Monday, December 03, 2007

Diplomatic conundrum

Gillian Gibbons - the British teacher - who named a teddy bear Mohamed and was sent to jail for fifteen days, is freed and pardoned.

Now lets look behind the scenes.

I'm not privy to the diplomatic conversations but am extraoplating my experience based on stories I have done in this area in the past and from hearing diplomats shed light on behind the scenes antics from attending Chatham House where I have been a member for the last 14 years.

Ms Gibbons is coming home.. well if she had her way she wouldn't want to.

That was the whole point, presumably of her going to Sudan in the first place, to lead a new life.

The team that went out to secure her release; now what would you give to have been privy to their strategy?

If the president Omar al-Bashir had not met with the two officials, British Muslim peers, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham and Baroness Wars, then you can expect their would have been be a bit of a fall out with the British government.

Diplomatic Ways
Diplomacy works in mysterious days and well, er, wrist-slap is a dish nicely served cold: a Sudanese official party to the UK inadvertently held up at Heathrow or something else.

Woops, an embarrassing moment set to take place down the line.

But the president's move now gives him cash in the bank.

The Africans have an expression scratch my palm and I'll scratch yours, after which they'll add: "Now lets drink tea", a brief moment to celebrate.

Keep and eye on for a diplomatic entourage to the UK in a year to 18 months time, with favourable results.

On the other hand, you may not hear anything; that's the whole point of diplomacy and to paraphrase ex CIA James Woolsey talking about the clandestine services with me ie the CIA which also translates well to diplomacy, what they don't want you to know, you wont.

Ms Gibbons spent 8 days in a prison which in her own words wasn't that bad - the ministry brought her a bed!

A prime catch, however the Sudanese authorities were not going to have her slopping out with other hardened criminals.

Humiliate the British government but for goodnesss sake don't rub it in.

So having been pardoned, Ms Gibbon's experience has ironically in a rather "unhelpful" fashion been cut short.

Unhelpful because if she's to sell her story, it's only 8 days.

The real cause celebre story would have her emerging from prison having served the full 15 days.

Selling her Story
And the point is can she sell her story?

It's likely somone wil be contacting Max Clifford - PR/newspaper guru for advice.

One question is is the pardon tantamount to a clean-criminal-slate?

If it is it gives her an ethical and technical victory: she's not a criminal.

If it hasn't been expunged that benign holiday trip to the US might be complicated filling in the immigration card.

And the newspapers would rather not run up against their industry guidelines about paying criminals for their story.

Yes the crime was elsewhere.

So she'll be back tomorrow; you could start to write the story now.

The media will go into a frenzy, GMTV, BBC, the tabloids and qualoids; she will for 15 minutes become a celeb.

And then it'll be over, with part of her self back and a reflection of the life she so beautifully was leading before this very unfortunate state of affairs kicked in.

But everyone's a winner: The president: the two British peers; the media ( juicy story); and, even, even Ms Gibbons, well!

p.s Watch out for a photocall (sic) with high powered govt officials which should bat the dodgy donations issue into touch for a while

No comments: