David Cameron wants the UK to conduct air strikes on ISIS positions in Syria. In doing so, he claims he will be fulfilling his international duties and standing with his allies such as France who have been affected by ISIS. However the Prime Minister has demonstrated such flagrant ignorance and inconsideration of the realities on the ground. Indeed the Prime Minister’s only argument appears to be that we ‘have’ to be a part of the war.
Why are UK air strikes pointless?
The fact of the matter is that the UK is not the first nor the last country that will bomb Syria. Air strikes have been ongoing for a long time and have had little effect. On the contrary, ISIS have only managed to cement their position and remain entrenched in their territory.
The question here is, what do UK bombs contribute to the campaign? More so, what specifications do UK bombs have that make them so unique compared to the US bombs, Russian bombs, Canadian bombs, Australian bombs, and all the other nations’ bombs already falling ISIS? The Prime Minister has yet to address this question.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister has not delivered a plan as to what will happen on the ground. His reference to 70,000 moderate opposition troops is extraordinary. More so, he neglected to mention that Russia are bombing all opposition groups, including the ‘moderate’ rebels in a bid to strengthen the Assad regime’s position. Without a plan on the ground, and without convincing Russia to stop bombing credible opposition groups, the UK is inevitably just another lesser nation aimlessly bombing Syria.
The political process
The Prime Minister went to great lengths to emphasise the ‘political solution’, referring to meetings in Vienna. However his referral to Vienna as a significant step in the peace process demonstrates a lack of awareness as to the geopolitics in the region. The first Vienna meeting failed to bring about even an agreement amongst the parties who want Assad gone, let alone bridging a gap between these allies and Russia who wants to see Assad remain. If even the allies who are anti-Assad are unable to form a united front, then how close can a political solution in Syria really be? Furthermore, there is no clear Syrian opposition group that the international community have agreed upon as a genuine replacement for the Assad regime, or at least a group worthy of support. One must ask then as to what genuine political process the Prime Minister was referring to.
Who are UK’s allies?
The international community are in agreement that ISIS is a terrorist organisation and that they must be defeated. Yet members of this international community are at odds over Syria to the extent that Turkey shot down a Russian jet. Furthermore, the US are supporting the Kurds in their fight against ISIS but Turkey are in a war with the Kurds whom they accuse of seeking to use the crisis in Syria to set up an independent state. Then Saudi Arabia want the removal of Assad to curb Iran’s influence in the region but Iran, at least for the moment, sees Assad as a red line. In essence, all of these powers are unable to agree whether a resolution to this crisis involves Assad or not. The Prime Minister stated that the UK stance is that there is no room for Assad. So he is immediately at odds with Russia who are reportedly also bombing ISIS but seeking to strengthen Assad.
The domestic front
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the Prime Minister’s plans is that through his recklessness, he will essentially put London at the forefront of potential ‘Paris-Style’ attacks. More so, he will do so without really achieving anything except aimlessly bombing Syrian land.
Behind the bravado, the exaggerated Andrew Neil-esque eulogies, the inferiority complex that cries out for the need for the UK to be a major global power, and the ambitions of a Prime Minister fearful that his premiership will go down as a relative unknown in history, the reality is that there is no plan, nor an understanding of the complexities in combating not just ISIS but resolving the crisis in Syria. The risk that the Prime Minister is exposing his citizens to as a result of this reckless action is astonishing. But more importantly, the number of innocent civilian casualties, whose blood appears to be a legitimate price to pay for our own security as France duly demonstrated in their retaliation to the Paris attacks on Al-Raqqa, will far outweigh the number of ISIS fighters who will be killed.
In the words of Dennis Skinner, ‘what a crazy war…keep out’.