27 January, 2008

Forthcoming Attractions 2008

I know I have not really been posting enough on this blog, and that links to news articles you have already seen is not really advancing the sum total of human knowledge. Writing proper posts on Hunting Monsters is nevertheless always high on my list of things I want to do more of. Just to give you an idea of what is lurking over the horizon for when I get myself organisized, these are some things I intend to write about.

1. Ages ago I started writing about International Relations Theory. I ran aground on this one, but I hope to get started on it again soon, not least because I have not even got to the good theories yet.

2. I also want to return to writing about books on the Middle East. I have already written about two, but I have one more sure-fire winner to add to your reading list. After that I will throw out a few also-rans.

3. My greatest crazy scheme ever is to write very briefly about every piece of coursework I submitted in Spy School. I am not so hubristic as to think that the insights I gained while writing my stupid essays are actually original or anything like that, so it's not like you can expect to have your understanding of the world radically altered by what you read. It might, however, be a useful guide to what people actually do when they study International Relations at the level I have just completed. I will also use the exercise to fix what I have learned in my head, something from which I will derive great utility.

4. At some point I will tidy up all the links from here, and then write about the things I link to. Then you can go and read them.

5. A thing I have had on the backburner for ages is to write something about the crisis in Lebanon. I have been meaning to do this for, I don't know, maybe the last eighteen months. The great thing is that Lebanon has been having the same crisis all that time, with it neither being resolved nor causing the country to blow up. Pretty crazy, I am sure you will agree.

That's it for now.

26 January, 2008


Yes, this is another post about the busting down of the southern wall surrounding the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian authorities have responded to pressure from Israel, the USA, and unspecified members of the shadowy "International Community" by making ineffectual attempts to reseal the border. These attempts have failed, not least because some Palestinian scamps have used a bulldozer to knock more holes in the wall surrounding them.

One interesting thing about this is how the Palestinians have turned the tools of their enemies against them. You can see from the enclosed pictures that the bulldozer used to smash down the wall has been manufactured by Caterpillar. The Caterpillar company is often criticised for supplying the bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes or kill American political activists, but on this occasion its products are serving the interests of the oppressed.

Pictures from BBC articles: In pictures: Gaza border breached & Gazans make new border wall hole

23 January, 2008


I mentioned recently how Gaza lost electricity as Israel cut off fuel supplies to the area's only power station. But then the Israelis relented, and released some fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, while maintaining the general siege. Today, however, the people of Gaza were able to freely cross into Egypt, thanks to Hamas' demolition of large chunks of the wall on the Gaza-Egypt border. Palestinians in Gaza with money were able to buy things for the first time in a while.

Aside from the obvious visual symbolism of walls being torn down, the incident is interesting in terms of the pressures it puts on Middle East players. When Israel withdrew its colonists and ground forces from Gaza, they negotiated a deal with the Egyptians, whereby the latter would guard the Egypt-Gaza border. However, the deal was meant to be that the Egyptians would guard the border to orders from Israel, denying entry and exit as the Israeli state directed. This has largely broken down, partly because the Egyptian regime is unwilling to risk the opprobrium that would result from its putting the boot in on behalf of the Israelis. So, late last year, the Egyptian authorities defied Israel by allowing pilgrims from Gaza to return home after the Hajj. In some respects, though, the Egyptian leaders are making a virtue of necessity. Under the terms of their peace agreement with Israel, they can deploy only limited security forces in the Sinai peninsula; thus they would be very stretched were they to try and crack heads to rebuild the wall.

It will be interesting to see whether the Fatah government of Mahmud Abbas comes under pressure to try similar tactics against the Israeli wall on the West Bank. It is likely that the Israelis would respond to any such attempt with maximum force.

Pictures from Palestinians flood into Egypt (Guardian)

20 January, 2008

Lights Go Out In Gaza City

I've not been posting here that much lately, partly because I am lazy and partly because I have been having Internet problems. Now that I am back online, I have a packed bag of stuff I need to get around to posting here. In the meantime, here is a link to a BBC report on how the Gaza Strip's only power station has just shut down: Gaza City plunged into darkness. Senior officials in the plant report that it has run out of fuel, as a result of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. Despite the blockade, however, Mr Shlomo Dror of the Israeli Defence Ministry asserts that the power station's organisers are closing it down for the laugh, as they have plenty of fuel stocks; in any case, Mr Dror feels that the denial of electricity to the densely populated Gaza Strip does not constitute a humanitarian crisis.

Palestinian militants from various factions have been firing rockets across into Israeli border areas for many months now. The Israeli military has been engaged in a largely ineffectual efforts to prevent this happening. The blockade of Gaza is one of several tactics the Israelis have been pursuing, thus far without any obvious success.