British newspapers published on Wednesday covered many Arab and international issues, including the Derna floods disaster in Libya that caused it, Tehran’s release of prisoners holding American citizenship and the implications of that, and the deteriorating conditions in one of the refugee shelters in Britain.
We start with the Financial Times, whose editorial was titled “The flood disaster in Libya is partly man-made.” The newspaper says when Storm Daniel blew across the Mediterranean Sea towards the eastern coastal region of Libya, local officials had sufficient warning of the storm approaching their coast. A few days ago, the storm caused floods in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, killing more than ten people.
The newspaper says that in Libya, no one was prepared for the scale of the disaster that was about to occur. As heavy rains and strong winds fell on the area, two dams collapsed on the hills above Derna, leading to a torrent of water that swept through the heart of the city.
The Financial Times says, “The exact number of victims is not yet known, but death certificates have been issued for about four thousand people.”
The newspaper believes that such a disaster may pose challenges to any country, but in Libya there was no effective state in the beginning, and instead, there are competing political factions, famous for corruption and supported by militias, that have divided the country over the past decade between the East and the West. These warring factions must now bear a great deal of responsibility for the tragedy that befell the Libyans.
The Financial Times says that the major damage to the city resulted from the collapse of the two ancient dams, which were apparently in poor condition, and experts have long warned of the dangers they pose if not properly taken care of. She adds that a report issued by a state-run audit body warned two years ago of the consequences of not carrying out maintenance work on the two dams, despite the authorities receiving more than two million dollars for repairs in 2012 and 2013. In November, a study published by a Libyan university journal warned of cracks in the dams and “serious consequences” if they collapse.
The newspaper says that Libya is the only country in the Middle East in which the West, under the banner of NATO, intervened militarily to support the rebellion against the tyrant during the Arab uprisings in 2011. It adds that the Western countries that participated in NATO’s intervention did not show much interest in the reconstruction process. It believes that the United States views Libya primarily through the lens of combating terrorism.
A new direction for Western diplomacy
We turn to The Guardian newspaper and a report by Patrick Wintour, the newspaper’s diplomatic editor, entitled “The Iranian prisoner release agreement signals a new direction in Western diplomacy.”
The writer says that shortly after her release, former Iranian political prisoner, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, noted that freedom is never complete, because those released always remember those they left behind.
The writer says that, by contrast, when five Americans who were released from Iranian captivity arrive in Qatar on their way back to their families, the general mood will be joyful and emotional. Also in contrast to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, the lengthy diplomatic process that led to the release of the American hostages was complex and fraught with calculations.
The writer says that Iranian-American relations are witnessing continuous change, as trends are moving in different directions, some toward confrontation and others toward calming tensions. He adds that it has not been clear for months whether Joe Biden’s administration favors one option over the other, or actually prefers the status quo.
The writer added that when deciding to release six billion dollars in Iranian oil revenues frozen in a South Korean bank account due to US sanctions, the US President gave priority to securing the release of the five, some of whom had been in prison for ten years. The writer believes that this is a tribute to the public campaigns demanding their release, but it may also indicate a new direction in Western diplomacy towards Iran.
The writer says that Biden took a double risk. He faces criticism from Republicans who say the agreement will encourage more hostage-taking.
He says Biden also faces criticism from less partisan sources. The deal was concluded at a time when Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was selling Iranian-made drones to Russia to attack Ukrainian cities.
“Our ruthless government”
We turn to the Independent newspaper, whose editorial was headlined, “The ‘humiliating’ migrant center tells us a lot about our ruthless government.”
The newspaper says that the practical challenges of managing irregular migration are enormous. He argues that the “Stop the Boats” slogan, although crude, is actually something all parties agree on, meaning that immigration run by criminal gangs is something that often leads to tragedy.
The newspaper says that the way Britain deals with those who arrive here in the most dangerous and frustrating circumstances, whether we choose to view them as refugees or economic migrants, must be consistent with the desire not to incur risks and not to harm them.
She adds that whatever their history and whatever way they arrived here, they must be treated humanely, and they should not be subjected to conditions that amount to torture.
The newspaper says that it appears that the humane approach was not applied at the Brook House detention center for illegal immigrants. She adds that the independent investigation into Brooke House led by Kate Ives concluded that vulnerable detainees were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Although the investigation concerns events that occurred a few years ago, there is no compelling reason to believe that things are much better in these centers now.
The newspaper says that the details revealed in the report should upset even the harshest observers, as refugees and other immigrants, whose only crime was to seek safety and try to get a better life, were living in prison-like conditions, and as expected, They developed mental illnesses, which in some cases may have led to greater abuse.
The newspaper says that the people detained in the center were treated like prisoners and were naked or semi-naked, and were subjected to insults and abuse. It adds that evidence indicates the use of “abusive, racist and insulting language” against detainees, loss of religious freedoms, and living in unsanitary conditions.