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Monday, 21 February 2011

Events beyond satire in the Middle East

Tom Lehrer famously said that he could no longer be a satirist in a world in which Henry Kissinger could be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; such a world was already too satirical to be further satirised. The same is surely true of a world in which Libya has a Justice Minister in the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, and now he resigns - now, not during the many years of torture and repression that went before, but now, when his boss is reportedly on a plane to join his friend and fellow tyrant Hugo Chavez in Venezeula (and I wonder what Hugo's other best friend, Ken Livingstone, has to say about that?). Libya's UN delegation, meanwhile, has gone on the BBC to proclaim that it does not represent Colonel Gaddafi, but instead represents the Libyan people - like hell it does. Talk about shutting the unstable door after the dictator's bolted. I may be doing them an injustice, of course; after all, Denis Worrall, South Africa's ambassador to the UK in the 1980s, appeared to be an apologist for apartheid until he resigned and stood for South Africa's Parliament as a pro-reform liberal - maybe some Libyan diplomats (and even the Justice Minister) are in a similar position to that of Mr Worrall? Yesterday's Observer had Libya on its front page - I wonder when that paper last led its front page with a story about internal repression in an Arab state? It's probably been decades, given the blind eye that the world has chosen to turn towards the dictatorial regimes that dominate the Middle East.

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