This report, prepared by Mark Thomson, gives interested readers greater access to the complex workings of the Defence Budget and promotes informed debate on Defence budget issues. This year’s budget shows that the implementation of the government’s 2009 Defence White Paper is continuing to fall behind schedule.
The government needs to get its plans for Defence back on track. The future investment program needs to be brought in line with what can feasibly be achieved over the next few years, and steps need be taken to improve Defence’s understanding of its budget.
The time has come to abandon the promise of 3% real growth in defence spending and instead fund Defence on the basis of what they can realistically and sensibly spend.
Beyond the battle for the towns and cities of Libya, there is another battle raging over the legacy of Sidi Omar al-Mukhtar, Libya’s “Lion of the Desert.” The symbol of Libyan nationalism and pride, the inheritance of this stalwart of the Islamic and anti-colonial struggle against Italian fascism has been cited as the inspiration of both the Qaddafi regime and the rebels who oppose it. Al-Mukhtar’s heritage is also cited by the foreign Islamists who would seek to influence events in Libya.
Omar al-Mukhtar and the Roman Riconquista
An Islamic scholar turned guerrilla fighter, Omar al-Mukhtar was a member of the Minifa, a tribe of Arabized Berbers. Educated in the schools of the powerful Sanusi Sufi order, al-Mukhtar joined the Sanusi resistance to the Italian invasion of Libya in 1911. Unable to control little more than the coastal strip, the Italians turned to a series of treaties in an effort to expand their presence in the interior. These accords were abrogated when the fascists came to power in Italy in 1922. In the following year Mussolini’s forces embarked on the riconquista, the ruthless “reconquest” of the ancient Roman colonies of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. Drawing on his experience fighting both Italians and British under Sayyid Ahmad al-Sharif al-Sanusi, al-Mukhtar organized the armed resistance in Cyrenaica and launched an eight year campaign against Italian rule using the slogan “We will win or die!” Combining lightning raids and widespread popular support, al-Mukhtar was soon in control of what Libyans referred to as “the nocturnal government.” Continue reading →
Tandis que le sang continue de couler en Libye, où le régime n’hésite
pas à utiliser l’aviation contre son peuple, l’ampleur de ce qui se
passe en Afrique du Nord depuis quelques semaines laisse l’Europe
désemparée. Il est vrai que personne n’avait vu venir le
bouleversement géostratégique qui s’y dessine. Se berçant d’illusions
sur l’incapacité de ces peuples à prendre leurs destins en main, sur
la nécessité d’un leadership fort pour assurer leur développement, les
pays occidentaux ont tout accepté de ces potentats d’un autre âge, des
frasques des fils Kadhafi aux réceptions soignées dans la plupart de
nos palais gouvernementaux. Continue reading →
The European Union has agreed to send a gendarmerie force to Haiti in order to help maintain order following the devastating earthquake that shook the country on 12 January. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, meeting today in Brussels, also agreed to create a coordination cell in order to exchange information about the civil and military resources contributed by the member states. This cell, to be named EUCO-Haiti, will be based in Brussels and Haiti.
The gendarmerie force will total around 300 people, most of them from countries with militarised police forces, and will operate under the European flag, according to the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Ángel Moratinos. The decision came in response to a request from the UN to strengthen its mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Some of the troops are already on their way.
The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Catherine Ashton, said at the end of the meeting she had chaired, that the EU will work to finalise a short, medium and long-term plan to help the Haitian authorities rebuild the country, and would send a reconnaissance mission for the purpose. Continue reading →