Sunday, January 03, 2010

Written in Sand

It occurs to me that Britain's' future security won't so much be determined by what happens on the playing fields of Eton rather than the mountains of Yemen.

I was invited to the country five years ago by the UN to speak at a conference in the capital, Sana'a. I really wanted to visit as this is one part of the Arab world that I have yet to set foot in but with it being a hotbed for Islamic terrorist groups, I decided to give the British Ambassador a call for her opinion on whether it was a safe choice of destination. As she only ventured out in the company of an armoured Range Rover and a handful of Special Forces bodyguards, her answer was quite unequivocal. So I asked the UN if they were able to guarantee my personal safety and the reply was an equally unequivocal 'No', so I politely declined the invitation.

In the week that saw the release of IT consultant Peter Moore, from long captivity in Iraq as well, I'm rather glad that I didn't take-up the offer of a visit to Baghdad either. I think I learned my lesson many years ago when the DHL aircraft carrying all my belongings back from Saudi Arabia, stopped in Beirut and never took-off again; the Israeli army choosing that moment to invade the country. However, once again, I'm left with the thought that we are pursuing an unwinnable war in Afghanistan while Islamic terrorism breeds unhindered in Somalia and Yemen.

Yesterday, I saw on the news that the heroin harvest from Afghanistan has also reached new records, with the Russians politely pointing out that under their occupation of the country; it was a fraction of what it is today. The Soviets reportedly had a zero-tolerance policy on the opium poppy production which funds terrorism and crime in the country and simply 'bumped-off' the warlords engaged in the trade. In contrast, Western governments appear to be attempting to persuade the Afghans, that drug production is a very bad idea and try to buy them off instead. The Afghans, being a pragmatic people, think this is, in turn, a jolly good idea and simply keep the dollars and continue growing the opium poppies that you see our troops wading through on news reports from the green zone.

But none of this is new, as a nation we've been here before and simply forgotten the lessons of history in both Afghanistan and Iraq. T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) in his "Report on Mesopotamia" for The Sunday Times (22 August 1920) wrote:

"The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, and incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from a disaster."

What Lawrence wrote then echoes through the pages of history and serves as a reminder of where we find ourselves today, short of money, manpower, equipment, policy and above all, solutions to a problem that now has us by the throat and not the other way around..

1 comment:

malc said...

Your note on the middle east is interesting.
I do not understand however why those with knowledge and influence decline to focus on addressing the fundamental source of the terrorism facing the Western world i.e. the Israel/Palestine situation.
USA has to understand that while they blindly prop up the Israeli government with enormous, and privileged, aid the Israelis will not seriously focus on the need to finally sort the Palestine issue. They cannot really think that the Palestinians should be eliminated so what is their real offer to them?

My un-educated contribution is :-
§ that Gaza long-term is untenable so that goes back to Israel
§ Palestine gets a single contiguous territory
§ Ditto Israel
§ Maybe those entities and Lebanon should become a federation with joint security?
§ Palestine has to include Bethlehem and most of the West Bank.
§ It is possible that the Jerusalem issue could be resolved by extending its boundary East so that a new capital for Palestine could be built there, which they could call East Jerusalem, but in reality only included a small token part of the existing East Jerusalem area.
§ 100% of Israeli settlements go from wherever the new Palestinian territory is unless they negotiate directly with the new powers to stay on agreed voluntary terms
§ Also they will need to include some deal on Jordan Water.
§ The deal should be drafted initially by some guys from Europe just getting on with it by 30.6.10. it should then be put to both sides as a serious comprise that they must focus on and not mess about. USA should be at a high level in the talks and stamping on Israel every time they start their stupid games.
§ Obviously the talks have no pre-conditions of “we won’t come unless abc happens first”, because it won’t so just swallow your pride grow up and get on with it etc..

While the West/USA fails to address this matter the Taliban/Al Qaida/Uncle Tom Cobbley can use this issue as their rallying call to the ‘faithful’ to support them. Broadly this was what happened for 20 years+ in N Ireland. Inspiring Moslems around he world to hate Christians really cannot be the way for us to live.