A Coptic clergyman shows a picture of one of the men murdered by Islamic State (Photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/Getty)

Islamic State will flourish if the West picks sides in Libya

18 February 2015 10:34

Conventional wisdom suggests that Islamic State and its affiliates have mastered social media. Yet the group’s real talent lies in dominating the traditional media cycle and using sensational violence to goad its enemies… Continue reading

(Video: the RSA/YouTube)

Jonathan Powell interview: middle-man to the terrorists says ‘secret talks are necessary’

11 October 2014 19:50

Jonathan Powell is a British diplomat who served as Tony Blair’s chief of staff from 1997 to 2007. During this period, he was also Britain’s chief negotiator for Northern Ireland.… Continue reading

Aid arrives in the Kurdish city of Erbil. Image: Getty

It’s time we contemplated the possibility of a post-conflict Kurdistan

21 August 2014 15:56

There’s a  curious aspect to the debate – or what passes for it – about Britain getting involved in military action against the Islamic State. Isabel Hardman put her finger… Continue reading

Smoke billows near Tripoli's international airport (Photo: Getty)

Libya is imploding. Why doesn’t Cameron care?

27 July 2014 4:23

The US has said it has temporarily evacuated its staff from the Libyan capital Tripoli over security concerns. Earlier this year Mary Wakefield discussed in The Spectator how David Cameron… Continue reading

Libya has been rocked by weeks of unrest. But is the country really in danger of falling into civil war? (ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Does Libya need a lesson in devolved government?

24 November 2013 11:00

Recent news from Libya has not inspired confidence. Terrorism, riots, murder, a temporarily kidnapped prime minster, oil stuck at export terminals – it’s a dispiriting litany of apparently unconnected events.… Continue reading

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Libya’s PM, Ali Zeidan, has been kidnapped

10 October 2013 6:49

A few weeks ago the Prime Minister of the liberated Libya, Ali Zeidan was sitting in 10 Downing St talking to David Cameron. A few hours ago he was kidnapped,… Continue reading

Policemen walk away from the cockpit of

Lockerbie Novel: It Was Iran, Not Libya - Spectator Blogs

5 February 2013 12:32

From a very entertaining New York Times profile of Gerard de Villiers, the French novelist who, though little known in this country, is seemingly better connected in the spy world… Continue reading

Tony Blair meets with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on May 29, 2007. Contrary to what Ethan Chorin argues in a new book, western engagement hastened Gaddafi's downfall. Image: Getty

Engagement in Libya was and remains the right answer

31 January 2013 9:00

In 2008, I packed my bags to head off to Tripoli, where I began my current vocation of advocating for Western diplomatic, economic, cultural, and humanitarian engagement in Libya. Ethan Chorin was… Continue reading

Tongolese troops being deployed to Mali Image: Getty

Mali could be the gamble that defines Hollande’s presidency

17 January 2013 18:16

The crisis in Mali is yet another unintended consequence of the Arab Spring. Specifically, they are a result of the revolution in Libya, where Tuareg rebels who supported Gaddafi were forced… Continue reading

The hopeful phrase 'Arab Spring' cannot mask the march of intolerance across the Middle East or the fact that power rests with armed gangs. Image: Getty

‘Arab Spring’ is a misnomer

12 October 2012 16:58

What do you do when confronted with a prejudice so strong it takes your breath away? In my case, I did what was immediately necessary. I took a deep breath… Continue reading

The Muslim-majority world rocks to 1,000 conspiracy theories about the power of the US government. Washington should not fulfil the stereotype. Image: Getty.

General Dempsey’s disastrous intervention

13 September 2012 16:35

When the Danish Cartoons affair broke in 2005-6 there was considerable pressure on the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to issue a condemnation and apology. Demonstrating considerable statesmanship he… Continue reading

The Roman amphitheatre of Sabratha, some 67 kms west of the Libyan capital.

Why a rough guide is better than none

16 August 2012 14:40

Like the most desperate of priests, and the most marginal of activists, Nick Cohen wants us all to be like him. He’s an angry journalist who can’t imagine why everyone… Continue reading


When spring doesn’t turn into summer

29 May 2012 10:07

A high-ranking member of Hosni Mubarak’s disgraced government, or someone from the Muslim Brotherhood? It’s hardly an enviable choice — but that is the choice facing Egypt in next month’s… Continue reading


War Games: Syria & Iran Edition

15 March 2012 16:06

The past is always a different, better place and never more so than when commentators dip into American history to salvage some justification for their favoured approach to any contemporary… Continue reading


The Syria delusion

1 March 2012 16:44

Things certainly seem to be coming to a head in Syria, with today’s news that Assad’s forces have launched a ground assault on Homs, forcing the rebels to withdraw, and… Continue reading


Lockerbie: Megrahi Publishes His Defence

27 February 2012 17:10

The Lockerbie case is back in the news with the publication of Megrahi: You Are My Jury by John Ashton, a member of Abdelbaset ali al-Megrahi’s defence team. That Megrahi… Continue reading


Making a call on Qatada

9 February 2012 13:33

The Prime Minister, we are told, has been trying to reach the King of Jordan to see if some kind of arrangement can be made so that Abu Qatada can… Continue reading


Brits sceptical of Syria intervention

8 February 2012 17:09

Britain’s response to Syria so far has been uncertain and cautious. A YouGov poll today suggests that the public is keen for this hands-off approach to continue. When presented several… Continue reading


A Syrian Srebrenica?

4 February 2012 12:36

Every day things are getting worse in Syria. Today the Syrian regime started what looks like an all-out assault on the key city of Homs, reportedly killing at least 55… Continue reading


Libya still hasn’t found peace

4 January 2012 19:23

Guns blazing, Libya’s various militias are showing little sign of laying down their arms and giving authority to the Libyan state. Even Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional… Continue reading


What didn’t happen in 2011

27 December 2011 15:29

In the run-up to every New Year, newspapers and the blogosphere are full of articles about what happened in the year just gone. 2011 was a particularly eventful year so… Continue reading


Woolf tucks into perfidious Albion

1 December 2011 18:02

Yesterday night’s news that a senior FCO official lobbied Oxford University on behalf of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi adds more ordure to the already fetid story of Britain’s role in Colonel Gaddafi’s… Continue reading


Paying for justice

23 November 2011 19:39

To British ministers, the role that the International Criminal Court played over Libya was key – it made clear that Colonel Gaddafi’s actions were unacceptable and would be subject to… Continue reading


Now will we learn the truth about Saif’s British ties?

20 November 2011 11:00

Now that Saif Gaddafi has been captured, the race will be on to interview him from a prison cell and ask what his business was with the various figures of… Continue reading


Saif Gaddafi captured — but what now?

19 November 2011 18:14

Remember when Saif Gaddafi was the Anointed One of those who wanted a freer, more liberal Libya? Now, he’s at the mercy of militiamen in the city of Zintan, having… Continue reading