Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Syria: Air Strikes on the Way? How Should the Left React?

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Two RAF Tornado GR4's

Is ISIS massacre of 30 UK holidaymakers in Tunisia only the beginning?

Comments Paul Rogers on the Stop the War Coalition site.

He notes:

“..the great majority of people in the UK are hardly aware that this is a major war – and that Britain is at the centre of it.”


While one intention was seriously to wreck the Tunisian tourist industry, leading to higher unemployment and more anger and resentment, providing a better environment for recruiting young people to the IS cause, it was probably part of a much wider intention to bring the conflict home to the coalition of countries now engaged in the air war.

This makes for uncomfortable connections, especially as most people in Britain simply do not recognise that the country is part of a large coalition that has been waging a major air offensive on IS forces in Iraq and Syria for almost a year.

He concludes,

One of the grim ironies of the Sousse attack is that the appalling loss of life might alert more people in the UK to the true extent of the war. Equally, IS will no doubt encourage further attacks on the countries at war with it; counterterrorism forces in countries as far afield as the US, Australia, Canada, France and Britain will accordingly be intensifying their work.

It is just possible that the Sousse massacre will turn out to be an isolated attack on British nationals, but it’s very unlikely. The reality is that the war with IS in Iraq and Syria is beginning to extend beyond those countries and the region – even beyond the established battlegrounds ofAfghanistan and Libya. What happened to the holidaymakers in Sousse may only be the beginning of a new phase.


If it is a “war” against Daesh we can be sure we know today where the UK government stands.

Consider Syria IS strikes, defence secretary urges MPs

MPs should consider allowing Britain to bomb Islamic State targets in Syria, the defence secretary is to say.

The RAF has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since September but Michael Fallon will say Parliament should look at the case for missions in Syria too.

The UK does not need the backing of MPs to launch raids but Mr Fallon has said the Commons will have the final say.

He will suggest terrorist attacks, such as Friday’s tourist murders in Tunisia, may have been planned by IS in Syria.

Thirty of the 38 tourists killed on the beach in Sousse on 26 June have been confirmed as British. Student Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, said to have had links to IS, was shot dead by police after carrying out the attack.

Prime Minister David Cameron later said IS posed “an existential threat” to the West, and its members in Iraq and Syria were plotting “terrible attacks” on British soil.

The Mirror also notes,

Britain edged closer to bombing Islamic State extremists in Syria after the Defence Secretary said it was “illogical” to attack jihadists in Iraq but not over the border.

Michael Fallon said a new Commons vote would be needed before the RAF carried out air strikes against Islamist fighters in Syria.

But he insisted there was no “legal bar” blocking Britain from attacking extremists in either country.

RAF Tornados and drones have been bombing the jihadists in Iraq since last September as part of a US-led alliance.

But Mr Fallon said: “ISIS is organised and directed and administered from Syria and there’s an illogicality about not being able to do it there.”

Where does the StWC stand?

Will it ‘defend’ the genociders of Daesh, and the European volunteers for its racist Einsatzgruppen from this bombing?

We say:

Another foreign intervention in Syria and Iraq is a bad idea, ethically and in terms of Realpolitik. The UK and the West have not opposed support for the reactionary forces of Al Nusra and other Islamist murderers. Their allies, such as Saudi Arabia, actively back these reactionaries. They have not stood against the threat of Turkish ‘Neo-Ottoman’ policy. They had not stood against Shia sectarian killings in Iraq.

The possibility that they will encourage any kind of democratic outcome to the civil war, and a replacement for the Assad regime with a progressive alternative is non-existent.

But to make opposition to this  bombing our chief objective is wrong.

We should be backing the democratic, largely Kurdish forces, of the People’s Protection UnitsYekîneyên Parastina Gel,, battling the genociders and their International volunteers on the ground.

There is little we can do in this tumult, but we are must use all the resources we can to help our Kurdish sisters and brothers who are fighting for dear life.


Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2015 at 11:28 am

7 Responses

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  1. “Where does the StWC stand?”

    I’m assuming this is a rhetorical question, Andrew as the stance of the StWC will be opposition to any Western attack on Isis – no matter the cost to the Kurds and others.

    In your article, you put two points of view which, to my mind, are contradictory.

    “Another foreign intervention in Syria and Iraq is a bad idea, ethically and in terms of Realpolitik.”

    There is little we can do in this tumult, but we are must use all the resources we can to help our Kurdish sisters and brothers who are fighting for dear life.”

    If “we” must use all our resources to help the Kurds, surely we should not rule out the possibility of air strikes?

    Here is a report from the Independent (Feb 2015) –

    “An important aspect of the Kurdish offensive by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) is that it is receiving air cover with US Central |Command recording 21 airstrikes in two days against Isis ground positions and vehicles. This means that the US is now cooperating militarily with the YPG…

    Now for the first time there is evidence that this military cooperation between the Syrian Kurds and the US is continuing in offensive operations. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that Isis has lost 132 fighters killed in this area in Hasaka province since 21 February while only seven YPG fighters have been killed, including one foreigner. The disparity in casualties can only be explained by the extensive use of US airpower.

    “This is an important development,” says veteran Syrian Kurdish leader Omar Sheikhmous. “It means that the PYD [the political arm of YPG] has reached an understanding with the US about cooperation.” ”


    I think the crux of the matter should be what do those, especially the Kurds, say they want and need to fight Isis? If they believe that British air strikes can help to beat back Isis, then good.

    Who knows, though? Maybe John Rees and the StWC will come up with the kind of imaginative idea they had last year when they were calling on Hamas, the ANC and Venezuela to “arm the Kurds.” Except this time, perhaps Mr Rees will have a press conference with CAGE and Moazzam Begg to call on Al-Qaeda to help them.

    John R

    July 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

  2. Our key demand must be “Arm The Kurds”. Obama’s and Cameron’s failure to do this (and, according the the Telegraph, they’re actively blocking Arab states from doing so) is a disgrace that needs to be taken up: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11712237/US-blocks-attempts-by-Arab-allies-to-fly-heavy-weapons-directly-to-Kurds-to-fight-Islamic-State.html

    Jim Denham

    July 2, 2015 at 3:47 pm

  3. John, I don’t have fixed views on the conflicts in Syria and Iraq – for reasons too obvious to cite.

    So your contribution is welcome as a way of helping us to think clearly.

    I was referring to wholesale intervention in the Syrian civil war – UK bombing which is likely to herald just this.

    But as for immediate help for the Kurds..

    Well if US aid was good enough for the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War, then it’s good enough for Kobane and Rojava.

    Andrew Coates

    July 2, 2015 at 4:21 pm

  4. Predictably the StWC in the form of Lindsey German has just come out with the following:

    Bombing Syria in response to Tunisia will do nothing to stop further attacks

    Lindsey German 02 July 2015. Posted in Lindsey German Blog
    UK bombing Syria will just mean more resentment leading to more terrorism. It can be no solution.

    “Fallon’s proposal means more of the same: more bombing, more misery for ordinary people of the Middle East, more resentment leading to more terrorism. It can be no solution. ”


    As well this: The west normalised racist wars and thinks 1000lb bombs will solve Syria and Iraq

    Frankie Boyle 02 July 2015,

    “Internationally, I propose the radical step of not trying to solve complex political problems with 1,000lb bombs; domestically, I propose they start addressing inequality by paying reparations for slavery.

    I’m well aware that in a society where war and discrimination are now almost entirely normalised, both options sound like madness.”


    I have two proposals me: that Boyle shuts his unfunny gob, and that Lindsey German also keeps quiet until she has something to say about the resistance to Daesh and Islamist genociders (including their European recruits) in Syria and Iraq and in every shape and form across the world.

    No doubt the murderers ‘resent’ that as well.

    Andrew Coates

    July 2, 2015 at 5:22 pm

  5. That was an interesting Telegraph article, Jim. Thanks for that.

    It is scandalous if the Americans are stopping the Kurds from receiving heavy duty weaponry to fight Isis. Maybe now the story’s out, there will be more info coming out about why this is and pressure can be put on Obama to allow the weapons through.

    One thing is clear though. The likes of Lindsey German will play no part in opposing Isis.

    However, maybe the National Chair of StWC, Jeremy Corbyn, could play a positive role here. He is one of a number of Labour MPs who have concerned themselves with the Kurds. He is also (with other Labour MPs) on the Advisory Board of the “Centre for Kurdish Progress”. Interestingly, Gary Kent (Labour Friends of Iraq) is involved too.

    If Corbyn were to make a call to “Arm the Kurds” and demand, in Parliament, that the Americans allow the heavy duty weaponry through, he’d be doing the right thing. Christ, even Galloway called for the Kurds to be armed in the House of Commons last year.

    I have my doubts that Corbyn would do this though. It would upset too many of his backers on the Far Left, especially in StWC. His main calls last year (when he opposed air strikes to aid Kobane) were for Turkey to allow refugees safe passage. Nothing wrong with that in itself but it wasn’t what the Kurds wanted or needed then. The air strikes helped to save them.

    So, c’mon Jeremy! Prove this pessimistic cynic wrong and shout out, “Arm the Kurds!”



    John R

    July 2, 2015 at 6:24 pm

  6. Andrew, as I am posting again I must do my spike Boyle number. It is from an angle which would never have occurred to him in his utter ignorance. I am sure many would/will cheer.

    On JR’s point on existing collabs with the hated imperialists (and something which would naer occur to German). This is fab on the visuals >

    “the USAF arranged with the Kurdish YPG units defending Kobane to stage a video that would force IS men out into the open, where they could be killed on-camera, in a way that would send a message to potential recruits around the world.”

    Paul Canning

    July 2, 2015 at 11:36 pm

  7. […] 14. Campaigned against the RAF giving air support to those defending Kobane […]

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