Just over two years ago, David Cameron lost a vote on the UK taking part in bombing raids and other military action on Syria.
The plan then was for the UK to send military help to the opponents of Assad’s government. Since then (BBC, 12th March 2015):
Capitalising on the chaos in the region, Islamic State (IS) – the extremist group that grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq – has taken control of huge swathes of territory across northern and eastern Syria, as well as neighbouring Iraq. Its many foreign fighters in Syria are now involved in a “war within a war”, battling rebels and jihadists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, who object to their tactics, as well as Kurdish and government forces.
In September 2014, a US-led coalition launched air strikes inside Syria in an effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS, ultimately helping the Kurds repel a major assault on the northern town of Kobane.
Unnoticed in the timeline of the war, in 2012 a family fled from Damascus to survive: Abdullah, Rihan, Galip, and Aylan Shenu reached Turkey, where they were called “Kurdi” because of their ethnic background.
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, 11th July 2013:
Those Members with long memories will recall that interventions and arms supplies have all kinds of unintended consequences. When the Soviet Union went into Afghanistan in support of the Najibullah Government, who were under a lot of pressure, the USA responded by supplying vast quantities of arms to the mujaheddin opposition, along with training, facilities, logistics and all the other things that are now being talked about in relation to Syria. Those arms all ended up with what eventually became the Taliban, and then with what eventually became al-Qaeda, and they are still around and have perpetuated the most appalling situation in Afghanistan for many years, including our intervention in that country. We should think a little more carefully about where the arms go.
On 29th November 2013, a photojournalist on a rescue boat in the Aegean Sea took the photograph below of Rukhsan Muhammed struggling to keep her child Mirwan alive. Later, the photographer sold the image to Anadolu Agency (a state-run press agency in Turkey) which licenced it to Getty Images:
Rukhsan Muhammed, one of the passengers of the boat carrying Syrian refugees to Greek Islands fights for her life after the boat sinks at Aegean Sea near the coastal city of Balikesir, in Turkey on November 29, 2013. Rukhsan Muhammed told a new aspect of her family’s dramatic escape, to Turkish authorities during her appearance in court this week. She explained that following the accident she used her suitcase as a means of life preserver to keep her 1,5 years-old child, Mirwan Muhammed, from drowning. But despite of all her efforts her son fell off the suitcase and got lost amongst the waves.
Last Friday night, Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, former novelist, currently a columnist for Rupert Murdoch (she took the trouble to praise Murdoch highly when she was an MP and the Murdochs were being investigated by Parliament for phone-hacking) – came unstuck in her hashtag-related attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn when she confused Twitter’s autocomplete function with Google’s autocomplete function.
Google’s autocomplete function, while targeted towards you based on your location and search history, gives you an idea of what other people are searching on.
Twitter’s autocomplete function simply remembers your own previous searches. Louise Mensch had been searching Twitter for references to Liz Kendall (@LizForLeader) combined with “zionist”, “nazi”, “jewish”, “jews”.
When Mensch noticed this coming up in her Twitter autocomplete, she concluded the only reason someone would be doing this kind of search was because they were an anti-Semitic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. She therefore screenshotted this and posted it on Twitter – to have it pointed out to her that she was condemning her own search history as a “sewer”.
As ever, The Onion cuts to the quick of the matter. Given Syria has allies on the Security Council at the UN, there is no legal way for a United Nations member to take military action on Syria.
Just as the 2003 war on Iraq was not lawful.
James Fallows in The Atlantic:
Fact 1: Atrocities are happening in Syria. Fact 2: The United States has bombers, cruise missiles, and drones. Putting those two facts together does not make the second a solution to the first.
Only ten years after the disastrous “what could go wrong?” / “something must be done!” rush to war in Iraq, you would have thought these cautions would not need restatement. They do. In the face of evil we should do something, except when the something would likely make a bad situation worse.
We’ve done all this before.