Paul Wood

Paul Wood was a BBC foreign correspondent for 25 years, in Belgrade, Athens, Cairo, Jerusalem, Kabul and Washington DC. He has won numerous awards, including two US Emmys for his coverage of the Syrian civil war

Party time: what is the cost of freedom?

34 min listen

How free are we after freedom day?(00:27) Also on the podcast: Why does it take hours to refuel your car in Lebanon?(10:19) and finally… Is British gardening wilting or blooming?(21:21) With The Spectator‘s economics editor Kate Andrews, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, journalists Paul Wood and Tala Ramadan, author James Bartholomew

The crisis in Lebanon is a warning for the West

 Beirut On the highway into Beirut the other day, we drove past a petrol queue that was more than two miles long. On and on it went, the drivers sweating and swearing in brutal heat. Some had run out of fuel while they waited, having to push their cars when the queue inched forwards. There

Triumph of the Taleban: the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan

There’s an apocryphal story, told and retold by journalists many times over the course of America’s longest war. A Taleban prisoner is sitting, relaxed, across the table from an American interrogator: ‘You may have all the watches,’ the prisoner says, ‘but we have all the time.’ Now, the Taleban’s patience is finally paying off. President

Is the worst yet to come in the Middle East?

Beirut We can’t say yet if the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas is the start of ‘the big one’, a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising. That possibility was raised by the grandest of Middle East commentators, Thomas Friedman, in the New York Times. Friedman is sometimes mocked for his prognostications. A ‘Friedman’ is defined

Migrant smuggling is one of Lebanon’s last businesses

Ibrahim Lachine sold his mother’s furniture to pay for a place on a smuggler’s boat from Lebanon to Cyprus and left without saying goodbye. Stealing was, he admits, a bad thing to do, but the boat mafia wanted $700 (£500) and he couldn’t see any other way to get the money. He was 22 and

Isis’s weakness is now its strength

As coronavirus swept the globe a year ago, Isis began issuing pronouncements. ‘God, by his will, sent a punishment to the tyrants of this time and their followers,’ said one such; ‘we are pleased about this punishment from God for you.’ With the world on lockdown, Isis followers were urged not to sit around at

Spectator Out Loud: Alex Massie, Paul Wood and Melissa Kite

26 min listen

On this week’s episode, the Spectator’s Scotland editor Alex Massie asks why Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity keeps growing, despite her government’s underperformance. (00:55) Next, Paul Wood argues that the next six weeks are crucial for the future of the Middle East. (12:00) Finally, Melissa Kite wonders what the new Covid rules mean. (21:00)

Iran vs the rest: the Middle East has reached a tipping point

Last year, in the cigar bar of an opulent London hotel much favoured by visiting Arabs, an interesting conversation took place. My friend was rich enough to have two private jets and claimed to be doing private shuttle diplomacy between Israel and one of the Gulf states. Smoke curled around our heads and a young

Trump 2024! He definitely lost – but he’s not finished yet

Donald Trump’s increasingly outrageous attempts to contest the results of the US presidential election were given their absurd symbol early on with what one commentator called The Four Seasons Total Landscaping fiasco.  A week ago, with the decisive votes being counted in the last, critical states in the election, with Trump making a forlorn attempt

Donald Trump is preparing to strike his greatest deal yet

A New Yorker cartoon shows Donald Trump in an orange jumpsuit. Until last night, his enemies could enjoyably salivate over that prospect. Today, it might look to them as though president Trump is not going to jail, after all.  We cannot say yet whether that’s because he has won outright, or because he has lost

Trump should pardon Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden says that he didn’t mean to end up in Russia when he fled after leaking secrets from his job at the United States National Security Agency (NSA). He writes in his autobiography, Permanent Record, that he agonised about where to go. Europe was impossible because of extradition. Africa was a ‘no-go zone’ because the

The mood in Lebanon is for revolution

When 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate left in Beirut’s port exploded last week, a three-year-old girl named Alexandra Najjar was torn from her mother’s arms as they ran inside from their balcony. In the same instant, every-thing in the apartment was flying through the air — doors, window frames, shards of glass, the air-conditioning unit,

Was the ‘pee tape’ a lie all along?

Sir Anthony Eden’s wife, Clarissa, famously said that at times she’d felt as if the Suez Canal was flowing through her drawing room. Over the past four years, perhaps American voters have felt the Volga lapping at their feet. There’s been no escape from Russia and even the Mueller inquiry did not put the matter

How much worse can things get for Lebanon?

Just before Twitter started firing out messages about a ‘bomb’ in Beirut, our cleaner rang us in tears, shaking, telling us our house had been damaged by an explosion. Video from her phone showed our windows blown out and splintered furniture. There was debris in the street and wrecked cars at odd angles. A man

Audio Reads: Rachel Johnson, Paul Wood, and Simon Barnes

25 min listen

This week’s episode features Rachel Johnson’s diary, in which she talks about becoming an aunt again; Paul Wood on why mass testing isn’t good enough – and why we should be testing everyone in the country; and Simon Barnes on why boxing is the most natural thing in the world.

Iraq may now have to choose between America and Iran

To be fair to president Donald Trump, he has not rushed to confront with Iran. Last June, he stopped airstrikes from going ahead – the US military ‘cocked and loaded’ – after a US surveillance drone was shot down and after Iranian actions threatened international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. He did not –

Katharine Gun: the spy who tried to stop the Iraq war

In his memoir of office, Decision Points, George W. Bush writes about going to see Tony Blair in the Azores in the last days before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It was a crisis meeting because they had failed to get a second UN resolution, to give legal cover for the war. This was