I cannot support the Government’s proposal to bomb Iraq again.
I share all the revulsion of the brutality of IS.
The filmed beheadings struck home so deeply its barbarity.
I hope so much that the public appeal from so many Muslims in our country for the life of Alan Henning is successful and this good man is allowed to return to his family.
I do not believe that the UK’s involvement in a bombing campaign will save Alan’s life and is more likely to create greater bloodshed and instability in the Middle East and increase the risks of harm in our own country.
The bombing campaigns in both the Iraq wars over the last decade are estimated to have cost, at a conservative estimate, over 700,000 lives.
UK involvement in the wars have served as the motivating recruiting sergeant for young people in our own country to join terrorist groups to such an extent that the lowest estimates of Britain’s now fighting in Iraq and Syria puts the number at 500.
The US and UK’s re-engagement in a war in Iraq is exactly what IS wants.
It contributes to the transformation of a regional sectarian infighting within the Islamic community into the potential of a global jihad.
Will we ever learn from Britain’s history of military adventures in the Middle East?
For over a century Britain and the West have invaded, bombed, toppled regimes, suppressed popular democratic movements, installed puppet dictators, and imposed the lines of mythical borders on sand which have created a region of instability where once there were great civilisations.
Even learning the lessons of the last decade might help us.
From Afghanistan, to Iraq and Libya, our military interventions have created chaos.
IS can even be seen as a direct product of Britain’s failed war strategy in Iraq.
The barbarity of IS has to be confronted but it is for the Middle Eastern powers themselves to resolve this situation in their own region.
The onus falls upon Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Iran and Turkey to prevent the spread and brutality of IS in their region.
This is especially so, for it was some of these states that helped promote the extremist distortions of Islam from which IS developed, allowed their countries to be used as the funding base for IS, and turned a blind eye to IS brutality as long as it suited their purposes.
For as long as these countries sit on their hands either doing nothing or supplying only tokenistic support to the resistance to IS, the West will not only be dragged into doing their dirty work for them but in doing so will increasingly become the target of a global jihadist terror campaign.
There is a bizarre irony that a range of nominally Christian countries are fighting a war by proxy in part resulting from the deep divisions within Islam.
It is also ironic that the weapons being turned on their enemies by IS were flooded into the region by Britain and the US either given to the Iraqi army or sold to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan.
If, as likely, Parliament agrees that Britain participates in the bombing of Iraq, mission creep is almost inevitable and within a limited time there will be a further request to sanction the extension of action to Syria.
Yet again the UN is being virtually side lined and international law manipulated to sanction aggression by Western powers.
I will vote against Britain’s participation in military action because it will not only cost lives but store up further risks and disasters for the future.
There is a role for Britain in this crisis.
It is a humanitarian role, providing humanitarian support and aid under the auspices of the UN.
We should be peacemakers, conflict resolvers, no longer aggressors.
I wish to quote the wise words of Salim Lome, former UN spokesperson in Iraq, who said:
“The use of force is sometimes necessary. But without simultaneous political steps to address deep seated grievances against both the west and Arab governments, it will feed sectarian division and the extremists’ ranks. Yet there is not even a hint that tackling these grievances is part of the current thinking. The war that Obama has embarked on with the backing, and probable eventual participation of Britain is therefore a recipe for endless conflict and endlessly widening circles of radicalisation.”
I urge people to heed his warning.