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Syria and the West: Has the Arab Spring reached its limits?

Posted: Friday 17 Feb 2012
Category: Policy

In early February 2011, I wrote about the Arab Spring. It was during these early days of revolt in Egypt and Tunisia that, whilst confessing along with everyone else that events had taken me by surprise, I thought there was “a potential for new domestic pressures to emerge on undemocratic governments, pressures that could rapidly change globalisation in new and important directions”.

At that point, the 3rd February, only Tunisia and Egypt had experienced major revolts, with some signs of discontent and unrest in Yemen, Jordan, and Palestine. Eight days later, however, and Hosni Mubarak was gone, mirroring the fate of Tunisia’s deposed Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and rapidly followed by major protests in Libya, Iran and Bahrain. A “Day of Rage” followed on 25th February that encompassed Iraq. In March, savage fighting began in Libya, introducing NATO’s no fly zone, and in the same month the Saudi Kingdom narrowly dodged a mass riot only via a huge display of force by security troops.

With the world changing before our eyes, Syrian forces shot five protesters in city of Deraa, almost out of sight during the chaotic month of March, and killed them. This kick-started the Syrian revolt.

Article first published on Next Europe

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It is important that voters know the clear dividing lines between Labour and Tory MEPs

Posted: Friday 27 Feb 2009
Category: Policy

I have been involved in the six year legislative battle on the EU Agency Workers Directive. This is just one example of a controversial piece of social legislation which will affect the lives of 1.4 million British workers employed as temporary agency workers. How many people reading the articles on LabourList are aware that this significant new EU law will have to implemented by the UK government in the coming weeks?
My guess is that very few outside the affected employers and trade unions will be aware of this, or indeed important recent votes by Labour MEPs to remove the UK's opt-out from the Working Time Directive, or our groundbreaking vote on the new Climate Change Package just before Christmas. Just three examples of the laws which are now made by the European Parliament when it acts as an equal lawmaker with the member states of the EU - called the Council of Ministers.

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