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Intervention in Iraq is futile – we should not join it

BRITAIN-UAE-DIPLOMACYTwo years after MPs voted not to take part in the bombardment of Syria, British forces have been doing precisely that. A cross-party group of MPs and peers will investigate the air strikes, the Government’s authorisation of which shows complete contempt for parliamentary democracy. As Michael Meacher pointed out, “The excuse given by the Prime Minister’s office that they were embedded with US forces and not operating under a British chain of command is risible.”

 

But, beyond the challenge to constitutional government in the UK, it’s worth asking what the aerial attacks on Isis are likely to accomplish. Last year. Parliament authorised air strikes on the terrorist group in Iraq as part of a US-led coalition of attacks. Nearly a year on, little has been achieved, except for the continued suffering of the Iraqi people, at considerable cost to the taxpayer. The value of bombs dropped by British warplanes and drones on Iraq since September has likely exceeded around £20m, according to an analysis by the Independent.

Britain is stepping up its role in the conflict. with a sharp increase in SAS operations, drone missions and RAF strikes announced in July. Meanwhile, retired US Army General Mike Flynn, a top intelligence official in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says that the drone war is creating more terrorists than it is killing, just as the US-led invasion of Iraq helped create the Islamic State.

This latest phase of the conflict is turning into one of the bloodiest for some time. According to a UN report, some 15,000 civilians had been killed in the sixteen months up to April 2015. Since January 2014, nearly three million Iraqis have been displaced due to the fighting.

Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the latest offensive against Isis. Reuters report: “As Iraqi forces prepare to try to recapture the city of Falluja, tens of thousands of civilians find themselves trapped between Islamic State militants ready to use them as human shields and a government suspicious of their loyalties.

Iraqi forces have inflicted considerable civilian casualties in Anbar province in recent weeks. Elsewhere, in one notorious incident in July, an Iraqi fighter jet accidentally dropped a bomb over a Baghdad neighbourhood, killing at least 12 people.

Isis’s murderous barbarism is undisputed. In addition to the atrocities perpetrated against civilians for smoking, eating instead of fasting, being of the wrong faith, and so on, there is now evidence that they are engaged in the manufacture of rudimentary chemical weapons. But whether pouring more weaponry into the region will solve anything looks increasingly doubtful.

When Iraqi forces fled Mosul last year without firing a shot, allowing Isis to establish its most significant urban base in the country so far, they left behind a large amount of materiel for the terrorists to make use of. No fewer than 2,300 Humvee armoured vehicles were left to fall into Isis’s hands – a majority of all the Humvees the US has delivered to the Iraqi army. The US taxpayer might just as well be funding Isis directly.

Nor was this an isolated incident. In May, Iraqi army and police ran away from an Isis advance on Ramadi, allowing more valuable American weaponry to fall into the terrorists’ hands. With the Government gearing up to ask Parliament in the autumn to overturn its 2013 policy and extend its bombing of Isis into Syria, it’s instructive to remember this record of futility in Iraq.

12 Comments

  1. David Ellis says:

    Parliament and Congress voted not to come to the aid of the Syrian People and their Democratic Revolution when they were being butchered by Assad in their tens of thousands and the degenerate Putinite left applauded this which gave a tremendous boost to ISIS. The reason Parliament and Congress did not support the Syrian People against Assad is now clear. They were engaged in a rapprochment with the vile Iranian theocractic counter-revolution. Now they are going into Syria but not against Assad but in his support as a subordinate of Iran. America have simply switched sides of the great Islamic sectarian divide and are backing Iranian militas and Assad’s forces against ISIS which are just as sectarian and vicious as ISIS having slaughtered socialists, trade unionists and revolutionaries by the tens of thousands.

    1. James Martin says:

      The problem is David there was never a mass slaughter of communists and socialists under the Assad Baathists (as there had been, for example, in Iraq by the Saddam Baathists in Iraq and the Nasser Baathists in Egypt)). Yes, there was oppression (particularly by the many Nasser supporters), but that was largely ended in the mid-80s due to pressure from the USSR and since then communist and socialist parties have been legal and hold a number of seats in the Syrian parliament (including the 2 main communist parties that split over Gorbachev’s reforms and the Peoples Will party that has Trotskyist leanings and currently has two Syrian MPs). So yes, Assad’s secret police were never pleasant, but please don’t make things up – the safest place to be a socialist or communist in Syria right now apart from the areas controlled by the YPG are in areas controlled by the Syrian army – anywhere else, and including areas controlled by the western loved free syrian army, is a death sentence. And that is why leftist groups in Syria are not opposing Assad right now!

    2. Mike says:

      Tthe principal reason Parliament did not “support the Syrian people”, or to be more accurate, start bombing the Syrian people, was because MPs refused to support what the Government wanted. This is because the left in the Labour Party rebelled against a deal the front bench had done with the Government days earlier to support aerial bombardment. This forced Labour to pull back from the deal and others also were opposed. Read the Hansard debate at the time – it’s clear that the false prospectus Parliament was sold over Iraq dominates the entire debate – Iran barely features.

      Once it was clear the Brits were not on board, the US had serious misgivings about going it alone. These are the facts.

      There’s little evidence that this refusal to bomb Syria helped Isis, compared wit the evidence of war materiel in Iraq falling into their hands. On Syria, I might have added that in their enthusiasm to train anti-Assad fighters, the US helped armed forces that became part of ISIS, as documented here: http://www.juancole.com/2015/07/isis-about-after.html
      “Pentagon officials knew at least a year before ISIS launched its campaign that NATO-trained “moderate” Free Syrian Army rebels were defecting to ISIS or al-Qaeda to fight Assad, but the United States continued to fund them anyway. Turkey, a major U.S. NATO ally, was sponsoring ISIS with military and medical equipment while working with the United States to train 15,000 Syrian rebels.”

  2. James Martin says:

    Well let’s start from the obvious, that Iraq is a bloody mess is the fault of the US and UK under Bush and Blair. So much we know, but the question then arises if anything can make it better.

    First, I am not opposed to killing fascists. We needed to do this in great numbers to defeat the Nazi’s and other fascist groups in WWII (although of course the Red Army did most of the work on the ground, hence the fact 2 out every 3 people that died in the conflict were Russians).

    In Iraq and Syria we have a modern clerical fascist barbarian death cult that is equally beyond debate and reason and only physical elimination will remove the cancer.

    The question is how? Certainly not by further weakening the secular regime of Assad, which for all its faults still has the loyalty of large numbers of Syrians including a number of leftist/socialist organisations there as well as the leftist Popular Front wing of the PLO forces in the country. The reality is that the Syrian army is for the moment the only force outside of the Kurdish areas that can hold back the Islamic-fascists, and much as I would like to see secular workers militias we need to deal with the here and now.

    Next, the US and UK both support the House of Saud, who have been the main financial backers of the clerical-fascists. They also of course support Turkey who has now allegedly attacked ISIS but is clearly using as a cover to go after the Kurds while the US and NATO look the other way.

    Iran continues to persecute trade union activists internally while projecting a ‘moderate’ face. I don’t have any illusions in that regime of the reactionary grey-beards, but they are currently key in preventing ISIS further expansion in eastern Iraq, as well as in propping up Assad of course.

    The US always wanted weakened middle eastern states, first because it lessened the threat against Israel and second because of oil. They have their wish, but without what they hoped would be the prizes.

    The secular/socialist forces around the PKK/YPG deserve our unreserved support, but the more general problem is that in WWII we had the Red Army that for all the faults of the gulag stalinist regime was a viable progressive counter to real fascism. Today we have real fascism again in a religious cloak, but no Red Army…

    1. Baghdad Bob says:

      Iraq we were lied to An orchestrated campaign by virtually all the MSM in the drumbeat to war Baghdad Bob Babies torn out of incubators Rape rooms ZZZZ
      Libya Ditto Iraq Compare the articles in the MSM to Iraq Rape rooms Mass murder Genocide humanitarian mission, backed up of course by a legion of NGOS HRW for example, lies as have been admitted
      Syria Rape rooms Genocide CW all BS

      We are the evil doers, not the Assads Rouhanis We are the scum of the earth Pitiless mass murderers

    2. David Ellis says:

      The ISIS seed was planted by Bush’s failed and illegal invasion of Iraq to `bring democracy’. It germinated in the manure of Obama’s turning his back on the Syrian National Democratic Revolution and the Arab Spring. The degenerate Western left celebrated this betrayal as some sort of victory for anti-imperialism when in fact imperialism never was going to help a democratic revolution against a semi-colonial tyrant. It would not be imperialism if it did. The neo-Stalinist Western left has once again betrayed a revolution.

  3. Bazza says:

    Yes I think many of us opposed the bombing in Syria because it would pour petrol on the fire and at least it may have saved a few hundred thousand and more crucially gave 5m people the chance to get out.
    The Bush Blair intervention (influenced by Neo- Cons) is probably the worst foreign policy decision in 60 years!
    Of course capital (like IS et al) will have its eyes on oil.
    We seem to have proxy wars between outside Sunni and Shia in Syria etc (and Yeman) and we shouldn’t take sides as Muslims tragically kill Muslims (though both sides claim to believe, “If you kill one human being you kill humanity”) – we should strive for peace and an end to the madness.
    In a pub I go in they have The Times newspaper and there was a good cartoon in it the other day – Cameron gets into a fighter jet to bomb IS in Syria and Assad is sat in the back seat!
    We shouldn’t also forget that the Assad elite owns about a third of the economy so perhaps this is also driving them (although he is down to half the country now) but I don’t think either side can be proud as they survey what they now own (much of it rubble) and say “all this is mine!”
    Most of the Syrian people whatever they find themselves want it to stop and want peace – we should listen to them.
    But what do you do with a problem like IS who want their will through violence – I read an excellent piece once about how the West is almost ignorant about the important role of tribalism in parts of the World and as well as properly arming the Kurds (and not bombing them like Turkey) we need to try to win the tribes around – perhaps giving the countries their oil back (taking away the parts owned by Western TNCs) may go some of the way to wining back hearts and minds.
    Violence is anathema to many socialists and is only a last resort in self defence so perpetrators perhaps need to be aware,”What you sew you will reap!”
    But we should not bomb in Syria and try and try and try again with peace conferences and initiatives (with all parties) while some buildings still remain standing and to stop the senseless killing- there are no military winners – we need peaceful progressive forces!

  4. gerry says:

    The situation in Syria is beyond help or hope – all sides in the conflict, with the possible exception of the Kurds, have blood drenched hands, and this stalemate suits all sides too.

    Long term the only hope for the region is to -somehow – kill off the mass support for Islamic fascism. Muslims themselves will have to reject the violence, murder, sectarianism and oppression done in the name of Sunni or Shi’a Islam, and to reject theocracy, caliphates, sharia states – they must unambiguously accept that human rights based societies trump religious based sharia law societies. Some hope – but decades from now, surely the only one.

  5. David Ellis says:

    Bunch of Assadists. And guess what he is now getting imperialist support through Iran whose militias in Iraq and Syria get American and British air cover against ISIS. Imperialism has simply switched to the other side of the sectarian divide. Its whole policy has been to squash the Arab Spring. The duty of revolutionaries is, guess what, to support revolutions unconditionally. Failure to do so led to the flourishing of the fascist ISIS and the successfull slaughter of 250,000 people and the transformation of 7.5 million into refugees by the Insane Butcher Assad. Truly the British left remains degenerate and under a neo-Stalinist pseudo anti-imperialist ideology that supports any old third world semi colonial mad dog against the people.

    1. gerry says:

      The only forces at present which can fight or hold back Islamic fascism in Syria are Assad’s and the Kurds. In Iraq the situation is different – Iran-backed Shi’a fascism vs Saudi backed Sunni fascism, with the Sunni Kurds and non Muslim minorities caught between a rock and a hard place. And the tiny progressive forces behind the Arab Spring were always going to be hijacked and massively outnumbered by the fascist holy warriors – it is was always silly, unhistorical and plain naive to hope for any kind of”national democratic revolution”.

      1. David Ellis says:

        Assad helped to establish ISIS. In Iraq the Ba’athists form the backbone of the ISIS fascist movement. It is the failure of the revolution against Assad that gave these fascists their big break and they used it to grab territory and Mussolini style slaughter all revolutionaries and trades unionist and democrats in the towns and villages they took. To side with Assad against the revolution is unconscionable. And now of course the imperialists are giving air cover to Assad and Iran and their militias which are equally vicious but on the other side of the sectarian divide. The degenerat neo-Stalinist Western left sided with Assad from the start as he is a Putin puppet and for doing so must take their share of the responsibility for the emergence of ISIS.

  6. swatantra says:

    So what do we do? Walk away and leave Iraqi to kill Iraqi and Syrian to kill Syrian, the Muslim to kill their fellow Muslim countrymen and women, I’m perfectly happy to do that, except that these raging wars are spilling over their natural borders and affecting us, you and me, directly and indirectly. So we may have no choice but to go in with the UN and finish off the job of restoring order and peace so that te ordinary citizens of these countries can once again enjoy life and the vicious dictators and thugs are brought to book..

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