Peace and prosperity for all (in Europe)?

Sephelia Orinaca is with us from for one month for ‘work experience’ (that is, to be truthful, as an unpaid intern). [And I am very glad for the sake of peaceful conduct of business in the office that Louise has taken firm quasi-maternal action against young Simon’s obviously self-interested attempts to help Sephelia with washing of the tea-cups and disposal of the bottles. Herewith her first effort.]

News Update

compiled by Sephelia Orinaca

The Middle East:

            The United States has re-considered its position on the possible involvement of Iran in talks to end the civil war in Syria. Hitherto they had ruled out Iranian attendance at any negotiations on the grounds that Iran has sent troops to fight on behalf of Bashar Assad and, as a party to the conflict, cannot logically be allowed to take part in talks to end it (the long established diplomatic principle known as unconditional insanity). Moreover Iran has a history of more than three millennia of close contacts with the Mesopotamian region and therefore must be excluded given the risk that the Iranians may have an advantage in urging their views on the basis of great experience and detailed knowledge of the region that is not available to countries that have only been closely involved since they began their invasions in 1990.

            The possibility has also been raised of American direct action on the ground against IS, but this may face opposition from certain quarters in the House of Representatives who are contending that such military action should be put out to tender so as not to deprive investors of the opportunity to take part in the nation’s defense. One member is said to be denouncing the ‘requirement for the troops to fight barefoot’, to avoid a breach of the solemn commitment ‘no boots on the ground’.

            It should be added that Iran denies having sent troops to fight in Syria, admitting only that they have assigned some hundreds of advisors to the Syrian army. It is not clear at what figure ‘advisors’ turn into soldiers. It is generally accepted that during the Vietnam war the US forces reached a figure of 45,000 while still being advisors rather than combatants


            It is reported that the latest air raid by the Nato force in the campaign to restore order and establish democratic human rights in Afghanistan in the face of the violence mounted by rebel extremists has successfully destroyed an enemy headquarters masquerading as a hospital, from which the rebel forces had repeatedly launched unprovoked attacks on aircraft passing on meteorological reconnaissance missions.

Stronger ties between the UK and Saudi Arabia

            Following a meeting of foreign ministers, Britain and Saudi Arabia issued a joint statement praising the ‘excellent relations’ between their two countries, united by their strong moral values and their respect for constitutionality and the benefits of royal leadership. They looked forward to improving ties notably with the signing of a contract for the sale of £1.8bn worth of handcuffs and leg-shackles, to be manufactured by the joint public-private initiative All-embracing Security plc launched by the Home Office in January 2014.  The British minister acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s place at the cutting edge of research into new medical techniques while the Saudi minister welcomed the British government move to ban all psychoactive substances notwithstanding the loss of revenue from brewing companies.


            A spokesman disclaimed any knowledge of the attack yesterday afternoon which devastated a market in a provincial city midway between Hama and Homs with a series of bombing raids resulting in many deaths and injuries. Local inhabitants denied that any militants had been in the area and showed photographs, taken with smartphones, of bomb craters and damaged buildings and bodies lying in the street. The spokesman denied that government forces had been in action yesterday and speculated that the attack might have been orchestrated by those members of the local population hostile to the government. It is not known whether  the local merchants have an airforce.

Linguistic footnote

‘Combatants’ [sic] should be pronounced correctly, with the stress on the first syllable.

Sephelia Orinaca (Deputy Assistant to the Editor)


Editor’s note

This morning I received, apparently by express pigeon since it turned up unexplained on the first floor balcony, a brief but interesting missive from my highly valued friend in Brussels. It contained from him only a pencilled note thrust inside a news release from the Secretariat for Approved Communications. The latter was one of their F-grade publications as distributed to ordinary citizens of the EU (therefore not remotely resembling the luxury glossy volumes complete with advertisements for expensive high-end branded products and property investments with pull-out soft porn supplements that they leave on the bedside tables when hosting conferences for ‘European Deciders’ and ‘Young Leaders of Tomorrow’ or whoever it may be, in favoured Mediterranean coastal resorts.) This object closely resembled the sort of smudged photocopied British local election leaflet inflicted on voters in the ancient days before spin-doctoring really took off. Just three sides of vapid bilingual (French and German, of course) EU-speak inside, and then another five of adverts for themselves and their world view – everything from ‘an evening discussing the principled basis of subsidiarity with Martin Schulz’ to a picture of a pregnant lady in a tartan chador on the back cover and the words ‘Could she be a terrorist? How to guard yourself against suicide bombers’ But all that’s irrelevant. The important thing was N’s brief news item in his note, which I quote verbatim: ‘Apparently Commission preparing to discover document proving cricket was originated by late 16th century Osmanlis. Appallingly misjudged belief it will produce favourable view of EU and encourage votes for continuing membership in upcoming British referendum’