Monday, December 18, 2006

Middle East: getting worse and just beginning

David Seaton's News Links
Tony Blair is making his umpteenth trip to the Middle East, joining this endless stream of "leaders" who appear deus ex machina to be photographed shaking hands with the local "leaders" and recorded making encouraging noises. It reminds me of hospital visits to a dying relative who keeps getting thinner and thinner, while everyone gets more and more cheerful and 'positive'. It might be better if all these "leaders" were silent for awhile and everyone meditated on the size and intractable complexity of the tragedy that has been set in motion. The only way this universal pustulence, born in cupidity and greed, will ever begin to heal is if the United States and the former colonial powers, France, Turkey and Britain, all begin by admitting their failure and assume their responsibility for it... Confession, penitence and restitution. DS
Ending illusions - Leader - Guardian
Abstract: It speaks volumes about the dire state of the Middle East that a foreign head of government visiting Iraq dare not stray beyond the heavily fortified "green zone" in central Baghdad and that the entire Gaza Strip - the centre of the region's latest escalating crisis - is now strictly out of bounds on security grounds. Tony Blair's pledge that British troops will stay in Iraq "until the job is done" had an unreal air as he stood by Nuri al-Maliki yesterday with the disastrous mayhem of daily life - mass kidnappings, bombings and shootings - continuing unabated, with "terrorists fighting democracy" in Mr Blair's words. Flying on to Jerusalem, the prime minister took with him another unshakeable belief - that he can help find a way out of the deadly impasse in which Palestinians and Israelis are so dangerously trapped. Mr Blair is right to want to help. The world's most intractable conflict is too volatile to be left alone even if few Arabs believe he is qualified to act as an honest broker. Not only is he George Bush's sole significant ally in Iraq but he also delayed attempts to secure a ceasefire as Israel went on the offensive in Lebanon during the summer war against Hizbullah. The phrase "perfidious Albion" may have gone out of fashion, but the sentiment is alive and well. And the phrase "kick-start" beloved of Whitehall briefings about reviving the peace process seems spectacularly inappropriate - in the sense that kicking a corpse can achieve little. READ IT ALL

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