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The Mediterranean basin


1) It was a mistake to allow Greece into the EU so early. Greece does not belong to Western Europe, but to Orthodox Europe. We admitted the country mainly for sentimental reasons, remembering Ancient Greece and the classics.

2. After five centuries of Turkish rule, there remain today only memories of the culture we associate with that glorious period. The Balkans as a whole have been "Turkified"; the food, the music, even their children's stories are much the same. Only the ruins and the remarkable books the Ancient Greeks left behind remind of us of the culture that was once here.

3) Greece has become purely a drag on the EU. It is a country with little sense of duty to a common goal.

4) The country has an inefficient bureaucracy, a huge public sector, a huge budget deficit, and the highest inflation rate of any European country.


1) The king of Morocco believes himself to be a descendant of the prophet Mohammed. If you write anything resembling a critical remark about him you can find yourself spending years in prison. The king himself likes travelling in more liberal countries and enjoying all of life's conveniences.

2) This is a hierarchical society, where the children of the privileged are sent to the best schools in France. The rest have systematically been kept from getting an education. Thus illiteracy is a problem.

3) The Moroccan government does little to promote literacy, and it hinders people from migrating into the cities, where there is not enough work for them.

4) Morocco has a solid intellectual elite, and if Turkey is to be an EU member state there are fewer reasons why Morocco should not also become one. Moroccan students are among the best in French universities, in subjects like mathematics and computer science.

5) Morocco is the only African country where the French feel that their interests are reasonably secure. When the French retire, some of them buy houses in Marrakesh or on the coast.


1) This is a country where people seldom speak their minds. Instead conversations are always on two levels.

2) Europe would never accept Algeria getting an Islamist government. If Algeria went nuclear, it could become the European Cuba. That is why we have supported Algerian dictators and military regimes. And Algeria is not unique in that respect.

3) Algeria is run by two rival forces: the generals on one side (known as le pouvoir) and the challengers on the other, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his friends. In recent years Bouteflika has been on the offensive. He amended the constitution, on 12 November 2008, to allow himself to be president for life. After the Arab Spring Bouteflika has had to retreat in several areas, but still sits firm in power.

4) Ten years of savage fighting and killing between the government and the FIS (the old mujahedeen who had fought the French) ended in an armistice at the beginning of the 21stcentury. There were no winners, only losers.

5) The bombings in the Paris tunnels in 2005 were a reminder of what forces might be released.


1) Muammar Gaddafi was the world's longest-ruling dictator. As Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa, Gaddafi was able to avoid most criticism.

2) The USA provoked the war against Libya in 1986 by sailing close to their coast. When the Libyan Navy reacted to this, the US retaliated massively. The war was initiated partly to divert the eyes of the American public from the war against the democratically-elected government of Nicaragua. In retaliation, Gaddafi ordered a bomb to be placed on a Boeing 747 filled with American civilians (Lockerbie bombing). No wonder the US government was angry when Gordon Brown exchanged the main suspect for BP oil contracts in Libya.

3) Now revolution has come from within, supported by French and British interests. But, the new Libya is not looking to the West for a role model, but to Turkey, an enlightened country governed by Islamists.

4) Much of the revolution was cleverly orchestrated from Doha, fooling much of the Western Intelligence community


1) Tunisia is not Arab, but Byzantine. It was part of the Byzantine Empire. Carthage was populated by

2) Tunisians view the Vandals as civilized. Their hundred-year rule of Carthage was a time of prosperity. It was the Roman Church which gave the Vandals a bad name, especially after the "sack of Rome" in 455, an episode that for its time was actually remarkably sparing of human life, leaving very few Romans dead.

3) Under Bourguiba, and later under Ben Ali, the people got an education and became better off. Now, they want to rule.

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