Should the UK go to war in Syria?
Thousands of protesters in London Downing Street say NO!
Why shouldn’t we go to war in Syria?
Here are a few reasons:
- It will kill innocent civilians. There is no such thing as a bomb so smart that it always hits its target. No doubt, innocent people will die. Some people may argue that the UK airstrikes are not going to be that frequent in numbers; just a few bombs will be used to get ISIS. However, this is likely to be militarily ineffective and therefore pointless, but should they become significant, they will kill civilians.
- ‘When I say “War”, You say Welfare!’ Instead of spending billions on Trident, why not fund schools, housing, the NHS and jobs. Help the welfare state.
- It will not work. The US and its allies are already bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq without significant effect. ISIS is a violent and reactionary organization but more bombing will only increase bitterness against the West.
- It will increase the flow of refugees. More bombs means more destruction of houses, hospitals, schools and infrastructure and this in turn will mean more people fleeing Syria. Over the last year of US bombing the number of Syrian refugees has rocketed from about 2.7 million to over 4 million.
- More Western bombing will mean more Russian support for Assad. The Russians are already increasing their support for Assad, because rebels may overthrow him alongside ISIS—fuelling the proxy war perhaps? Russia supports Assad and his regime by claiming to fight ‘terrorism’, but instead seems to be fighting rebels as well as ISIS. The US supports the Syrian opposition within Syria (rebels), but not ISIS. The UK want to support the US.
- We need to learn from our mistakes.
- ‘I do not believe, that bombing Syria will make it any safer than bombing Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya!’ — Diane Abbott.
- ‘The ‘War on Terror’ has brought nothing but blood and destruction to Afghanistan and Iraq and has destabilized the Middle East and large parts of Africa. The 2011 intervention in Libya dramatically increased the rate of killing and led to Islamist radicalisation. There is no reason to think the outcome will be any different in Syria’. — Stop the War Coalition
History repeats itself?
- However, how do we know what things would be like in the Middle East if the UK hadn’t taken action? What would Libya look like today? Gaddafi, being the ruthless dictator that he was, could’ve brutally defeated his enemies (civilians), atrocities could have been far worse than what they are today e.g., more Libyan refugees. Arguably though, there would be greater control of borders than there currently is. Still, there are not many Libyan refugees in Europe but it is a popular route, through Libya, for refugees to come to Europe from Africa.Some interesting messages:
What can we do instead of going to war?
- Cut Supplies: Stop supplying arms to ISIS. Musician Eno said: ‘Why don’t we start doing the clever thing and follow the money’. He was referring to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who sponsor terrorist networks in Syria.
- Negotiation: Confronting the disparate ideologies between those willing to negotiate. This is complex because Syria is a sectarian state (Shias, Sunnis, Alawis—form of Shiite), so it will be difficult to reach a compromise considering the differing ideologies. It will also be difficult to negotiate between Syrian rebels and Bashar, let alone ISIS. Let’s say the negotiations go well, there is still a risk that Bashar or others will not stick to their word—as happened in Yemen, where Ali Abdullah Saleh promised to step down from presidency, but turned out to be working with the Yemen rebels (Houthis) in secret in return for his immunity (i.e., to protect himself from trial). It’s like the saying ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. This was the case during the war in Afghanistan, where the US funded and supported the Afghans since they were the enemies of what was then known as the Soviet Union.
- Defeating the ideology of ISIS: The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught the lesson of reconciliation when granting amnesty to the people of Mecca who ‘turned me [him] out of my house and when I took refuge in a far-off place, you [people of Mecca] rose to fight against me. However in spite of your crimes, I forgive you all and make you free’. This shows the Prophet resorting to forgiveness and not revenge.
- Peace Treaty: Rwanda signed a peace treaty in November 2007, to move forward from the genocide which murdered 800,000 Tutsis within 100 days. President Paul Kagame who was of Tutsi tribe came into power in 2000. Despite the massacre of his people, he did not seek revenge and because of that Rwanda was able to move forward. The same happened with South Africa when Nelson Mandela was elected President on May 10, 1994. He preached reconciliation and forgiveness, instead of seeking retribution against the white people of South Africa. Look at South Africa today. Negotiation and reconciliation is the way forward. I think the Syrian people need to apply this approach, as well as the rest of the world.We should however bear in mind that different countries may lead to different outcomes.’Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders’. — Former UN Secretary General Koﬁ Annan.