This week MPs were discussing Syria as if Islamic State were responsible for the Tunisia shootings. They weren’t. David Cameron is far more responsible for the Tunisia killings than IS were, Cameron was responsible for the bombing of Libya that caused the current anarchy there. Anarchy in which the Tunisia terrorist trained.
On January 29, 2002 President Bush described an “axis of evil” of Iran, Iraq and North Korea and blamed them for the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks on the USA. Despite most of the perpetrators of these attacks being Saudi Arabian and both the finance and leadership being Saudi Arabian. We then illegally invaded Iraq and a million people died. Cameron is doing exactly the same, blaming IS for Tunisia when they didn’t do it.
In fact Islamic State took no action against the West and were busy building their nation until we interfered and attacked them, when we had no real justification. We started killing Islamic State people in air strikes on 8 August 2014. They started killing Western hostages (James Wright Foley) on 19 August 2014. Hardly surprising that they retaliated really. And stupid of us because eventually we will have no option but to talk to them, just as we talk to every other country. Islamic State are a country bigger than Great Britain.
Syria is an incredible mess and the vast bulk of the problems there are caused by President Assad. Islamic State merely took over territory that a power vacuum created. Here are some facts:
- Estimated death toll as of April 2015 is 310,000. Mostly civilians.
- More than 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced, almost 4 million of these have fled to countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt and become refugees.
- Assad has broken international law by repeatedly using chemical warfare against his citizens.
- The Assad regime routinely uses torture against anyone and everyone they can. This is a major feature of this regime. Torturing people to death is also a widespread practice.
- Helicopters are used on a very large scale to drop oil barrels full of explosives on citizens. Bread queues are a favourite target so that they can maximise the slaughter. They also relentlessly use of cluster munitions, a banned weapon, against civilians.
- The total economic cost of the Syrian Civil War will reach $237 billion by the end of 2015, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
So what should we in the West do? The best thing is nothing. We have been interfering in the Middle East since the Sykes Picot Agreement in May 1916 (the root cause of a lot of the current problems) and the Balfour declaration of November 1917 (the root cause of many more). Just about every time we act, every time we interfere, we make things worse. Usually a lot worse, just look at the immense harm caused by Bush and Blair.
One possible exception is the no fly zones enforced by the West on Iraq from 1991 until 2003. These protected the Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south. During the 12 years of enforcement only 4 Iraqi planes needed to be shot down and it took about 50 Western fighters to maintain the zone.
If we must interfere in Syria perhaps the best thing we can do is to maintain a similar no fly zone over the country. This would stop the large scale killing of civilians from the air and would split the country up into the defined zones in the map above with sporadic fighting on the front lines. This should allow many refugees to return home. We could very easily run such a campaign from the large air bases at Akrotiri in Cyprus and Incirlik in Turkey which are both close. Putin would not be very happy, which is an added bonus, it is about time he had a slap down.