No support for British intervention in Iraq

Security forces patrol on Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday.

Security forces patrol on Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday.  

There is little establishment support in Britain, at least for the present, for intervening militarily to help the Iraq government fight the insurgent group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) that has captured the Iraqi cities of Mosul, Tikrit and now Tal Afar near Baghdad.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 Foreign Secretary William Hague said he "could not be clearer" that the UK will not participate in air strikes against the al - Qaeda affiliate in Iraq. Mr Hague’s assertion came after the fall of Tal Afar to ISIS rebels, and the release by the Jihadist group of horrific images of mass executions by firing squads of captured Iraqi soldiers.

Mr. Hague had earlier said that although the UK was “not planning a British military intervention”, his government was “looking urgently at other ways to help, for example with counter-terrorist expertise.”

The loudest pro-intervention voice, of which there are but few, is that of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who in 2003 led Britain’s entry into war in Iraq. In an essay published on his website, Mr. Blair calls upon the west to intervene military in Iraq yet again. He makes an elaborate defence of the 2003 war and denies that western intervention in Iraq in 2003 led to the present conflagration. Indeed, he argues that it was the west’s failure to intervene militarily in Syria last year that laid the ground for the present extremist surge in Iraq.

Mr. Blair’s comments have been ridiculed and sharply criticised from within and outside the British establishment. Writing in the Daily Telegraph London Mayor Boris Johnson said that Mr. Blair’s assertions on modern Iraq are “so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly in variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help.” The reality is, says Mr. Johnson, “that we destroyed the institutions of authority in Iraq without the foggiest idea of what would come next.”

John Baron, a Conservative Party Member of Parliament, who voted against the Syria resolution in a press release on Mr. Blair’s public statement, said, “Old habits die hard. We went to war in Iraq on a false premise. Intervening in Syria would have helped the extremists on the rebels’ side, including those allied to al-Qaeda, created even more bloodshed, and perhaps drawn us into a protracted civil war. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

It is unlikely that there will be any takers for UK’s direct armed involvement in the current Iraq crisis. Last year, the House of Commons in a historic vote with global ramifications, defeated the government’s proposal for military strikes against Syria. Britain pulled its last troops out of Afghanistan earlier this year. (Its troops in Iraq were pulled out in 2009).

A Guardian exclusive published on June 16 has reported that ISIS secured its cash flows to fund its recent military successes in Iraq primarily from the trafficking of priceless antiquities dating back 8,000 years from Syria.

The information – detailed lists of accounts and names of supporters -- were found stored on computer flash sticks that were seized by the Iraqi army on information provided by an arrested leader of the organization.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 6:02:54 PM |

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