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In the wake of the attacks in Paris last week French President Francois Hollande has vowed to take an additional 6000 refugees than previously promised, something many are likely to see as an ethical move, not when you consider his other pledge though. He has pledged a ‘merciless & pitiless’ war which will involve a heavy insurgence of air strikes in Syria . His air strikes will create more refugees in the region, without a doubt many more than 6000. Air strikes seem to be a case of ‘we need to do something’, this is not the answer though; we need to do the right thing.
The first argument against air strikes is that they kill civilians, that’s a fact. Just last week 20 civilians were killed by a US air strike in Raqqa, this adds to the many more who have lost their lives through the ‘war on terror’. People in Syria have two options; stay and risk death from Western strikes or flee in the hope someone will take them in. Air strikes will kill innocent civilians and create many more refugees.
Secondly, there is no evidence air strikes work. The US has bombed Syria 1,600 times in less than a year, it didn’t stop the Paris attacks, it didn’t stop the Beirut attacks, it didn’t stop the Baghdad attacks, so why then do we think they will stop future attacks? The Pentagon estimate they have killed between 15,000 & 20,000 people linked to IS in air strikes, it clearly has done nothing to impact the work of the group. In fact, IS recruited more than 6000 new fighters in the first month of US bombing of Syria. Air strikes is exactly what IS want, it creates more unrest allowing them to occupy more areas of Syria & Iraq. It also hammers home the narrative they have that the West are lawless, evil, war mongers intent on destroying ‘Islam’ - it will result in more recruits.
A question also remains; who are we bombing? In 2013 David Cameron lost his vote to bomb Syria, back then he wanted to bomb Assad, this would have helped IS. Now he wants to bomb IS, which will help Assad, the same Assad he claims to be against. The war in Syria is complicated; Assad is fighting rebels & IS, Russia are backing Assad but only fighting IS, the US aren't backing Assad but are fighting IS. There are many more branches to the war but the bottom line is that these air strikes are a way of simplifying a very complicated issue.
What are the answers? A complicated issue has complex answers but firstly our government, and others, must stop their arming of Saudi Arabia. The previous coalition government sold £4 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, foreign secretary Philip Hammond recently declared he’d like to see us selling even more than we currently do. On the very same day of the Paris attacks the US were approving an arms deal with the Saudi state, worth $1.9 billion. The Saudi state are not just human rights abusers but backers of IS & there is no doubt arms they have find their way in to the hands of terrorists.
We also need to cut the funding of IS, their main source of funding is oil. According to the Iraq Oil Report they are smuggling 125 oil tankers a day out of Iraq, it is then sold on earning them $1.125 million, every day. There’s no proof on who is buying the oil but it is logical to suggest it finds its way to Western energy companies. Is our very own energy usage making us complicit in terrorist activities?
The peace process in Syria is also vital, sadly it has been allowed to get to breaking point leaving the procedure a difficult one. Western governments though should sit down with Assad and the rebels to create a solution as democratic and fair as possible. One of Assads biggest backers is Russia who are being excluded from any peace talks by the US & UK, leaving them out will create another twist to the already complex issue. Personal differences must be put to one side to create a peaceful solution.
David Cameron will be planning a vote on air strikes at some point soon, it’s likely he will ensure he has the backing of enough MP’s before doing so, losing the vote again would be disastrous for him. We therefore urge you to contact your local MP, particularly if they are a Conservative, and encourage them to vote against any such proposal. More air strikes puts us all at risk.
BY JOE HUGHES 20/11/2015