Another day another Middle Eastern war

Shortly after Parliament  gave approval for bombing in Syria the government has to strengthen its military support to the  Afghan government to help in its fight against the Taliban. The UK is also considering what military action it might need to take with its allies in Libya.

The fact that there are conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya should remind us how difficult western military intervention us, and should alert us to the limits of what we can achieve with few ground forces and an understandable reluctance to commit them in any numbers to any of the present war zones in this troubled part of the world.

The government needs to ask itself why has military intervention in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan failed to create stable peace loving governments in any of those countries?

Why did democracy backfire in Egypt?

What is the prognosis for creating a peaceful government in Syria now we are part of the bombing forces?

It would be helpful if the government would make a statement giving us a more accurate picture of the various extremist, terrorist violent groups in these countries, instead of seeking to claim there is just one extreme enemy, Daesh. It appears in recent days the government has returned to finding the Taliban unacceptable, and presumably the various Al Qaeda affiliates are also still in the extremist lists. They also need to explain what the connections between Daesh in Syria and Daesh in Libya might be and examine how pushing Daesh out of parts of Syria might affect Libya.

We are also due an update on what military and diplomatic action the regional powers are going to undertake. Saudi, Iran and others are crucial to finding a peaceful settlement. They are also well armed, understand more of the languages and culture of the war zones, and should be able to assist or lead.

What is increasingly clear is that modest targetted bombing in a wide range of locations is not about  to make much difference to these complex and violent disputes. The West lacks a vision and a plan for the four Middle Eastern countries currently in turmoil. Can we try and do better in 2016, or be more realistic about our abilities to bring democracy and peace to this region?

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27 Comments

  1. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    O/T – Apols
    Can this be looked at properly please. Sounds like Somerset Levels all over again.

    What the authorities won’t tell you about the floods:

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/

    Thankfully I live part way up a hill. Why is it an everlasting short cycle repeating problem? Need the interfering idiots out of our country.

    Add to EU OUT list.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, perhaps this should be pinned on lamp posts across the North of England:

      From Brownfield briefing, July 2015:

      Dredging of river sediments and other activities which adversely affect freshwater body quality, as specified by the water framework directive, could be challenged following a new European Court of Justice ruling.
      A German NGO, Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland, challenged plans to deepen the River Weser which it said would cause deterioration of water status in the river.
      The Court’s ruling clarifies when developments affecting river water quality should be allowed.
      “Member states are required — unless a derogation is granted — to refuse authorisation for an individual project where it may cause a deterioration of the status of a body of surface water or where it jeopardises the attainment of good surface water status or of good ecological potential and good surface water chemical status by the date laid down by the directive,” says the judgement.
      It defines “deterioration of the status” to mean as soon as the status of at least one of the quality elements defined in the directive falls by one class, even if it doesn’t result in an overall fall in the body’s classification.

  2. Margaret
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Simply join peace talks and defend ourselves. All these countries are too keen
    on muscling their way to power .Their culture is still tribal and they believe in a few prophets to make them think they are more powerful than others. We all prophesise in a way if we can see how things are panning out and what likely outcomes there are if we face the truth. How can wars be fought in the name of a few people many years ago? Why are the leaders of these groups so keen on killing .It is a collective psychosis.

  3. alan jutson
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we should have never got involved in the first place.

    Perhaps we should not have sacked thousands of our experienced and combat hardened service men and women over the last few years.

    Perhaps we should not get involved in other peoples wars in the future.

    Perhaps now we need to strengthen our Navy so that we can protect our own coastline.

    Perhaps we should strengthen our own borders.

    Perhaps !.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Perfectly put if rather too gentle on the government. What is the real agenda of the USA and UK? Firstly they wanted to attack the Syrian government, now the want to attack Islamic State ( that they like to call Daesh as it takes Islamic out of the name for bbc think reasons.

    What is the real agenda? What outcome do they seek?

    • mickc
      Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      No, they do not want to attack IS, and are not in any meaningful way.

      Indeed, the USA supports IS via Saudi Arabia. The sole intent is to remove Assad, no matter what ensues.

  5. Martyn G
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    “Why did democracy backfire in Egypt?” What happened left a political vacuum with who knows how many different, warring factions in competition to grab power.
    So far as Libya is concerned, I well remember how the UK, having taken part in removing the one person able to control the whole country, walked away and left the pot boiling without, it seems, any idea what to do about it.
    I think that one of the main reasons for the state of those countries we have interfered with is because our once hugely efficient and respected foreign office has, over the past 20-30 years, been reduced to a politically correct, navel-gazing and EU-loving organisation bereft of the knowledge and skills (including languages) it once had. There is also, of course, the fact that our government(s) have failed to take proper account of any advice they are given by the foreign office.
    Off topic, I read today that the EU commissioners, being external to the UK will be spending huge amounts of money – far more than either the ins or outs will be allowed to do – to perhaps mailshot every citizen proclaiming the benefits of staying in – in other words, conducting a mass propaganda exercise about which the government can do nothing. Happy New Year, John and keep up the good work!

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Interesting to reed how crb checks have grown like a malignant, expensive and damaging tumour but then so much state activity is exactly that a monopoly fake business and grows, inconveniences and feeds of the productive damaging so much.

    Osborne likes to talk about “mending the roof while the sun is shining”, Mending the roof means cutting out the vast pointless fat in the state sector, when is he intending to start? Borrowing and balance of trade are still dreadful and the rich, over taxed and hardworking are leaving. Pushed out by his bonkers new taxes.

  7. Bert Young
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Until we understand the basic problem of inter-tribe rivalry in the Middle East there is no point in outsiders trying to solve it . Egypt once had an over-riding role in keeping peace in the region but this disappeared after the first World War . Perhaps something could emerge if the Saudis and the Iranians found some way to get together , however , this would still leave the anomaly of Afghanistan and Pakistan .

    Meanwhile the message is very clear – Keep Out Of It !

  8. APL
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    JR: “what military action it might need to take with its allies in Libya.”

    Go on, do enlighten us, who or what are our allies in Libya?

  9. bratwurst
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Auto correct is a wonderful thing but I’m not sure it got it right when it had you say above ‘the government has returned to fibbing’ ! I don’t think it ever stopped 🙂

  10. Tad Davison
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    We are constantly being told that we needed to get rid of despots like Gaddafi as he was a tyrant. It is undoubtedly true that he left much to be desired, but where the cure is worse than the complaint, I suggest governments use what little common sense they have, and hold off with their military interventions. But Cameron, supported by his cohorts Fallon and Hammond, seems to want his wars without really thinking through the consequences, and in an unhealthy way that causes much unease for many. I for one am deeply suspicious of anyone who seems to welcome military interventions and confrontation without knowing what might happen afterwards, and as many have said before, even the best laid plans seldom survive the first encounter with the enemy.

    Let us not forget, the former Libyan leader took his country from being one of the poorest in Africa whose biggest export was scrap metal from the military hardware left over from World War Two, to the richest where they had a sovereign wealth fund, massive gold reserves, no national debt, and it was even a human right for every Libyan citizen to own a house. Gaddafi kept the lid on all the internal tribal rivalries, but his big mistake was to seek a pan-African currency, and to trade Libya’s oil in something other than the US Dollar. The reach of the US is long (words left out ed )
    The common people need to wake up to what is really going on in the world and the massive cons that are being perpetrated against them by a dangerous exclusive elite, but whilst a situation exists where the official line remains unchallenged, and a counter view is seen as heresy and is put down, we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past, and the ruling class will keep getting away with causing mayhem all over the place. It is not beyond comprehension to see a situation develop where the enemies that the west unleashes, subsequently become nuclear armed, and then the instability brought about by the likes of Cameron and his puppet masters will come back to bite them hard.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Sadly,it probably won’t come back to bite “them”,it will bite “us”;they will be in the bunkers and have the full protection of the police and armed forces,we will have to look after ourselves.

  11. ChrisS
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    It’s about time that the Conservative back benchers got together and told Cameron and Osbourne in no uncertain terms to take at least 30% of the foreign aid budget and use it to build flood defenses for our own citizens at home.

    The very idea of watching our own people washed out of their homes repeatedly while the foreign aid budget increased by £1bn in 2015 alone is totally unacceptable.

    The obscene waste caused by the rush to spend so much money abroad has to stop and only Conservative MPs can make it happen.

    Why aren’t you all standing together over this ?????

  12. Mark B
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    The government needs to ask itself why has military intervention in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan failed to create stable peace loving governments in any of those countries?

    Oh that’s simple. Because they do not want it.

    These people are tribal by nature. Just because the West draw lines on a map and gave those geographic locations names and flags and things does not make them a nation. It is a bit like the EU. It has a flag and lines on a map. It has an anthem and an Executive, Senate and Parliament. It even has its own currency and bank. It has all the trappings of a fully functioning state and refers to itself as Europe. But I ask you Mr. Redwood MP sir, do you feel more European than English or British ? And that is the same for these people. Why should they support something that they neither want nor recognise ? To them, all a government is worth, is a means of giving them free money, also a bit like the EU.

    Take my advice, leave them alone. If these people want to live in the century before the last one that’s fine by me. Concentrate on the dying democracy in this country. You know the one. A country were 650 MP’s can make any law, tax, or war and I and my fellow countrymen can do nothing about it. Create a true functioning democracy in Albion and show the world what can be done rather than telling people what they are going to have whether they want it or not.

    This is not a personal go at you. But you did ask the question.

    • Mark B
      Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Oops ! Sorry about the formatting.

  13. Vanessa
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    It seems as though every time Britain becomes involved with fighting and bombing some country in the Middle East, in the mistaken idea of bringing democracy to that area, we unhinge that country and create mayhem for them and the rest of the world.
    When will we ever learn that to impinge our style of government and social ideas on a totally different part of the world (usually, without them requesting our help and our total ignorance as to their society) we create much more unrest and horrors which THEN spill onto our own shores.
    Governments should not be allowed to decide this without a vote from the PEOPLE.

  14. forthurst
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    “The government needs to ask itself why has military intervention in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan failed to create stable peace loving governments in any of those countries?”

    Not necessarily; the governments of our country, being run by traitors, has been very content to do the bidding of thr USA, whose foreign policy is wholly controlled by neocon skunks, and to lie repeatedly to the British people as to the reasons why they were prepared to invest our blood and our treasure in such undertakings which would not get the support of the British people and furthermore might provoke a backlash against a minority group whose interests are served, they believe, by such actions. The actions in Iraq, Libya and Syria are and were to destroy a specific regime; the British government was plotting to introduce terrorists into Syria in 2009 to get things moving, as attested by Roland Dumas. This would tie in with the demonisation of Assad as with that of Gadaffi in order to prepare us for a ‘humanitartian’ intervention on behalf of the terrorists we had ourselves trained and introduced.

    Neither Libya, Syria, Iraq nor Afganistan were a present threat to us or our interests; that situation has now changed as the anarchy we have created has initiated a tidal wave of migrants from Africa and the ME which could destabilise the whole of Europe.

    The tragedy for Afghanistan is that its strategic location on the neocon global battlefield makes it a magnet for uninvited guests. Osama bin Laden did not orchestrate 9/11; that was yet another preposterous lie to claim a casus belli.

  15. ian wragg
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    We were roundly defeated in Iraq due to insufficient men and equipment and we left Afghanistan before the job was completed.
    We have now decimated our armed forces and these conflicts have come back to bite us.
    Cameron ponces around the world stage without anything substantial to back him up. I bet these regimes are laughing all the way to their Swiss Banks.

    • Yosarion
      Posted December 27, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      If we had the armed forces we had in the sixties we would have still been shafted in Afghanistan, They quickly changed tactics to hit and run like the Viet Kong did in the sixties. We ended up in the same position of taking the ground one day to hand it back before nightfall to give them just enough time to plant their IEDs. They kicked the Eastern Blocks ass in the eighties, ok with some Western assistance but just like the middle East they don’t want Western democracy that is just a front for big business to asset strip their Lands.

  16. Jumeirah
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    “The West lacks a vision and a plan for the 4 Middle Eastern Countries currently in turmoil. Can we try and do better in 2016 or be more realistic about our abilities to bring democracy and peace to this region?”
    YOU nailed it.
    Mr. Redwood I have mentioned this before- you are a no nonsense hardnose and just the person we need in Cabinet to put backbone and ‘manage’ the decision making in this poorly led group of individuals who are leading this Country into what Putin quite rightly describes as ‘a small island who nobody takes any notice of ” – anymore he should have added. Behind closed doors one expects the EU to be thinking the same thing.
    There are enough MPs like you to ‘make the difference’ and get us back on track and we need that now. As you well know and unpleasant though it must be – sometimes one has to take the brave decision fearlessly and think in the best interests of the Country and do the right thing. The longer we leave it the longer it will take us to get back to being what we once were a ‘little island ‘ respected around the world -the voice of reason and diplomacy. In time we can recover despite the damage brought upon us and the Near & Middle East by Blair and Cameron but we (as a Country) need to disengage from these troubled Regions and concentrate on what we need to do to make our Country strong economically in the world markets, regain our Sovreignty through strong decisive Leadership and that comes from people like YOU.
    Get on with it please
    PS
    Somebody can find Cameron a job as (ANOTHER) Special UN Envoy somewhere.

  17. rick hamilton
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    On Christmas day I attended a wonderful concert by the St Petersburg Ensemble in Tokyo Opera House. Here in a largely Buddhist country was an enthusiastic audience enjoying music by European composers on a Christian holy day. It made me realise yet again that Europe (not the EU, please) is the fount of civilisation in this world and it is no wonder that millions of discontented citizens of incompetently run developing countries want what Europeans have.

    Like it or not, we are engaged in a battle of beliefs. Islamists are gaining power in countries which 60 years ago were moving towards the western model – Turkey, Egypt, Iran – especially as concerns the rights of women. We are not just fighting ISIL’s primitive mediaevalists. We are fighting ignorance and the only way to defeat it is to be firm in our own beliefs and values and to promote them at every opportunity.

    • Gary
      Posted December 28, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      patronising and ignorant. The east Asians were civilised when we were still living in caves and killing each other with bones and rocks. Just because they happen to also regard other cultures does not mean they don’t have one of their own. And as for the ignorance of those in the middle East, they too had culture, and agriculture, long before we did.

      The only ignorance is from the likes of you from the west.

      PS : when I hear “the rights of women” talking points you just know what the agenda is. These people have dropped more bombs in the name of women, and probably killing more women and children than their empty words may have saved. By their actions they don’t give a stuff about women, they only care about stealing resources, gaining land and they use any excuse, including women and children, to start the bombing.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      With the Japanese being largely Buddhist and the St Petersburg Ensemble largely Orthodox Christian,December 25 would have been just another ordinary day….and if the programme featured Russian composers there would most likely have been Asiatic influences in the music too!

  18. agricola
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Democracy backfired in Egypt because the winning governing party that resulted from their election did not realise that in a democracy, once elected, you govern for the whole country not your followers alone.

    In Syria it is desirable that Russia, USA, France and the UK combine to impose a government. Then over a period of say ten years, they slowly teach the Syrians to govern themselves.

    We in the UK need to have a clearly defined battle order of all those groups fighting in Syria so we better understand the issues involved.

    We need to expose the complicity of Turkey in financing Daesh by buying the oil that Daesh control in Syria and Iraq. What is a member of NATO and potential member of the EU doing in consorting with the enemy, if the Russian case for this is proven. If so what is Merkel thinking of in inviting them to enter the EU . Do the other 27 members of the EU have any say in the matter.

    I doubt that the multiple factions at play in Middle Eastern politics have yet acquired the right mindset for democracy to work. If we want stability in the countries concerned we need to impose it upon them. Ironic though it is , this was the way in which Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq before Bush junior decided to de-stabilise the country by failing to put in place anything to replace him.

  19. Mr James Winfield
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Although you could argue that bombing in Iraq has helped the Iraqi army retake territory.

  20. Javelin
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    Back in the summer I posted that I had presented a prediction of the results of the continuation of cheap oil in the Middle East. As I write predictive (ai) software I need general parameters so these presentations set up general parameters. The predictive parameters set up the parameters of financial instruments and geopolitical events for the software to discover the relationships.

    One on side we have oil countries fwd and future rates, such as oil, fx, sovereign bonds and on the other social and political events.

    Today in the telegraph we see the Saudi bond futures pointing toward the Saudis dropping out of the dollar peg – which would be the public face of the crisis that has been brewing for over two years.

    The price of oil is only heading one way. Driven by technology it will one day be down to five dollars a barrel at source. Saudi will be unable to afford arms to defend its regime and foreign workers. The Koranic literalism they support will be promoted more heavily for a few decades as a justification for a resource grab.

    Eventually the (……) socio-political aspects of Islam will separate from the religious aspects and Islam will face an enlightenment. The exact process for that to happen will be part of another presentation but having looked at the future info not believe this will happen for at least four decades. In the meantime tensions between the Oil states will increase further.

  • 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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