Malcolm Rifkind

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El conflicto de larga data en Yemen está más maduro que nunca para lograr una solución. Los distintos bandos yemeníes han quedado exhaustos por la lucha y aceptaron rápidamente el llamado en marzo de António Guterres, secretario general de las Naciones Unidas, a un alto el fuego mundial por la pandemia de la COVID-19. El mes siguiente, la coalición en Yemen liderada por los sauditas anunció un alto el fuego unilateral de dos semanas, que luego extendió.

Los bandos enfrentados ya lograron avances significativos hacia un acuerdo de alto el fuego en negociaciones coordinadas por el enviado especial para Yemen de la ONU, Martin Griffiths.…  Seguir leyendo »

The British and our continental European neighbours share at least one thing in common. There are times when neither of us can see the wood for the trees. The past few months of Brexit negotiations have been consumed by interminable exchanges on budget contributions, internal markets, WTO rules and passporting for the City of London.

All of these issues are worthy and have to be addressed, but we are left with the wider world assuming that Napoleon was right and that we are, after all, a nation of shopkeepers and not much else. It also implies the same for the French and the Germans, who seem to be having much the same obsessions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian and Western perspectives on the crisis in Ukraine are bound to diverge, but the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 should bring us together. This is not only because we can appreciate and feel saddened by the scale of the human loss, but also because the incident is a harbinger of the wider danger we are in. Of profound concern is the possibility of an unintended escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine to a direct NATO-Russia military confrontation. To avoid such a development, policy makers need to relearn some important crisis management lessons from history.

Just consider that even before the Flight 17 disaster, we had seen a huge deterioration in mutual trust between Russia and the West.…  Seguir leyendo »

The House of Commons will be at its most serious on Thursday when it debates the proper international response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. MPs will speak with passion and conviction. The whips, in all parties, will struggle to maintain party discipline on what is a matter of conscience not just policy. It will be one of those relatively rare occasions when the house and the country do not already know which side of the argument will win the vote.

Inevitably, comparisons will be made with the debate that led to Britain joining the US in the invasion of Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

In September 1991, as violence spread through the Balkans, Yugoslavia’s helpless foreign minister, Budimir Loncar, requested that the United Nations Security Council establish a global arms embargo that would apply to all parties in the conflict. His request remains, to my knowledge, the only example of a government demanding that sanctions be imposed on its own country.

In theory, the move was an act of neutrality designed to contain the violence. In fact, the embargo — which I supported at the time — consolidated the Bosnian Serbs’ overwhelming superiority of arms due to their access to the stockpiles of the Yugoslav National Army.…  Seguir leyendo »

Was it a cock-up? Or was it a conspiracy? In all probability it was a cocked-up conspiracy. By any standards it was an extraordinary diplomatic disaster. The announcement of Israel’s intention to build 1,600 homes in east Jerusalem antagonised the Palestinians and infuriated the international community.

That, by itself, would be unlikely to cause Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, to lose much sleep. But when you manage to humiliate the US Vice-President, who was visiting when the new homes were announced, and cause its Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to say that her country has been “insulted” you are in the middle of a serious international mess.…  Seguir leyendo »

If I were George W. Bush or Tony Blair, I would be feeling rather sore at the announcement of President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. For eight long years Mr Bush and Mr Blair struggled to advance democracy, prevent weapons of mass destruction and combat terrorism without even a sniff of a Nobel prize for their efforts. Admittedly, the Iraq war was a disaster. There were, in the event, no weapons of mass destruction; and Osama bin Laden remains at liberty in his cave.

But no one knew that would be the outcome when they began in 2001. Then it was “glad confident morn”.…  Seguir leyendo »

The late Julian Amery once informed me that as a child in the 1920s he had been taken by his father, Leo Amery, to watch the arrival in London of King Amanullah of Afghanistan on a state visit.

As the King appeared in an open coach, Amery overheard two Cockneys in front of him. “Who’s that?” said one. “That’s the King of Arfghanistan,” replied the other. “Oh,” said the first. “Who’s the king of the other arf?”

Some things don’t change. Such is the limited authority of the current Afghan Government that President Hamid Karzai is often, unkindly, referred to as the mayor of Kabul.…  Seguir leyendo »

I was once told by a senior Israeli official: “In the Middle East, if you don't believe in miracles, you are not a realist.” One would be forgiven for believing it will need a miracle for King Abdullah of Jordan's vision of a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arabs to be achieved in the course of this year.

The omens are depressing. Israel has a new hardline Government that has, so far, rejected even the aspiration of a two-state solution. If Binyamin Netanyahu were to confirm that position he would, in effect, be repudiating the strategy pursued by all Israeli governments since the Oslo Accords in 1993.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is easy to get depressed about the trauma of Tibet and the suppression of Tibetan cultural and political aspirations. It is, after all, almost half a century since the Dalai Lama fled his country. He has never been able to return and recent events make it highly unlikely that he will in the foreseeable future.

Over that half century the Soviet Union has collapsed into 15 independent states, apartheid has been defeated in South Africa, colonial empires have disappeared, and the United States could be about to elect its first black president. But Tibet and the Tibetans remain under the iron hand of Beijing, denied not just self-government but also the free expression of their unique cultural and religious identity.…  Seguir leyendo »