Heads in the Sand (of the Middle East)

Next month is the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and the program, contrary to previous years, is parochial, and dominated by female authors concerned only with domestic and feminist issues.

Just a few years ago the headline authors were giants like Izzeldin Abu Elaish, whose book I SHALL NOT HATE detailed his upbringing in a Palestinian refugee camp, his amazing escape through education as a doctor in Egypt, and his trauma of seeing his wife and daughters killed by Israeli shells. And yet he still seeks reconciliation.

And Ingrid Betancourt, the Columbian senator kidnapped and held captive for 6 years by FARC, and yet showing no signs of this traumatic experience she is trying to be a voice of sanity in Latin America.

And there were live interactive chats arranged with the Arab Spring rebels in Egypt, and with dissdents in Pakistan.

Now the best they can muster from the wide world outside Australia is a session with a female French journalist who once worked with another French journalist who worked for Charlie HEBDO. Bonne Chance!

Why are we burying our heads in the sand? Is the terror of DAESH too terrifying to confront? Are we weary of the conflict(s) in the Middle East?

The Arab Spring has turned rapidly to a Winter of Our Discontent. Afghanistan has fallen off the radar, presumably because the Taliban are reasserting their control. Iraq is a total mess, and the civil war in Syria drags on without resolution or road map. And of course always in the background is the atavistic 50 year old war between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Will there ever be enough of blood?

When  Yitzak Rabin declared “Enough of blood” and tried to make a lasting peace with Yasser Arafat he was assassinated by a by his own kind. There will never be peace in the Middle East until the West no longer needs the cheap energy that crude oil supplies. Oil is a vital strategic asset that brings billions of dollars to the region, dollars that fuel the conflict(s).

The Middle East, and more specifically the Arabian/Persian Gulf, is the site of a new Great Game where the Politicians, and Movers & Shakers of the wannabe Great Powers play out their war games. There will never be enough of blood until the last drop of oil is spilled.

If you want some insights into the Middle East from the perspective of Western expatriates who washed up there from the 1970s when the price of crude oil jumped from $5 to $25 per barrel and gave the Gulf Emirs wealth (almost) beyond the dreams of avarice, until the events 9/11, which where a direct consequence of that wealth, then read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”.

You can preview it at:




and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition with free delivery worldwide from:


Using the ISBN number is 978-1908147097

or direct from my publisher



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