Whose side are we on now in the Middle East?

When I and others opposed UK military intervention in Syria, we did so in part because we did not see a side we wished to be on. We were no admirers of Assad, spun then as the demon dictator,  whom Mr Hague wanted to oust from office. We were told there were moderate opposition forces who could take over and run  a western style democratic government, if we helped them dislodge the dictator.

I read about the opposition, and met some of them when Mr Hague invited them to London. It was already clear that parts of the opposition had more in common with Al Qaeda than with western liberal style democracy. One of the dangers lay in arming the so called moderate rebels, only to see the weapons get into the hands of the terrorist rebels either by agreement or by violence.

Today we learn of the capture of Idlib by Jabhat-al-Nusra, an important part of the Syrian opposition forces but scarcely a group of pro western moderates. Syria is now split between Assad in Damascus, Al Nusra in Idlib and ISIL in Raqqa.

Meanwhile conflict has spread to Yemen, with Saudi and other Sunni forces intervening militarily against the Shia interests. Libya remains badly war torn and split into warring bands.

I do not want the UK supporting either Sunni or Shia forces in these religious wars. I do not see how we could intervene helpfully to try to settle a democratic answer to the governing problems of Iraq, Syria, Libya or Yemen. The recent conquest of Idlib is a reminder of how complex these wars are, and how well supported on the ground some of the extremist movements still are.

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50 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Indeed we should only ever intervene when when the case for UK intervention is overwhelming, when we have the numbers of forces and the equipment needed available and when intervention will almost certainly be successful and make things far better.

    We are miles away from that position. We were also clearly miles away from it in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

    • Hope
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Ah, but your leader does. Left to his own devices he would be side by side with Obama wrecking Syria as he did Libya! Junker wants to wage war on Russia, in his quest to get his EU army to implement his EU foreign policy that your leader is happy to go along with. Still no cogent reason why Cameron has cut military spending and will continue to do so, in contrast to throwing away hard earned taxpayers’ money on overseas aid which successive political reports demonstrates is overwhelmingly wasted. Moreover, a sixth of our £14 billion is spent by the EU without any say from any UK politician or taxpayer, poor Cameron economics and judgement in full glare. JR, you need to think of a better way to influence Cameron and his pro- Euro fanatical team.
      I read Michael Meacher blog claiming, effectively, that Darling reduced the deficit more in his two final years than Osborne has in five years. Could confirm if their is correct?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        My leader?

  2. bluedog
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    With a large Sunni population, the UK is invariably a supporter of the Sunni faction in Middle Eastern disputes where the issue is Sunni versus Shia. In the case of intra-Sunni disputes, it becomes more complicated although the UK can be relied upon to back any Hashemite house that is in power. Indeed, one can argue that the UK is itself a Sunni faction in terms of the Middle Eastern power structure.

    It is to be hoped that support for Israel would trump all of the above in the event that Israel faces an existential threat. In this regard the nuclear threat from Iran presents a surprisingly simple choice in so far as Iran is conveniently Shia.

    China’s increasing propensity for involvement in the Middle East will present UK analysts with additional complexity. Would a sharp word from China that the UK’s market access was at risk unless the UK supported a Chinese Middle Eastern favourite lead to a cave-in and reversal of previous British policy? Would the UK change policy at China’s behest and oppose a US position? Perish the thoughts.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      It’s not just the large Sunni population in UK,its the degree of bought influence that is an issue.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      “In this regard the nuclear threat from Iran presents a surprisingly simple choice in so far as Iran is conveniently Shia.”

      Only for those who are not, in point of fact, English.

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Iran has over 200 years of domestic consumption worth of natural gas .

      On the other hand they’ve seen what happens to countries which do not have nuclear weaponry .

      When Iran obtains it’s own nuclear weapons , Israel may be forced to prove it has them as well and is not bluffing .

      China’s human rights record is no better than Iran’s or Saudi Arabia’s and all are considerably worse than Israel’s .

      I don’t think any of those countries have anything which the ordinary Westerner needs so badly as to warrant overlooking the human rights issues such as (word left out ed) in China .

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      There is no reason for the UK government to take sides in the Sunni-Shiite disputes at present taking place in the Middle East. It must be fairly clear that the UK does not decide foreign policy issues on whether a particular position promotes this or that religion. I suppose there are more Christians than any other religious group in the UK. That did not stop the UK supporting the Kosovo Moslems against the Christian Serbs.

      The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is one of the most intractable and vicious disputes in the world today. The UK government should stay a million miles away for it. No major British interest is involved, whether the Palestinians get their way and Israel ceases to exist or the Zionists get their way and a Greater Israel from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates is formed.

      When people talk of the nuclear threat from Iran to Israel, I sometimes wonder if there has been a misprint. Surely they know that it is Israel that has multiple nuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them?

      Given that UK intervention in the Middle East has been such a series of failures, we should be happy if the Chinese wish to enter this vale of tears for us. More fool them. Given that the only valuable resource from that region is oil, would it not be simpler for the UK to stop fooling around there and bring fracking up to speed in this country?

      • bluedog
        Posted April 3, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        You say with regard to Israel, ‘No major British interest is involved’. Profoundly disagree. Israel is the only Middle-Eastern country with a parliamentary democracy based on British precedents that include an independent judiciary and a legal code based on the Common Law. Bearing in mind that Israel generates something like 10,000 new patents a year, the loss to the global economy of that creative output would be immense. ‘Palestine’ on the other hand, survives largely on EU grants. The inevitably demise of the EU may cause something of a shock in the Middle East.

  3. alan jutson
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Yes a very complicated mess indeed.

    We are best out of it, other than be willing to give diplomatic advise, as and when required.

    The well worn saying, good strong high fences make for good neighbours springs to mind here, and may help a little, those Country’s closest to the regions in question, to stop the chaos spreading a little.

    Given that within the EU we have few border checks, should any of these extremists manage to get into the EU, they are then free to roam at will throughout the region.

    The free movement of people, also means the free movement of terrorists.

    We are fortunate to have water between us and the rest of the EU, but strong border policing is also required at airports, stations and ports.

    Just out of interest when does a freedom Fighter become a terrorist, and when does a terrorist become a politician ?

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      “Given that with the EU we have few border checks should any of these extremists manage to get into the EU….”

      It may be too late,as they may already be here – given the boatloads of refugees setting sail across the Mediterranean from an Islamist infiltrated Libya whose landing on European shores is facilitated by rescue operations and who are then allowed to wander across Europe.

    • outsider
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Your last point, Alan, is covered by the old epigram (I slightly misquote) “If treason doth prosper, none dare call it treason”. Otherwise totally agree.

  4. Richard1
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    All this disaster stems from the Labour Governments decision to invade Iraq in 2003. They are getting off remarkably lightly. No one who sat round the cabinet table when this terrible decision was taken should now be eligible for public office or have any public platform.

    • DaveM
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      I agree that the invasion of Iraq was flawed in every respect and the job wasn’t finished. I was there so I have fairly reliable evidence that the war wasn’t over and the Americans just wanted some sort of result in retaliation for 9/11.

      But, ultimately, the damage was done after the war – read ‘Imperial Life in the Imperial City’ by Rajiv Chandrasekaran if you want details of the most horrendously managed ‘Reconstruction’ in history. The disbandment of the Iraqi Army was the biggest cock-up of all: they were generally secular patriots who were glad to see the back of the old regime and who would have done a good job of fixing their country. ‘Understand’ is one of the most important Mission Verbs in military planning, and the failure of the US-led coalition to understand the dynamics of Iraq and the significance of Ba’ath Party membership was shocking.

      Iraq should never have been the target, but God forbid we should have done anything to upset the Saudis (who spawned most of the 9/11 instigators and planners) – etc ed

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 3, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        The invasion of Afghanistan was the legitimate retaliation for 9/11, it had become a nest of vipers which had to be cleaned out. Iraq in 2003 was an optional extra, with Iran being lined up as the next enemy of the US to sort out after Iraq had been dealt with. That was the plan which was being seriously talked about in some crazy quarters at that time.

    • outsider
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Dear Richard, The Blair Government was terribly keen on apologising on my behalf for things 150 or 200 years ago, long before universal suffrage. The one thing we should apologise for, because it was our collective responsibility, is the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I would like to see the next prime minister speak to the United Nations making a formal apology to the people of the Middle East while explaining why we thought we were doing the right thing for them. I feel that most ordinary British folk would actually like such an apology to be made, without expecting any positive benefits to come from it.

  5. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    This is a clash between those that believe in factual correctness and those that find it more comforting to rely upon a lazy political correct version of the truth – that all cultures and lifestyles are equal.

    Cultures in the middle East are not like and do not want to be like us. Many welcome the barbaric actions of ISIS – there seems to be no shortage of men and their children willing to watch public executions. These people are often dirt poor and uneducated… and in no mood to start listening to the Today program on Radio 4 and playing cricket etc.

    Strong dictators like Saddam Hussein and Assad are needed to keep the peace – unfortunately Liberals in the West couldn’t admit this…

    • DaveM
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Absolutely. If our western leaders would only understand that democracy ends half-way in to Turkey we’d all be better off. Even Turkey’s democracy is dubious. And unless someone with the vision and character of Attaturk emerges in Syria or Iraq, democracy will never fit the Middle East.

  6. John E
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    We are lucky that the U.S. has been able to increased its domestic oil production, reducing the demand for Middle Eastern output. It is strange to see oil at lower prices given this level of turmoil in producing countries.
    But we can’t count on this low price lasting and need to move ahead of all fronts to reduce our dependence on imported energy. Fracking, nuclear, supporting the North Sea, renewables, and research into new technologies . We must not be fooled by the current low oil price. The turmoil now looks like spreading to Saudi Arabia – anarchy could soon follow.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      …and re-establishing good relations with Russia would be helpful too.If we have to have a measure of energy dependency frankly I’d rather it was Russia rather the House of Saud (which will surely be toppled at some future stage) we were dependent on.

      Incidentally,I wonder if Russia has any covert involvement with the current situation in Yemen,as a friend of Iran and with a hostile attitude to Saudi Arabia you could suspect so and it would be payback for the oil price crash too!

  7. Posted April 2, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    If we became embroiled again in the never-ending conflict between Shia and Sunni , we would only have to extricate ourselves from a bigger mess . The sooner one of these 2 sides finally puts “paid” to the other the better . Oil should no longer feature in the argument as it has done in the past ; staying out and staying “clean” is the right decision and posture .

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 3, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      That conflict has been running for nearly fifteen hundred years, and there seems to be no end to it in sight.

  8. Matt
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    The world is in real danger of entering a new dark age.
    Every day the influence of Islamic fundamentalism grows and secularism retreats.
    Fear of Islamic fundamentalists is already eroding our liberties at home as I’m sure we’ve all noticed.
    If we face it now, before it becomes too strong, we can still win.

    I understand that it can be frustrating when treasure and blood are expended seemingly to no avail, but when facing what is almost certain to become a military threat to all that we hold dear we can’t rely on diplomacy alone and we certainly can’t just sit back and watch it unfold.

    You pray to whatever gods you see fit, but your god is the boss of you and not of me. What’s more he is not the highest authority in the land, the law is.
    Obviously this is not directed personally at our host.

  9. oldtimer
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    You ask a very good question. It looks like a more complicated Middle East version of the Thirty Years War with many years yet to run and the added complication of Israel in the mix. Should it be studied (ie pragmatic) neutrality? Siding with the established powers was rejected in Libya and in Syria and the attempt to pick winners in both countries has not worked has it?

  10. majorfrustration
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Putting aside the political ego tripping that goes on even when we don’t have the military capacity to do anything lets just leave the Muslims alone. Eventually they will realise that killing each other achieves nothing or maybe its their way of life.

  11. Graham
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately that’s what politicians do completely without thought – interfere.

    It doesn’t matter what the subject is – here we talk about the Middle East – but it could be plastic bags, road signs or the economy – no topic is beyond being used by the blowhards to make a name for themselves at someone’s else’s expense of course.

    Was it always thus.

  12. Atlas
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    “Whose side are we on?” you ask. A good question! “From pillar to post” seems to sum up our involvement there.

  13. agricola
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    First consider what problems a Middle East in turmoil poses for the UK.
    1. It jeopardises our access to energy sources in the area.

    2.It puts under threat our trade route via the Suez Canal.

    3. It ultimately threatens our neighbours and NATO allies if allowed to establish itself.

    4. Returning Jihadis threaten very directly our security within the UK when they come back to live within a community that is already demonstrably alien to all we may revere as the British way of life. For our hosts peace of mind I have refrained from any detail as to their alienation.

    5. It threatens the only true democracy in the Middle East namely Israel. A country that deserves our support.

    You can pretend that all the above is an exaggeration, that if you ignore the problem it will go away, and you can appease whatever faction out there takes your fancy. Any of this you do at your peril. Nor can you leave it to other Middle East states to sort out. They need support and encouragement .

    When deciding who you wish to support the key factor is who is the most evil and alien. We had the same situation in WW2. Should we support the USSR who had only just found themselves an enemy of Nazi Germany. At the time it was relatively easy, Nazi Germany was bombing our cities and not many people knew much about the USSR, beyond the fact that the Nazis were bombing them too.

    You may not like Assad , but before his regime was threatened from within it was relatively settled. There is no Arab regime you could point to as an example of democratic rule, so ones decisions must start from a low point on the scale of desirability.
    You could say the same about Iraq until we opened the door within Iraq to every dissident faction available there.

    My conclusion is that ISIS and anyone like them is the epitome of evil, and therefore a suitable case for elimination. It should be made clear to Assad that their elimination is not a signal for him to behave in an equally despicable way to the population that remains, and that he has a duty to take care of his population that has fled to safe havens.

    The area is not ready for a democratic answer, they do not recognise the word. Nor does the EU for that matter and your leader subscribes to it. What the area needs is stable government that is prepared to govern for all the people within it’s sphere rather than any particular faction.

    Our support should be as it is, hi tech air power directed at the most evil elements and in support of those who would also like to eliminate the same elements. Had our military capability not been so depleted by your government I would advocate even more air power at the point of need, but that is trying to give Putin’s intrusions the two finger greeting.

  14. eeyore
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Talleyrand looked out of the window as yet another revolution surged through the streets of Paris. “I see we’re winning,” he mused.

    “Who’s we?” asked his companion.

    “Shhh. I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

  15. fedupsouthener
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    We should stay out of these kind of conflicts. I cannot see what good invading Iraq has done, in fact, quite the opposite. Afghanistan has not had a great outcome either. Too many lives of our soldiers have been lost in all these conflicts and the indigenous people have been left in a worse state than before in many cases.

    Strengthening the borders to try and stop the spread of the troubles would be a start but I would imagine very difficult to achieve. We cannot fight the worlds battles for them.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 3, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Probably Afghanistan would have had a better outcome if resources had not been prematurely diverted to an unnecessary invasion and occupation of Iraq.

  16. lojolondon
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Assad was a dictator – his father ruled for 30 years, he has ruled for 16. Relatively prosperous and peaceful. Just like Saddam, you remove him and destabilise the entire region. The worst is that Hague and Kerry/Obama kept promising to help the rebels / terrorists / Al Quaida. So they kept fighting, faking ‘chemical attacks’ and publicising their struggle because they thought the West would turn Assad over as they did in Libya. When that help (correctly) failed to materialise, they kept fighting, a war where both sides were evenly matched and there is/was no obvious winner. So now we have total devastation of the country, caused mostly by the promise of Western support.

  17. Tad Davison
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Military intervention to prevent a humanitarian crisis is one thing, and is perhaps understandable. Taking ill-conceived and precipitative action that ultimately leads to a far worse and more dangerous situation, is something else entirely. But the latter is what we seem to get most of the time, and is down to the bad judgement of inadequate or possibly even corrupt people who should not be in a position of influence or power in the first place.

    We are slowly edging towards a state of perpetual war. I have been warning for a long time that the world is becoming a much more dangerous place. And we largely have our own politicians to blame. Yet it could have been even worse, just imagine what would have happened had we got involved militarily in all those conflicts our ‘friends’ in the US wanted us to, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    There are a great many reasons to make the right choice in the coming General Election, and the significance of an ethical foreign policy will only grow in importance as we draw nearer to the date. Were I his constituent, I would not hesitate to vote for John Redwood for he is the kind of politician for whom I have an affinity. I am confident he would not change his stance, nor his principles, were he to be given a ministerial post in a future Conservative government, but I worry about some of the others.

    I urge everyone to consider every single issue as closely as they possibly can. Personally, I am going to vote as though my whole world depended on it, and given the foreign policy mistakes of the past, I am absolutely convinced that it does!

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  18. graham1946
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    At last Saudi Arabia, Egypt and on or two others seem to be taking things seriously and are supposed to be setting up a permanent force for the region. We should keep out, we are not wanted, never have been and Western intervention has been disastrous. The Iraqis seem now to have found some backbone and have pushed Isis out of Tikrit so maybe they’ll gain strength and do the rest. The middle east should be left alone – self preservation will determine what they do, as with Saudi in the Yemen. They have enough of our arms and endless money so they should be able to look after themselves. For once we can take a ringside seat and decide what to do when the dust settles.

  19. They Work for Us?
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    We should keep out of it. I always find it distressing that the lack of genuine integration leads to pressure groups who’s main interest and loyalty is not to the UK but to another country, a religion etc. These pressure groups seek to push government policy to support their non UK interests. The BBC reports events in far away places for the benefit of the non integrated communities as though they were of great importance to us, they are not. We should give them the prominence that a bus accident in Clapham would be given in Kaboul

  20. David Murfin
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/03/29/arab-leaders-agree-joint-military-force-egypts-sisi/
    jontyfire quoted
    “an arab problem that will be dealt with and settled by arabs”
    “we require your cooperation not your assistance.”
    Which, being interpreted, presumably means “stay out of it”

  21. Peter a
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Problem us that Iran us behind Hezbollah in Syria, the Shia militias in Iraq. The Shia militias in Yemen.

    Cameron needs to up his game and repeat constantly in his restricted time tonight : No Labour govt has left power with more people in jobs than when they started. FACT.

    And..

    UKIP say some positive things but, this is a General election. A vote for UKIP which is essentially an English party, is a vote for Labour and the Scottish nationalists and extra taxes on London and England.

    Simple. Time to be up front.

  22. Posted April 2, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Whose side are we on in the Middle East? Easy: just adopt the policy: “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. That saves a lot of thinking and head scratching.

  23. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Just 100 years ago France and Britain divided the middle east up between us.
    Just 70 years ago, the Americans took over and supported Israel.
    Today there is complete chaos with a few civilized law abiding places still left. Dubai? UAE? Oman? Jordan perhaps?
    How far we have sunk. And, more to the point, how far the USA has sunk too. That really is frightening because, with typical generosity, they have been defending us. Now they are not. They are deeply in debt and deeply post their gung ho imperialist stage too.
    Scary.

  24. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    “One of the dangers lay in arming the so called moderate rebels, only to see the weapons get into the hands of the terrorist rebels either by agreement or by violence”

    I’m amazed that this course of action was even seriously considered – but that is the place we are at with Mr Cameron’s blue Labour Conservatives.

    How can any sane person who watched what happened after the invasion of Iraq conclude that arming a rag tag pickup army of so called ‘rebels’ or ‘moderates’ is a good idea.

    Mr Hague, Sir, you must have gone mad- luckily Redwood and a few like minded colleagues were there to save you from a misfortune of your own making.

  25. acorn
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Looking back on it, the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was a big mistake. The UK, following the Republican Neo-Con fool, George W. Bush; under a sham, supra-national, NATO flag; was stupid.

    Alas, there now is a definite move to put the US Neo-Cons, behind the eight ball, as they say. The US has just chastised its (when it suits them) best mate UK, for signing up to the Chinese AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank). Which is basically an Eastern world move, to stick it up the IMF and the World Bank. The latter both being, in reality, de-facto US federal government agencies. All the big EU States are joining in as well.

    I have opined before on this site, that these “supra-national” organisations will cause (conflict ed). There are far too many of them and they are mainly outside democratic control. Some are used by the US hegemony, as fronts to impose its foreign policy etc ed. Some, like the “troika” are imposing unnecessary financial suffering on little countries, based on decades out of date ideologies.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 3, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      As I recall it was NATO for Afghanistan, on the basis that the 9/11 attacks were covered by Article 5 of the NATO treaty and the US had the right to call upon its NATO allies for assistance, but it was not NATO for the Iraq invasion where the US put together “a coalition of the willing”.

      As I also recall there was a lot of talk in some quarters about moving on to deal with Iran once Saddam had been removed and Iraq had been subdued, adding even more craziness to what was already crazy.

      • acorn
        Posted April 3, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        True Denis, they called it the “Coalition of the Billing”, if you put your name forward, you got a “goody bag” from the USA. Even little countries that had no standing Army were on the list; and, some were on the list that never applied!

        John Kerry questioned the size of the coalition participating in the initial invasion, saying, “…when we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain, Australia and the United States. Then Bush told him, “you forgot Poland”. (Wiki’ quote). As it happened, the vast majority of NATO registered assets, mostly fly-overs and air bases were “available” for the mission.

  26. outsider
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, We should never support Sunni against Shia or vice versa or one Sunni faction against another. It is a measure of the political ignorance of the West (the USA, EU and UK) that we have found ourselves doing so when we thought we were just backing liberal democracy against ugly personal tyrannies. Russia was evidently much better informed about Syria.
    There are, I think, only two countries in the Middle East from which we see have seen no reason to accept asylum seekers: Israel and Jordan, successors to the Palestine Mandate. They are far from perfect but Israel has a full internal democracy (ie not counting Occupied Territories) and model religious tolerance while Jordan is governed by popular consent and seeks no ends other than the welfare of its own people.
    These are reliable friends that we should support if asked, without hesitating to criticise. That is likely to prove a sufficient burden over the next decade. Elsewhere we should be governed by self interest which (apart perhaps from Gulf sheikhdoms) will usually be to keep out, be ready with humanitiarian aid, condemn outrages, ethnocides and cultural vandalism but do our very best to avoid making enemies of any likely rulers.
    Finally, we should accept that the historic regional powers, Egypt, Turkey and Iran, have the greater legitimate interest and that if Sunni/Shia conflict is to be contained and defused, it can only be by agreement between them.

  27. Bazman
    Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Nigel Farage talking about supply and demand on ITV debate. Sorry Nigle I missed that. Supply and demand? LOL! That sums up his lies and fantasy. Can’t let that one go.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, so funny. I heard demand and supply, but wrote supply and demand. True communist nonsense. Boy? Girl? Hmm!?

  28. Posted April 2, 2015 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    It’s good to see Conservative politicians coming around to this POV. Those of us who marched in 2003 against the Iraqi invasion were saying pretty much the same thing at the time. We didn’t march in support of Saddam Hussein, we marched because we felt the reasons for the invasion were all wrong, they hadn’t been properly thought through, and that the removal of one tryrant would created many more mini tyrants in the region.

    The mistake was repeated later in Libya by the west with the Gaddafi regime.

    Hopefully there won’t be a next time, but if there is, can we expect to see some blue Tory banners held up in Trafalgar square, to provide some contrast to the usual and numerous red ones?

  29. Posted April 3, 2015 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Sell arms to both sides.

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 3, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    JR, so do you not agree that the ongoing Sunni-Shia religious dispute is basically insane, as pointed out in my comment which you have chosen not to publish?

    Reply No, I not share your view of the dispute. I merely wish to keep our country out of this long standing argument.

    • agricola
      Posted April 3, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      I agree John, it would be nice for once to be able to disconnect from this religious dispute. Unfortunately, though not taking religious sides there are many other factors that can be affected by it’s outcome that directly affect us. These are listed in my piece which was delayed publication until today. Apart from what we are doing, I would not discourage would be jihadis from leaving the UK. Once they have gone there would be no way back to practise their warped morality in the UK. They test our hospitality too far.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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