Adel Darwish

Adel Darwish

Adel Darwish (Egyptian Arabic: عادل درويش, IPA: [ˈʕæːdel dæɾˈwiːʃ]; born 1954) is a British journalist, author, historian, broadcaster and political commentator, specialising on Middle Eastern politics.

Darwish is a veteran Fleet Street foreign correspondent and has written for The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, as well as maintaining his online blog and publishing several books.[1] He is also a regional contributor for The Middle East.[2]



Darwish also writes under other Pennames like Alex Darwin and Alexander T Darwin and A Adel A. Despite the similarity in some translated Arabic names, Darwish is often wrongly placed with Arabic Journalists. This is a common error because of his expertise in the Middle East. Darwish is not an Arab, but understood to be of Eastern European origin from the Balkans, the Macedonian parts. "Adel", as well as being common in Arabic (as عادل) and the correct format of it is 'al-adel' , is also a male name of Germanic origin, meaning brave.[3] The surname "Darwish" (Arabic: درويش‎) is commonly held in the Levant, most famously by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. However, its popularity meant that many Balkan immigrants to the Ottoman Empire adopted the name to blend into their new environments. In this context, Darwish may be a corruption or Arabization of the Slavic name Darvic, pronounced "dar-vitch".

Early life

Darwish was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to Eastern European family from the Balkans. His parents were Albanian Macedonian but are also believed to have held British citizenship or had strong links with 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. He graduated in 1974, having also spent four semesters in the academic year 1971-1972 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. In 1973, Darwish moved permanently to the Middle East, 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

Adel Darwish is currently the Political Editor of the The Middle East (magazine)Group, based at the Parliamentary Press Gallery [2] at the House of Commons 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.[4] 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;[5] 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.[6] 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.

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.[7]

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.


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.


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]



  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. ^ [1] Guide to Germanic names and their meanings.
  4. ^ Darwish, Adel (1991): Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam's War, (London: Gollancz; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991).
  5. ^ Saudi Arabia Special Weapons at Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  6. ^ Sale, Richard: Saddam key in early CIA plot at United Press International (UPI).
  7. ^ "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.", 10 March 2009

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