159 episodes

William Morris, Secretary General of the Next Century Foundation, discusses the new political issues of the week, with a particular focus on developments in the Middle East.

This Week in the Middle East William

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William Morris, Secretary General of the Next Century Foundation, discusses the new political issues of the week, with a particular focus on developments in the Middle East.

    Bye Bye Boris and then what?

    Bye Bye Boris and then what?

    There's not much to inspire in the contenders for the crown:

    Rishi Sunak
    Sunak was behind the UK Government’s abandonment of its commitment to spending 0.7% of its GDP on developmental aid. Cutting this budget will have a detrimental effect on countries that receive British foreign aid, such as Yemen and Afghanistan. As already mentioned, these countries are likely to struggle even more this year, and it is unlikely as a candidate he will commit to repealing these reforms as lowering foreign aid is a popular policy within the Conservative Party.

    Penny Mordaunt
    Mordaunt has voted for military action in both Iraq and Syria, as well as for the continued deployment of British troops in Afghanistan. She has a military background as a Royal Navy Reservist and has a month-long stint as Defence Secretary. Mordaunt has vowed to increase defence spending, and it is likely she would favour a Hawkish foreign policy.
    Mourdant was appointed Secretary for International Development on 9th November 2017, leaving in April 2018. She has made concerning statements since leaving the position, such as suggesting in June 2020 that some foreign aid should instead be spent on a replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia.

    Liz Truss
    Liz Truss received the support of 64 MPs in the second round. Liz Truss is perhaps even more Hawkish than Mourdant, and has been backed by some of the prominent figures on the right of the Conservative Party, such as Jacob Rees Mogg and Nadine Dorries. Since becoming Foreign Secretary in September 2021, she has tried to style herself after Thatcher and has been aggressive in opposing Russia when it comes to the situation in Ukraine.
    However, this has led to her pushing Middle Eastern issues to the periphery. Questioned by a committee of MPs, she highlighted the important status of the Gulf States as allies but declined to say whether she had questioned their governments on their arguably weak human rights records.

    Kemi Badenoch
    In fourth place in the second round with 49 MPs backing her was Kemi Badenoch. Badenoch is a rising star in the party, positioning herself as an ‘anti-woke’ candidate. When it comes to foreign affairs, she has said she ‘doesn’t care’ about colonialism. These attitudes could lead to worse relations with Middle Eastern countries, as many of them suffered from colonialism. Badenoch doesn’t believe ‘institutional racism’ exists in the UK, which might affect the way refugees are treated in the UK, many of whom coming from countries like Syria and Afghanistan.

    Tom Tugendhat
    Tom Tugendhat came fifth in the second round with 32 MPs backing him. He has experience in the Middle East, having served as a soldier in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Tugendhat did a Master’s degree in Islamic studies and is fluent in Arabic, which would both be useful in working with Middle Eastern countries. Tugendhat came to national attention for his strong criticism of the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling it the “biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez.” He is also a strong supporter of Israel, condemning the United Nations for its official criticism of Israeli settlements. He has suggested that other disputed territories should also receive attention, such as Western Sahara, Kashmir and Tibet.

    Tugendhat has accused Iran of funding terrorists, which could make work on a Nuclear Deal difficult. He has also praised Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in 2018 for having a positive impact on his country and the world. Tugendhat also vocally opposed the cut in the foreign aid budget. Tugendhat is seen by some to be on the left of the Conservative Party, yet some of his statements on Israel and Saudi Arabia show an interesting approach to the Middle East. 
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    • 12 min
    A message for Eid Al Adha 2022

    A message for Eid Al Adha 2022

    It is Eid in a year in which hatred has reached new levels. And there is so much pain in the world. Now a mere word can lift us and a mere word can destroy us. William's Eid message is about coping, in a world in which there is far too much despair.
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    • 12 min
    On ending the war with Russia

    On ending the war with Russia

    The grain harvest from last year is in the silos in Ukraine. Unless it is shifted this year's harvest will have to be burnt in the fields and children in Africa will starve. Surely now is the time for action for peace? But what deal will Russia accept and can Ukraine endure?
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    • 9 min
    On Duty

    On Duty

    I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
    That was what the Queen said on her 21st birthday in 1947. But what is duty?
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    • 6 min
    Ukraine - what you don't want to hear

    Ukraine - what you don't want to hear

    NCF Secretary General, William Morris, gives insights into the war in Ukraine based on information gleaned from unusual sources
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    • 17 min
    On the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

    On the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

    The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh has, understandably, generated a lot of hatred. But she was a Christian. And would she have wanted this response? I am by no means certain. James the brother of Jesus in what is arguably the earliest of the gospel passages wrote, "Mercy triumphs over Justice". God deals out judgement and punishment. But then he offers mercy. So too with us. We should forgive those that trespass against us. Or at the very least attempt to do so. And the man that killed Shireen has trespassed against us all. The prophet Mohamed said "Kill one person and its as if you killed the world". So breaking the cycle of hatred starts with you - and me.
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    • 7 min

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