Tom Fletcher » British Ambassador to Lebanon

Wisdom Amid Adversity?: NATO Comes to Wales

With a formidable to-do list for the world’s leaders, the 2014 NATO Summit takes place in Wales on 4/5 September. This will be the largest ever gathering of international leaders in Britain. In preparation, some diplomats have even been learning Welsh (Matthew Barzun clip). Having been to a few, I’ve sometimes been sceptical about the value of summits in the 21st century. But this one is different. People speak too … Read more »Wisdom Amid Adversity?: NATO Comes to Wales

An Apology, and a Lebanese Manifesto

Today I visited the Presidential Palace to thank President Sleiman for his leadership. Throughout his mandate he has led Lebanon with great dignity and wisdom, and worked tirelessly for unity and consensus. He has just left the building. In theory, a new President should be preparing to arrive, making the last adjustments to his or her inauguration speech, setting out a vision for the future of the country, deciding how … Read more »An Apology, and a Lebanese Manifesto

Engagement is Not Just About Cute Cats and Hashtags

I joined three events in the last week on power in the digital age. The first was with online activists and entrepreneurs, with @AUB_OC at the American University #SMCL2. I had first met them shortly after arriving in Beirut in 2011, and talked about riding the digital tiger, and tips for twiplomats. Two years on, it was clearer to me that power is moving in the direction of these digital … Read more »Engagement is Not Just About Cute Cats and Hashtags

One Hundred Years On: Here’s to the Crazy Ones

This month, I attended the reopening of the Anglo-American Cemetery in Beirut, a century after its inauguration. This small corner of a foreign field in Furn el-Shubbak is the final resting place of a hundred or so explorers and pioneers who came to Lebanon in the 19th and early 20th centuries – missionaries, educationalists, relief workers. Even an RAF pilot shot down in 1956, reportedly by Hafez al Assad. The … Read more »One Hundred Years On: Here’s to the Crazy Ones

SOVEREIGNTY, BORDERS AND KEEPING LEBANON OUT OF THE WAR

Feature image for:  SOVEREIGNTY, BORDERS AND KEEPING LEBANON OUT OF THE WAR

This week I visited Lebanon’s Northern border with the Lebanese Army. I wanted to see the way in which they are trying to enforce sovereignty at this challenging time, supported by UK projects. A series of UK funded border towers, some built (symbolically) with material previously used in Northern Ireland, are the most significant evidence in the area that a border actually exists. They cannot prevent all cross border activity, far … Read more »SOVEREIGNTY, BORDERS AND KEEPING LEBANON OUT OF THE WAR

Inhuman Human Trafficking

Feature image for:  Inhuman Human Trafficking

In the 21st century we get angry about many small things: traffic jams, power cuts or a failed internet connection. We get plenty of opportunities for all three in Lebanon. But last Friday I joined an event about an issue worth getting really furious about. The Beirut Bar Association launched a Human Rights Institute booklet on human trafficking, funded by the British Embassy. It provides information on what people should … Read more »Inhuman Human Trafficking

DIVA DIPLOMACY – ‘ONE LEBANON: UNITED FOR TOMORROW’

Last Saturday, twenty Lebanese stars performed together in a powerful rejection of divisive politics and sectarianism. Pop idols, divas, comedians, sportsmen, rappers and actors put on the best possible display of the real Lebanon – talented, resilient, and proud of their country. It was an extraordinary night. The charismatic Anthony Touma got the largest screams, but the biggest cheer was for a moving combination of Ave Maria and the Call … Read more »DIVA DIPLOMACY – ‘ONE LEBANON: UNITED FOR TOMORROW’

An Idea Worth Shouting About

One of the great frustrations of diplomacy is that results are hard to quantify. If, for example, a new government is at last formed in Lebanon, we will be hard pressed to say to what extent our encouragement, the hours on the road, in planes and in meetings, contributed. So when a project with direct, measurable, tangible impact comes along, we get excited. This week we got one that leaves … Read more »An Idea Worth Shouting About

A Talisman for Tolerance – Lebanon loses Mohamad Chatah

Lebanon lost Mohamad Chatah and many others today. As at other such moments, the embassy went into a high gear – checking staff were safe, searching hospitals for Brits, updating travel advice, considering a public response, assessing the facts, analysing the implications. In between, like so many others here, we try to deal with the shock. And we grieve. I visited former PM Siniora to condole with him, and with … Read more »A Talisman for Tolerance – Lebanon loses Mohamad Chatah

Five Challenges for Lebanon in 2014

A year ago, I shared elements of my annual review of the year in Lebanon.  One year on, we’re still running to stand still. I’ve learnt three rules about diplomacy here. Never think you can understand Lebanon. Never think you can predict Lebanon. Never think you can fix Lebanon.    However, breaking at least one of these rules, I think that the first quarter of 2014 will be critical for Lebanon’s stability. … Read more »Five Challenges for Lebanon in 2014