint President for the time being.

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United with Belarus

I come originally from the South-East part of Poland. I was 10 when the Berlin Wall collapsed and I must admit that I didn’t grasp the importance of these historical events, for my native country as well as the whole of Europe. I discovered its significance later on.

In the last couple of weeks, I was reflecting on the journey of each one of the countries behind the “Iron Curtain”. Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic – they all did well and it is clear that a massive democratic transformation served them and their residents well.

However, there is one country, also a former Soviet Union republic, which has been struggling since 1990’s and which brought international attention for all the wrong reasons. Plane hijacked, which simply equals an act of terrorism, imprisonment of opposition leaders or ordinary members of the public, often as young as 14-15 year olds, lack of free speech, economical progress and recovery or inability to peaceful demonstrations; the list goes on. While completing my Master’s Degree in History, I had an opportunity to meet many people from Belarus, who were studying in my home town, Lublin. I often wonder in these situations whether there is anything I should be doing to help. But what, and more importantly how could I do that?

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Webinar: will the tragedy of Afghanistan become Europe’s tragedy?

If peace negotiations collapse and the Taliban take power in Afghanistan, the UK and Europe may well be faced again with another wave of mass migration (are we really going to turn away women and their families at deadly risk from the Taliban?), a strengthened base for the export of terrorism (Taliban have not broken links with Al Qaeda, CIA reckons even US at risk again within three years) and continued supply of opium to European youth from the largest producer in the world.

Dr Abdullah Abdullah, a figure well-known in the UK who is the Afghan Government’s chief negotiator for the intra-Afghan peace talks with the Taliban and former Chief Executive Officer of the Unity Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2014-2020) will be addressing UK Liberal Democrats on the latest state of play 18.30-20.00hrs this Monday 7th June. You are encouraged to register for this LIBG/Lib Dems Overseas event at the Paddy Ashdown Forum.

Dr Abdullah Abdullah will be joined by members of the Afghan Civic Democrats, a parliamentary grouping in the Wolesi Jirga (lower house), with whom Lib Dems Overseas have a strong association, as well as the Head of Office from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, direct from Kandahar/Helmand province. The Lib Dems response will be given by Baroness Northover, our Foreign Affairs spokesperson in the Lords.

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Roman Protasevich abduction – time for Britain to act?

The criminal hijacking of a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius, with a Belarussian anti-government activist on board has led to calls from across Europe and beyond for firm action to be taken against the Belarus Government led by Alexander Lukashenko, whose agents advised the flight crew that there was a bomb onboard, and then seized Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, whilst the plane was on the ground in Minsk.

Layla Moran was quick to call upon Dominic Raab to respond;

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe, in advance of today’s European Council meeting, demanded;

  • The immediate release

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Interested in attending the Congress of European Liberals in two weeks time? Then read on…

The 41st ALDE Party Congress, will take place from 11-12 June 2021 online.

Preliminary information about the programme, political deadlines, venues and logistics is available on the ALDE Party website.

The UK Liberal Democrats are currently the second largest voting bloc in the ALDE Party. The Congress is the largest event of the year for ALDE and it is a policy-making event, with policy motions submitted by member parties for debate and voted on during the Congress. The ALDE Party Congress is the biggest annual event gathering Liberals across Europe with;

  • Over 650 members of Liberal parties from around the continent,
  • Top politicians including Prime Ministers, European Commissioners, Ministers, Members of the European and national Parliaments, Members of the Committee of the Regions, and many other delegates,
  • European visibility, acknowledging the role of the supporting party within a European and not only a national political context,
  • Topical debates, high level speeches and policy discussions,
  • Plenty of Networking opportunities.
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Tom Arms’ World Review: Palestine, Trump, Morocco v Spain and China

At last a ceasefire. But not until acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reduced Hamas’s rocket manufacturing capability to a pile of smouldering twisted metal and brick dust. Hamas had tried smuggling ground to air missiles into Gaza through tunnels from Egypt. But they were too easily discovered and closed by the opposition. So they turned to Iranian expertise to develop a home-grown defence manufacturing industry. It worked. At the start of this latest spat, there were thousands of missiles launched from sites dotted around Gaza with ranges of between six and 120 miles. Netanyahu had to react quickly because of the ever-present threat that the conflict could rapidly escalate. Iran could join in from bases in Lebanon and Syria. The US would then be obliged to come to the aid of Israel. What would Russia do? How about Turkey? The Arab countries….? In fact, four rockets were fired from southern Lebanon, and they appear to have been a factor in Israel’s decision to cave into the growing international chorus for a ceasefire. But a military truce is only a tiny step towards resolving the underlying problems. That can only come with the implementation of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords and the implicit two-state solution. These were shelved in favour of Israeli hegemony by increasingly right-wing Likud governments which was emboldened most recently by the unquestioning support of Donald Trump. During this most recent clash Joe Biden has taken the traditional pro-Israeli line (“Israel has the right to defend itself”), but changing American demographics and a growing pro-Palestinian faction in the Democratic Party is shifting political parameters. It is also further polarising the parties with the Republicans embracing Trump’s sycophantic pro-Israeli position and the Democrats starting to question it.

The news that New York has moved their investigation of the Trump Organisation from a civil to a criminal case is no shock horror story. Falsely manipulating property values to obtain loans and tax breaks—as the Trump Organisation is alleged to have done—is fraud, which is a criminal offense. The bigger question is what effect will this have on the ex-president’s political future. It could go either way. True to form, Donald Trump was quick to brand the switch from the civil to criminal legal system as part of a Democrat-organised “witch hunt” which puts it alongside the Mueller Inquiry, double impeachment and election “Big Lie”. At last count 70% of Republicans believe him and the handful of Republican Congressmen and Senators prepared to oppose the ex-president are losing their jobs and being booed on the floor of the house by their party colleagues. But New York’s actions have moved the future of Donald Trump out of the political arena and into the courtroom. The fight now is not between Republicans and Democrats in Congress but between Trumpists and the independent judiciary, or Trump v. the constitution.

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