Adel Darwish

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Adel Darwish (Egyptian Arabic: عادل درويش, IPA: [ˈʕæːdel dæɾˈwiːʃ]) is a Westminster-based British political journalist, a veteran Fleet Street reporter, author, historian, broadcaster, and political commentator. Darwish is currently (since 2002) a Parliament lobby correspondent based at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, the Palace of Westminster specializing on foreign affairs, especially Middle Eastern politics.

Darwish is a veteran Fleet Street foreign correspondent and has worked for, engaged by, or written for The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, The Times, as well as maintaining his online blog and publishing several books.[1] He is currently the political Editor of Middle East News and the The Middle East.,[2] of which he was a regional contributor.

Name[edit]

Darwish also writes under pennames such as Alex Darwin, Alexander T. Darwin and A. Adel A.

Early life[edit]

Darwish was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to his family from the Balkans and central Europe. His parents were Albanian Macedonian but are also believed to have held British citizenship and were in Britain. His father, Menem Effendi, was postmaster in Alexandria when the local postal service was run by the British.

After attending British schools in Alexandria, Darwish moved to Britain in 1959 where he studied for A levels then to London University. He graduated in 1966, having also spent four semesters in the academic year 1963-1964 at Alexandria University as part of his study of Middle East history.

After university, Darwish began his journalistic career in Africa, as a correspondent for several British Fleet Street newspapers, before moving to the Middle East to cover events there. Darwish reported on the Dawson's Field hijackings of several aircraft by the Palestinian radical group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in 1970, and the ensuing Black September clashes in Jordan.

Darwish was also sent to Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Iraq between 1970 and 1972. While in Iraq, he met Saddam Hussein,[1] at that time still relatively unknown in the West and just beginning his political career as shadow deputy leader of the local Baath Party and vice-chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council. An amusing well known story in Fleet Street when Darwish, along with another Middle East legendary correspondent John Bulloch met Saddam Hussein, who invited " her majesty's press corps" to a glass of the Iraqi National Drink, which turned out to be to bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label Whiskey. That evening, Mr Deputy, as Saddam Hussein was known then, out-drank the entire Fleet Street mission to Baghdad. In 1973, Darwish became a Middle East-based correspondent, and went on to cover that year's Yom Kippur War, in which Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria invaded Israel to recapture land lost in the 1967 Six Day War.

Journalistic career[edit]

Adel Darwish is currently the Political Editor of the Middle East Group, based at the Parliamentary Press Gallery [1] at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in Westminster. A prolific writer, Darwish covered the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (1980), the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat (1981) and his state funeral, and the Gulf War (1991).

Darwish was the first journalist in the world to expose Saddam Hussein's missile programme after an explosion in al-Hella, a facility south of Baghdad, killed over 800 people in August 1987.[3] Darwish, together with Pierre Salinger, also had a scoop when he obtained the transcripts of the meetings between United States' Ambassador April Glaspie and Saddam Hussein a week before the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait, in which Hussein made clear his aggressive intentions without any objections from Glaspie. Darwish's story was printed in The Independent in August 1990 with an agreement from Salinger that ABC News would air the story a few hours later. The day before, Darwish had published a story on the meeting between the American chargé d'affaires, Joseph C. Wilson, and Saddam Hussein on 6 August 1990, when the Iraqi President offered to give America oil below market price if he were to annex Kuwait.

Strengthening Darwish's position as a leading regional investigative reporter during his time at The Independent (1986–1998), Darwish published numerous exclusive stories, including his exposé on Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi's chemical weapons factory at Rabta; the attempt on al-Gaddafi's life during a visit by the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad; and the Libyan leader's efforts to buy a nuclear-powered submarine from a Russian captain. Darwish also revealed secret talks between Syria and Israel; the 1988 secret missile deal between Saudi Arabia and China;[4] and the role of the United States Navy and Air Force in supporting Saddam Hussein during the Iran–Iraq War and Hussein's long-standing relationship with the United States' Central Intelligence Agency.[5] He was among the first writers to use the term "Islamists" to refer to Islamic extremists employing violence.

Personally acquainted with most Middle Eastern leaders and statesmen, Darwish also had close ties to British Arabists and Foreign Office officials active in the region, known as the Camel Corps. The many obituaries he has written for The Independent, numbering more than 200, give a unique insight into a century of Middle Eastern history and the interaction of the British Empire and the Arab world.

Darwish worked as a fleet street correspondent and stringer in Jerusalem, Cairo, Tehran, Beirut, Bahrain, and as a roving correspondent in Africa and the Middle East.

For a period of approximately nine months and until December 2008, Darwish was director of the UK-based research organization Just Journalism. He resigned citing disagreements with the organisation's chairwoman and founder, on the issue of neutrality.[6]

As well as The Independent and The Daily Telegraph, Darwish has worked for The Times and his articles have been printed in The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, The Scotsman, The Washington Post and The Economist magazine. He frequently appears as a commentator on the BBC, Sky News and ITN, as well as major American and Canadian networks and Arabic-language television stations, including Nile TV and Kuwait TV.

Theatre[edit]

As a playwright, Darwish has been involved in British theatre, with some of his plays performed at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Young Vic and several Fringe theatres in London during the 1970s. Most of his plays are adaptations of poems and short stories from Africa, especially from Egypt.

Awards[edit]

Adel Darwish recently in 2008 won the Cutting Edge Prize ("for an outstanding new ideas and contribution to peace and understanding via Journalism") from the Next Century Foundation's International Council for Press and Broadcasting media council awards, for his contribution to better understanding both in and towards the Middle East.[citation needed]

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Darwish, Adel (21 March 2003): Why Saddam has cast himself as the Godfather of Baghdad, in The Daily Telegraph.
  2. ^ The Middle East at IC Publications.
  3. ^ Darwish, Adel (1991): Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam's War, (London: Gollancz; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991).
  4. ^ Saudi Arabia Special Weapons at GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  5. ^ Sale, Richard: Saddam key in early CIA plot at United Press International (UPI).
  6. ^ "Neutrality was very much at the heart of the dispute between myself and the chairwoman of the board (the lady who founded the organisation) as I insisted on neutrality from the start. I wanted the organisation to develop [and] deal with news coverage of the Middle East in general, and become a source of information and a think tank for the media dealing with the Middle East. Therefore when the lady holding the purse of the organisation and I had different agenda and different aims, I resigned as from 31 December 2008. Also, for the same reason, respected columnist Nick Cohen, whom I [had] persuaded to join the Advisory Board, has also resigned, along with Dr Tarek Heggy, a very prominent Egyptian born international thinker." AdelDarwish.com, 10 March 2009