Tom Arms’ World Review


As the World Cup draws to a close, host nation Qatar is being implicated in yet another scandal. This one involves allegedly bribing key figures in the European Parliament.

It is widely accepted that super-rich Qatar secured the World Cup with cash payments to FIFA board members. Now it is alleged that they tried to obtain preferential visa treatment for their citizens with a few selected bribes. The main target of the Qataris is alleged to be European Parliament Vice President Eva Kalli. She has been arrested on charges of money laundering, corruption and belonging to a criminal organisation. The Greek MEP has denied all charges but has been stripped of her vice-presidency and her assets have been frozen. She remains, however, an MEP.

Qatar’s representation to the EU issued a statement “categorically” rejecting “any attempts to associate the State of Qatar” with the scandal. The European Parliament thinks otherwise and has postponed indefinitely the vote that would have allowed Qatari citizens to be issued with automatic three-month visas on arrival at EU airports. The problem with the Qataris is that they have form and money to splash out. Their and oil gas-fed Sovereign Wealth Fund guarantees a per capita income of $61,276.


One of the main aims of Western sanctions against Russia is to deprive Moscow of technology needed for Putin’s military machine. This is especially the case with advanced semi-conductors, aka computer chips.

According to the US Department of Commerce, the sanctions have resulted in a 70 percent reduction in Russian imports of this vital technology. Not so says Reuters News Agency and the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). If anything, they claim, Russia is receiving more computer chips and other advanced technology than ever before. In April, according to Reuters and RUSI, Russia recorded received $34 million in advanced technology from Western companies. In October 2022 the figure rose to $87.96 million.

Overall, at least $2.6 billion in advanced technology from US and European companies has ended up in Russia since the start of the Ukraine War. They include equipment from Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices and Texas Instruments. There is no question of these companies selling their goods directly to Russia. The equipment is being bought by middlemen based mainly in Turkey and Hong Kong who are then marking up the price and selling the technology to Russia. One company, Azu Industries, which has offices in Germany and Turkey, is alleged to have profited to the tune of $26 million since the start of the war.

India and China

Back in colonial times -July 1914 to be precise – British diplomats sat down with Tibetan diplomats to negotiate the border between India and Tibet (also known as the Line of Actual Control or LAC). Also present was a Chinese diplomat who stormed out of the meeting after protesting that Tibet had no right to negotiate any treaties because it was part of China.

It is this Chinese refusal to recognise the 1914 Simla Treaty that lies at the heart of the disputed Sino-Indian border which bedevils relations between the two Asian giants. Since Indian independence the two countries have repeatedly clashed.

In 1962 there was a war in which, according to Indian sources 1,638 Indian soldiers were killed and 4,987 member of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were killed or wounded. There have been innumerable clashes of varying intensity since then. The latest was last week near Tawang in Northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

According to the Indian military, there are three sectors that are under threat from the PLA. The Eastern Sector where Arunachal Pradesh is located; the Western Sector which is dominated by the Ladakh region of Kashmir; and the Middle Sector which borders the Indian states of Himarchal Pradesh and Uttarkhanad. The politics of the Western sector are complicated by the Kashmir issue and an arrangement between China and Pakistan.  In the centre, the border is interrupted by the buffer states of Nepal and Bhutan.

All the disputed areas are sparsely populated high altitude wastelands. There are few minerals and very little worthwhile agricultural land. Contiguous to the borders, however, are the headwaters of almost all the important rivers that feed into both India and China. But perhaps most importantly, from the Indian point of view, the LAC in the east is seen as the gateway to seven Indian states linked to the rest of the country by a difficult to defend narrow strip of land known as the “chicken neck”. If the Chinese gain control of this region, say Indian sources, then Bangladesh and the commercial hub of Calcutta lies at their feet.

In the west The Chinese – along with Pakistan – threaten Indian control of disputed Kashmir. The Chinese worry about Indian influence in troubled Tibet and Xinjiang Province. More importantly, the LAC has become the geographic flashpoint between two nuclear-armed, economically powerful, highly populous countries that are becoming the dominant powers of the 21st century.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopedia of the War” and the recently published “America Made in Britain". He has a weekly podcast, Transatlantic Riff.

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  • This one involves allegedly bribing key figures in the European Parliament.

    Just the “tip of the iceberg”…

    ‘Could this corruption scandal signal the end of the EU?’ [currently free to read]:

    …there is a widespread acceptance that the European Parliament has earned a reputation as a place where cash bribes can be offered and will be accepted.

    Michiel van Hulten, director of Transparency International EU, blames a “culture of impunity”, with which he has been familiar ever since his own days as an MEP in the 1990s. […]

    Alberto Alemanno, professor of EU law at the HEC business school in Paris and founder of the transparency campaign The Good Lobby, says the Parliament had become “fertile soil” for corruption for reasons that have always been obvious.

    “The root cause of Qatargate has to do with the limited accountability of an institution which is not visible to the average citizen,” he says. “It is also related to the mediocrity of most of the MEPs – they are second, third, fourth tier national politicians who have been sent to Brussels.” […]

    Robert Barrington, Professor of Anti-Corruption Practice at the University of Sussex’s Centre for the Study of Corruption, says the culture and reputation of EU institutions has invited approaches from corrupt powers. 

    “There is clearly an expectation that you can turn up to the Parliament with a suitcase full of money and buy somebody,” he says.

    Thankfully, we are (mostly) out of the wretched organisation.

  • Barry Lofty 19th Dec '22 - 9:21am

    “Thankfully, we are (mostly) out of the wretched organisation “ Now all we have to worry about is the corruption that is rife in our own country and the country’s we seek to trade with?

  • Katharine Pindar 22nd Dec '22 - 8:48pm

    Tom, could you also please turn your attention to Afghanistan? This is not only because we hear of desperate struggles from former workers for the British still sadly unable to gain permission and help to escape the country and come here. But now we learn for certainty of the Taliban depriving girls of the right to secondary education and of young women suddenly barred from attending the university courses they had been accepted for. The subjection of women in the country is reverting to the former regime’s policy. Yet surely the West has some economic power to influence the present government? Can our party take up this vital cause for women in the country?

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