Another busy week passes in the world of British foreign policy. While the horsemeat fiasco, the Pistorius craziness and the meteor distracted much of the worlds media and citizenry the Ministry of Defence announced that it was sending a Royal Navy warship to Libya in April to act as a “floating shop window” for security companies to exhibit their wares for the Libyan defence forces. Not that the intervention in Libya had anything to do with the arms industry or the natural resources of the country. Many Libyans are happy to see the back of Gaddafi and are fans of the western powers who were key in seeing this happen, as shown by the overwhelming reaction against the militant attack on the US embassy in Bengazi in September 2012. Yet all that is gold does not glitter. The Libyan government and its people must be careful to guard aginst an overbearing relationship between them and the gift-bearing western powers .
Meanwhile the fallout from the “well-founded assumption” (what the hell does that even mean?) from the Bulgarian security services that it was indeed Hezbollah who carried out the bomb attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas last year, continued. The EU refuses to class the organisation as a terrorist one apart from the Netherlands and the UK who class the military wing of Hezbollah as terrorists, rightly distinguishing the nuances within the group. some have disputed that this use of nuance is possible with Hezbollah. Quite clearly though Hezbollah has many facets to it. It is a social organisation, a religious organisation, a self-defence force and also has been implicated in terrorist attacks, i.e. attacks on civilians, which pretty much any military force in the world can be rightly accused of, including the Israel Defense Forces. I understand the UK governments insistence on labelling the military wing as a terrorist force but it should, along with the rest of the EU, resist Israeli and US pressure to classify the whole organisation as a terrorist entity. Why? Because it would be counter-productive for Lebanese society. The balance of forces in Lebanon is on a knife-edge at the best of times, especially at this time due to the overlapping turmoil in neighbouring Syria which has been for many years, for better but mostly worse, a major player in Lebanon. Any outside pressure on Hezbollah could lead to a reaction within Lebanon that could create a bigger political crisis. Lebanon has since it was created been a battleground for the bigger nations of the region and their backers. Hezbollah in being allied to Iran and the Syrian regime is an obvious target of western and Israeli bile (in the later mainly for their continued successful resistance to Israeli attempts to dominate the country). For once it would be nice for the Lebanese people to be taken account of and it understood that Hezbollah is a genuine political force in the country representing the Shiite community and a major force within the power-sharing government.
Now despite rumours to the contrary the Little Man does not just bash on his keyboard from his bedroom. Prepare for some roving accounts from Jack Goodman as he traverses the rich geographical and human terrain of Burma. I for one cannot wait to read what he sends back.
By Jonathan Woodrow Martin