British Association of Muslim Police Officers perform Umrah
The Association of Muslim Police Officers performed visited Madinah and Mekkah between 20 and 29 January in order to perform the Umrah pilgrimage.
The thirty member delegation represented police forces up and down the UK. In addition to visiting the Two Holy Mosques and performing their pilgrimage the delegation gave extensive interviews to the Arabic press. You can see some of the photos from their visit on the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia’s Flickr site.
Winners of the Inquirer Award to be announced
James Watt: Thoughts on the Occupation
In his latest blog, our Ambassador in Jordan gives his thoughts on the country’s role in the West Bank after reading reports in the press quoting King Abdullah on his 48th birthday:
“The message is quite clear: Jordan will not accept any role in the West Bank, and the Jordanian army will not take the place of the Israeli one there. I know this to be the King’s rock-solid position.
The reason he has to keep restating it is because there are those on the Israeli side who keep coming back to the idea. They are the ones who will do anything to prevent the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state, which is the solution strongly backed by the entire international community, and which my own country has been working hard to achieve.”
Read the full post
Frances Guy: Peacekeepers
Frances Guy in Beirut writes about the role of UN Peacekeepers in her latest blog.
“How do you feel about blue berets? Somehow I find them reassuring. And yet there is every reason not to. Usually UN peacekeepers are in country because there is some unresolved conflict which politicians can’t see their way round except to keep things quiet by putting in a buffer force. That is to be welcomed. While they keep the peace ordinary people can get on with their lives.
But there are a few places in the world where UN forces have been around for rather a long time. Cyprus is one, and southern Lebanon is another. I attended the handover ceremony of the command of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) today. Yes, its name is “interim” and yes if you look them up and you will find that they have been around since 1978. So hardly interim then. No but the ceremony reminded me of how things have got better in Lebanon since I came here in October 2006. We have heard a lot about threats and counter-threats over the last few weeks. Before we talk too much about war we should take time to remember the very positive role that UNIFIL has played over the last 3 years.”
Read the full blog
The London Yemen Meeting
Today, representatives from governments across the world met in London to discuss Yemen; the challenges that the state faces in the immediate future and how to go present a coordinated global effort to assist its leaders. The meeting also focused on assistance to address the longer term economic and social factors underlying extremism and radicalisation.
Read the full outcomes of the Meeting
Our position on Yemen
Read the webchat with UK Ambassador to Yemen, Tim Torlot with Times Online
Embassy in Morocco enables discussion on media and democracy
The intellectual journal ‘Nawafid’ together with the UK-based Media Diversity Institute (MDI) invited around 30 leading professionals from the world of law, media, education and civil society to participate in the discussion.
This international event also included six guests from Algeria, Mauritania and Tunisia, who provided comparison and insight into the debate on how the media can support the local democratization process in an era of increasing regionalization.
The roundtable is one of a series of discussions to be hosted by MDI around Morocco. In July MDI held a similar roundtable in Rabat on the need for a public space in the Moroccan media. MDI’s activities in Morocco are in part funded by the British embassy in Rabat.
See the images from the event
John Davies in Cairo on Viva Palestina and Gaza
Deputy Ambassador in Cairo, Jon Davies writes about the events earlier in Janaury that saw the Viva Palestina convoy venture into Gaza. It was a testing time for the embassy staff who in the event acquitted themselves extremely well.
“Most people know that most of Gaza’s Palestinians are suffering badly. Many want to do something about it… Civil society and individuals basically have the same two options: political activity and physical support. I think it is fair to say that was true of the Viva Palestina which passed through Egypt this month. Most involved wanted to make a political point and to deliver real assistance to Gazans. Our Government’s response had to tread a variety of fine lines. The starkest was not about international relations. It was between on the one hand our advice to British travellers - which rightly warns against going to an area where we know the threat is high and our ability to provide consular help severely limited; and on the other the humanitarian imperative - we know that in some cases British nationals will be part of the international response to a real crisis.”
Read the full blog
Scholarships for Palestinian students
Applications are now open for Olive Tree Scholarships, run by City University in London. Under the Programme the university awards a limited number of undergraduate scholarships (up to 12 at a time) to exceptional Palestinian and Israeli applicants, for study at City University. The award of a scholarship enables those selected to:
- spend three years working on their chosen undergraduate degree course
- participate in regular extra-curricula activities and retreats designed to facilitate dialogue and understanding across the conflict divide
- acquire skills and knowledge relevant to conflict mediation, community work, protection of human rights and communication across cultures.
More (Jerusalem Consulate website)
FCO adds new web pages on Yemen
Today we launched a new page of content on Britain’s relations with Yemen as the situation in that country becomes increasingly important to the stability of the Middle East region. The Foreign Secretary blogged recently about Yemen, saying:
“Yemen faces multiple problems from security to drought. It’s got a long history with the UK - one of the oldest Yemeni communities is in my constituency. Over the last year it has been rising up the agenda in the Middle East and in the West. It is very important that there is preventative work as well as pursuit of terrorist cells and protection of ourselves.”
Read the full blog and comments
More about the UK’s stance on Yemen (www.fco.gov.uk/yemen)