June 16, 2014
The situation in Iraq is dire. It is now in the midst of a sectarian civil war which will inevitably involve several more Middle Eastern countries in some form or another. Already Qassim al-Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds force is said to be in Baghdad along with members of the Revolutionary Guard directing operations and preparing for battle with ISIS. If the Iranians appear to the Saudis, Qataris and other UAE nations etc to be exerting excessive control and influence in Iraq they will start to worry and may end up funding any Sunni group fighting in Iraq. In any event ISIS seems to be very well funded and its horrific slaughter of the Shia Iraqi soldiers it captured shows what its intentions are as far as the Shias are concerned. If reports of the amount of money ISIS has access to are accurate, with some suggestions of it potentially having $1.5billion then the wars in Iraq and Syria will be long drawn out affairs and very bloody.
What will be interesting to see is how the Iraqi Sunnis not aligned to ISIS or Al Qaeda will now respond. Previously they fought groups such as Al Qaeda and more or less defeated them – this time it is doubtful they will side with Nouri al-Maliki’s government which has been very sectarian in its dealings with them. If groups such as the Naqshbandi Army and Ansar al-Sunnah Army align themselves with ISIS with some suggestions of this having already occured then the Iraqi government is unlikely to survive without extensive help from the Iranians especially as the US and UK have categorically ruled out any military intervention.
The West and in particular the United States had an opportunity when the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people to launch air strikes and support moderate forces in Syria which would have in all probability led to the downfall of the Assad regime. The West backed away and the support the Assad regime received from Iran allowed it to cling to power with the effect that moderate forces in Syria gradually became marginalised by groups such as ISIS whose brutality and success against anyone it fought led to more recruits to its cause and to its inevitable move into Iraq to cut off supplies to the Assad regime, widen its war against the Shias and try and establish a caliphate.
The west unless it intervenes militarily or starts to arm a particular group has its hands tied and is not in any position to do anything meaningful. And it is for that reason that the US is considering talks with Iran….the enemy of my enemy is my friend and no longer evil! Realpolitik or an acknowledgement that the US policy on Syria has spectacularly backfired? What happens in the short term in Iraq is now going to be more important to how events will unfold in the Middle East than what happens in Syria.
May 26, 2014
UKIP winning the Euro election will have come as no surprise to anyone who has been out canvassing these past few weeks. The mood of the electorate was very apparent and an anti-establishment/Westminster vote was always going be registered.
What was surprising was the decimation of the Liberal Democrat vote, and is ‘just reward’ for a string of broken manifesto promises and for taking a pro EU line that was bordering on the ridiculous. I suspect that there is more woe to come for the Liberals at next year’s general election.
The opening up of our borders to immigration from new member states in the EU was always going to lead to a backlash from voters especially at a time when the economy has more room to recover. While unemployment is significantly down and important economic indicators are all pointing in the right direction it will nevertheless take time for the full effects of this recovery to filter through especially to those areas which were hurt the most during the recession under Labour.
While the principle of freedom of movement of persons between EU members is a sound one, it only works effectively when this movement is between people in states with similar living standards and similar incomes. Where there is a divergence in these factors between nations, then the movement of persons primarily in one direction with an obligation to also provide benefits to those arriving will inevitably create difficulties and tensions within communities. Those arriving and settling in specific areas of the country also leads to pressure on the education and health services and can lead to additional problems, and when a political party incessantly highlights these concerns then it is inevitable that its message will resonate with voters which is what UKIP has effectively done.
As things stand the hands of any government are tied in dealing with this problem. Either there is an effective re-negotiation with other EU states in this and in other areas where there is a plethora of diktats and legislation emanating from Brussels or we simply pull out of the EU -anything else is simply tinkering at the edges. The Conservative Party is the only party committed to re-negotiation and to holding an in/out referendum and unless it gains a majority at the next general election we’ll be having more or less the same debate and discussion at the next Euro election.
August 30, 2013
While the will of Parliament and democracy has prevailed the decision taken last night is totally and utterly wrong. How this country can sit idly by and give Assad’s regime the green light to use more chemical weapons against innocent people is beyond comprehension. I hope the US and other nations now do the right thing and give the appropriate response to the Syrian regime’s acts of genocide.
I’ll do a detailed post later as I am absolutely livid at the moment. However, I really do hope Ed Miliband never ever gets close to becoming leader, or allowed to take any decision which affects this country. No doubt his general election manifesto will now include the UK giving up her seat at the UN Security Council because if his view is that we shouldn’t get involved when chemical weapons have been used then there will be no circumstances when he will believe the UK military should get involved.
August 27, 2013
The Prime Minister has just tweeted:
“Speaker agrees my request to recall Parliament on Thurs. There’ll be a clear Govt motion & vote on UK response to chemical weapons attacks”
A few days I posted that if chemical weapon use by the Syrian regime was established then some form of intervention would be inevitable. The momentum for direct action is now building and some form of military action by the West I suspect is now only a matter of time.
August 21, 2013
If it is confirmed that chemical weapons have been used today in an attack by the Syrian government then this represents a serious escalation in this conflict and will most likely mean that there will be some form of intervention by a coalition of countries whether a UN mandate is secured or not. Bearing in mind that the war in Iraq was entered into on the premise, which turned out to be false that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction he was preparing to use then the actual use of chemical weapons by a dictatorial regime in the same region will be impossible to ignore.
With the continued unrest in Egypt and in other neighbouring countries, the Middle East has become in recent months an extremely volatile region.
August 14, 2013
A military led government will apply military solutions to its problems and it should come as no surprise that this morning Egyptian security forces have started to use extreme force to clear supporters of former President Morsi camped at two sites in Cairo.
The obvious and first lesson the West should learn from this whole sorry saga is that elections do not always equate to a satisfactory or friendly democratic government and Western leaders should not get giddy when elections take place and think a western style liberal democracy will be installed the day after the election.
Secondly if the West supports elections (held fairly of course) and democratically elected governments in places where dictators/military ruled then it must be prepared for the outcome that governments which it does not particularly like or agree with will get elected! And even in this scenario the west should support the process by which the government was elected even if not the actual government. Otherwise you end up with the situation in Egypt where an obvious military coup wasn’t described as such and the west now finds itself in limbo between the proverbial rock and a hard place where it didn’t condemn outright military intervention and the ousting of an elected president and now has to look on as civilians are dealt violently by security forces and the country begins its descent into violent civil unrest.
The stance of the west in Egypt will also be viewed by various parties elsewhere in the Middle East who will no doubt conclude that coming to power through the ballot box is no guarantee of acceptance or legitimacy in government by the West and conclude that they should use means other than the ballot box to come to power.
January 12, 2010
I have to say that I wasn’t impressed at all with the questioning of Alastair Campbell this morning at the Iraq Inquiry. The questioning was far too disjointed, lame and obvious follow up questions were not asked. What’s the point of holding such an inquiry if the panel doesn’t have the expertise to thoroughly examine and cross examine a key player in Government in the run up to the Iraq War. It was frustrating to say the least and embarrassing to watch when the most obvious follow up questions weren’t asked. I doubt Tony Blair or any other senior person involved in the decision to go to war will fear giving evidence based on today’s extremely poor performance by the panel. I would adjourn the whole process and get some decent lawyers in who would justify the extremely high costs to the taxpayer of holding this Inquiry. Pathetic really!!