Barely a week after Parliament voted for air strikes on Iraq, Isis are on the outskirts of Baghdad and there is a growing call from military hawks for the deployment of western ground troops. Belgium and Denmark are the latest countries to join the coalition of western military action against Iraq, but in practice it is the US that is leading the campaign, having now carried out hundreds of sorties, to little effect. Why is this?
George Galloway provided part of the answer when he spoke in the parliamentary debate at the end of September. Speaking of ISIS, he said:
It does not have any bases. The territory that its personnel control is the size of Britain and yet there are only between 10,000 and 20,000 of them. Do the maths. They do not concentrate as an army. They do not live in bases. The only way that a force of that size could successfully hold the territory that it holds is if the population acts as the water in which it swims.”
The decision to engage UK armed forces in a foreign conflict is never easy. For the second time in a year David Cameron sought authorisation from parliament for military intervention in the Middle East.
While parliament rejected air strikes against the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad last year, on Friday MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting an air campaign against ISIL in Iraq.
There are a number of key questions which must be addressed and applied when considering military intervention: Is it necessary, is there a basis in international law, do we have a credible exit strategy and what would constitute success? Continue reading
Reading the Hansard record of Friday September 26th’s debate on going to war, one is struck by the paucity of voices raised against this folly. Caroline Lucas, the sole Green MP and George Galloway, the Respect MP, both made telling points, but of the 24 Labour MPs who voted against, very few got to do more than interject with some challenging questions. One exception was Jeremy Corbyn who spoke powerfully against the motion: Continue reading
This afternoon a vote was taken in the House of Commons to approve the use of air strikes (but not ground troops) in Iraq (but not Syria). This was approved by 524 votes to 43, with the bulk of the Labour Party supporting the Coalition government. Only 23 Labour MPs joined 6 Tories, 1 Lib Dem, plus the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green and Respect parties. There were, however, thirty-nine Labour MPs who were either absent or abstained. This does not include the one front bench spokesperson, Rushanara Ali, who resigned after going through both the yes and no lobbies. The full list of rebels and abstainers is below. Continue reading
Today’s debate in the Commons brings to a head the issue of what action should be taken to stop Islamic State in its murderous rampage across northern Iraq and Syria. It is not this time another invasion of Iraq, but a desperate plea by the new Iraqi government for outside assistance to help combat what is seen as an existential threat to the Iraqi state. Nor is ISIS just another enemy in the complex and lethal sectarianism of the Middle East, but rather a monster with a blood lust which can be compared with the Genghiz Khan Mongols or the latter day Nazis, and one which the world can surely not turn aside from and wash its hands of. Continue reading