By Geoffrey Paul
January 26, 2011
Have we entered a new era of revolution by tweet? Until the Egyptian cut them off yesterday, it was possible to follow the unfolding of events in Cairo by logging into one or the other of the social networks being used to spread the word of demonstrations against the regime. This is so much more authentic in conveying the flavour of events in Cairo than the digested and sometimes overly-cautious interpretations offered by media experts. Some of the best stuff on developments in the Arab world comes from savvy bloggers. One who seems to know his olives from his dates pointed out that the al-Jazeera/Gurdian leaks of Palestinian papers came from within the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit (NSU). The NSU is funded by DFID, the UK Department for International Development, and exists to provide parity in the negotiations by giving the Palestinians a professionally-staffed reach-back capability for negotiation details. My blogger observes: “ I'm not casting aspersions here - the NSU hires a lot of young international idealists, and local skeptics, any of whom might have been to blame for the leak. But that detail, combined with the recent admission by a British general that his support to the Palestinian security forces has not made any impact on the use of torture by those forces, reinforces the perils of giving any backing to a regime that doesn't have the support of its own people.” There’s a thought. And another one: how does supporting the Palestinian negotiating team fit in with DfID's apolitical remit of poverty reduction?