On 15th February 2003 I was one of the 3 million people who marched through the streets of London, one of 600 cities that held protests around the world at what was then, the imminent bombing of Iraq.
You might think that such a big, and a global show of feeling would have at least slowed down the march towards the invasion, but days later, on March 19th, George Bush announced:
“On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign…..My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail. ”
His words could not have turned out to be more ironic: the invasion, turned into an occupation.
No thought was given to what came next.
Credible estimates of Iraq War casualties range from 150,000 to 460,000. Iraq’s armed factions still remain locked in a struggle with the forces of the Islamic State.
This morning we woke up to the news Britain, France and the US had launched air strikes on Syria, or as Donald Trump put it:
“The nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality.”
To quote Jeremy Corbyn “Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace.”
This action occurred despite Reports saying UN Inspectors were in Damascus last night to carry out inspection of Douma today.
The UK could have enabled the inspection and not joined the US & France launch strikes in Syria.
The BBC are reporting that Theresa May pushed for an early strike “to avoid having to get parliamentary consent”.
This while we lecture other countries on democracy!
The Syrian conflict began seven years ago as a peaceful uprising against the president, but has now turned into a full-scale civil war.
Many groups and countries are involved and perhaps unsurprisingly the jihadist groups Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda have flourished.
The US, UK, France and other Western countries have provided varying degrees of support for what they consider “moderate” rebels. A global coalition they lead has also carried out air strikes on IS militants in Syria since 2014 and helped an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) capture territory from the jihadists.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group with a network of sources on the ground, had documented the deaths of 353,900 people (up to March 2018).
This includes 106,000 civilians. 1.5 million people have been left with permanent disabilities, including 86,000 who have lost limbs.
At least 6.1 million Syrians are internally displaced, while another 5.6 million have fled abroad.
The figures do not include 56,900 people who it said were missing and presumed dead. The group also estimated 100,000 deaths had not been documented.
Neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where 92% of them now live, have struggled to cope with one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history.
As the 6th richest economy, you might have expected the UK to play a role in aiding the civilalians, but the truth is this country is incentivised to pursue conflict for profit.
But as I wrote a few months back Britain is the worlds second biggest arms exporter.(https://theavengeruk.com/2017/09/13/blood-on-our-hands-london-hosts-worlds-biggest-arms-fair-by-kelly-grehan/).
In July 2014 the then Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed to Parliament that the UK had indeed exported chemicals that “were likely to have been diverted for use in the Syrian programme”.
This morning David Cameron said “I firmly support the military action taken in Syria. The barbaric & intolerable use of chemical weapons should never go unchecked.”
Yet, 10 months after the Syrian uprising David Cameron granted chemical export licences to British firms so they could supply chemical weapons to Syria!!
Here is an idea for you David, maybe we could prevent chemical weapons attacks by NOT SELLING CHEMICAL WEAPONS.
Maybe Britain has redeemed itself with its’ efforts to secure safety for those who have left Syria?
In 2016, Lord Dubs sponsored an amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 to offer unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain amidst the European migrant crisis. Originally rejected by the House of Commons, the amendment was eventually accepted by the government following a second vote in favour by the Lords.
In February 2017, the Home Office abandoned the scheme after accepting just 350 out of the planned 3,000 child refugees.
To quote David Lammy MP “We have today found ourselves in the morally untenable position of bombing Syria without Parliament voting at the same time as refusing to take in child refugees who are fleeing the bombing in Syria. As a society we must reflect hard on how we have ended up in this situation.”