We can take the case against Daesh as read. (Blah, blah, insert appropriate hang wringing cliche). We get it. Why does every interviewee who has the eminently sensible view that it’s not a good idea to send the RAF into Syria to kill people have to be expected to out do the war mongers in their condemnation of IS, ISIL, ISIS or whatever they’re called this week? Clive Lewis, the Labour MP and Corbyn ally was at it on the Today Programme this morning. “A medieval perversion of Islam”. Most of us haven’t got a clue about Islam and its practices or various interpretations so just hear the word, “Islam” connected to bad stuff. On that basis the term Daesh is better (even though it’s an acronym, ironically for ISIL) as it stops the ownership of a religion by a miniscule minority.
I don’t imagine there are many people in the UK who want to see the triumph of the group that are currently in charge of large parts of Iraq and Syria. The question is how do we put an end to this mayhem?
Poverty and post imperialism allied to the inertia of the Saudi regime, whose own system of running society is not far removed from Daesh) are the causes of the current crisis.
Because of the vast wells of Black Gold under the region the Middle East came onto the radar of the Western Powers after oil was first struck in 1908 under Iran and their involvement was stepped up massively when the largest field in the world was discovered in 1938.
Cue generations of meddling with regime change as the weapon of choice. This was in order to facilitate the largest and cheapest flow of oil to the guzzling West “Democracies”. “Democracy” is always the stated aim of the West when it decides to interfere. Until it produces the wrong result. The CIA propped up the secret police State run by the Shah of Iran after he deposed the elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Voted in by the Iranian people in 1951 he passed a bill through Parliament to nationalise Iranian oil. That way his people could keep the oil money and use it as they saw fit. This destroyed the UK’s hold over the oil fields where revenues flowed back to the fat cats in London. The result was 1953’s Operation Boot which involved the CIA and the UK Secret Service engineer plus give practical and hard cash support to a military coup d’etat which ended democracy and extended the Shah’s powers to that of a royal despot.
The culmination of the West’s disastrous on the hoof responses (policy would suggest a considered long term strategy) in the Middle East was the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq and its criminally botched aftermath. Once again short term gain (getting rid of Saddam and syphoning off the oil) trumped all other considerations. The rise of Daesh was the depressingly predictable outcome of Operation Iraqi Freedom. If you destroy a nation in every sense of the word how can you be surprised when the ensuing vacuum is filled by terrorists and the rise of an diametrically opposed ideology to the one you are trying to impose with weapons?
The Iraqi and Syrian people do not support or endorse Daesh in any way shape or form. The butchery of Saddam was replaced by the chaos of the Coalition era which in turn has been superseded by the rise of this Caliphate which is even more oppressive than the Saudis, and that’s a high bar. The populace are cowed by a fearsome level of state approved street violence against which they have no redress or opportunity to organise effective opposition. Daesh, the outside observer seems surprisingly well organised and above all well funded. This makes them formidable.
9/11, 7/7 and the Paris Attacks rocked us to the core and were shocking examples where the terror faced in Beirut, Tel Aviv, Baghdad and other cities was brought to our doorsteps. A toxic combination of inequality,religious related nihilism and brainwashing led to these atrocities bringing what was over there to our here and now.
US President George W. Bush and UK premier Tony Blair’s response was to take the “war” to the “enemy”. The problem being that it’s hard to wage war on a set of ideas held by a tiny minority, The number of individuals in Europe prepared to take part in attacks where death is certain probably lies not even in the hundreds. It’s more like dozens. Therefore the idea of hunting these people down by invading nations (the traditional way of waging war) is actually a monumentally stupid idea. But initially it does have the merit of being seen to “do” something. This feeling soon subsided as the Afghan and then Iraq wars became bloody conflicts of attrition where not one of the aims were met in the long term. We left both countries in a mess and open to the insurgents who we sought to nullify. And the human cost was unbearable for thousands of people whose friends and family perished in the sand.
The father of UK Captain James Philippson who perished in Afghanistan told the media in 2006, “He didn’t believe for one minute it was either worth doing or that we would succeed. He knew it was for nothing. We should never have been there and when people say it’s a job well done, it’s just unbelievably crass.”
The result has been a flood of refugees from both these countries to seek a better life in Europe.
In 2011 Cameron his Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, and de facto Deputy PM and Foreign Secretary William Hague came to the Commons to seek approval to send RAF bombers into action against Col. Gaddafi’s regime in Libya. Once again no post war plans were in place and we weren’t at all sure about the credentials of those insurgents were supporting. Gaddafi was deposed. Happy days? Far from it. Following the template Libya descended into chaos with a Daesh affiliate right there in the mix.
Only TEN Labour MP’s had the guts to defy what was seen at the time as mainstream opinion. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were amongst those 10. Mark Durkan and Margaret Ritchie from the Northern Irish SDLP joined Green MP Caroline Lucas in the No Lobby. Their vilification was quite something to behold in what was, incidentally a whipped vote.
Their opposition was summed up by Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi
“We in this country and this House do not really understand the Middle East and north Africa. We are meddling in things that we should not meddle in, because there are so many uncertainties. In the past 10 or 12 years, America, ourselves and others have spent trillions of dollars on being involved in conflicts in the Middle East, and what have we left? We have not resolved any of the situations involved or made countries any better than when we went into them”.
We didn’t learn then and we are destined to make the same mistakes in Syria.
Firstly what can be gained by a bombing campaign? No war has ever been won by air power alone. Not even using nuclear WMD. it was the entry of the USSR that brought Japan to its knees in 1945, not atomic bombs. The US led coalition (including the RAF) has been pounding Daesh controlled Iraq and Syria since 2013. Yet Sky News Foreign Editor Sam Kiley let the cat out of the bag when he suggested earlier in November that we had made no impact on Daesh’s ability to move weapons and personnel at will.
Secondly, and following on from Kiley’s assertion, who are we killing? The population are being hammered, starved and much worse by Daesh and on top of that they have to evade death and destruction being dropped on them from 30,000 feet.
There is a lot of talk about “precision bombing” and this idea that we can hit a cricket stump from vast distances. We can’t. Mairin Power published this map on Facebook with the comment: “So how exactly is this precision bombing going to work? Russia will bomb the purple, grey and yellow bits. The US will bomb the grey, yellow and blue bits. Turkey will bomb all the bits (apart from IS). Saudi will bomb no bits (but happy to fund some bits). The UK will bomb………… ooh now, let’s see – so many colours to choose from!”
Thirdly, what does Cameron see as the endgame? He called for Assad to go in 2013 but now that seems to be on the backburner due to Putin’s involvement. This proves to me that he’s in it for political and not geo military strategic reasons with a planned outcome. That, as we have seen is the direction chaos lies. We don’t even know which group we are supporting.
The whole sorry mess cannot be solved by us getting involved. The solution lies in listening not talking at the situation. Bill Clinton was right when he said about most problems in the world. “It’s the economy, stupid”. The people of the region need to be in control of their own assets and their own lives. Someone is buying oil from Daesh, this has to stop immediately and representatives of workers in the region can be brought together. Syria and Daesh are the symptoms of a busted capitalist system and these crises will roll on and on.
We are like Homer Simpson reaching for the beer, being electrocuted every single time but still replicating the behaviour and expecting a different outcome. Doh!