The UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on the Manchester suicide bombing, suggesting that “Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home,” provoked a storm of criticism.
What is worth mentioning is that the terrorist atrocity committed by Libyan-born, British Salman Abedi was linked to the American air force bombardment of Syria. Interesting, indeed, that it is specifically linked to the American – as well as British, under the umbrella of ‘anti-ISIS coalition’ – attacks targeting ISIS-held territories inside Syria.
This may call the attention of serious analysts to several issues, although people like Abedi – who murdered 22 innocent people and injured many others while attending a concert – are nothing but brainwashed ‘killing machines’.
One issue is surely related to the aforementioned ‘justifications’ of the atrocity. The attacks of US-led ‘coalition’ started quite late in the Syrian War. Actually, they started many years after the Assad regime’s attacks on civilians, then direct involvement of Iran’s sectarian militia backing the regime, and later Russia’s joining the war directly against the Syrian people. It is a well-known fact that the Russian air force has played a decisive part during the last three years in turning the tide of the war in Assad’s favor. It has provided it with the much-needed air cover to systematically destroy the cities and carry out ‘sectarian cleansing’ and demographic change.
On the contrary, during Barack Obama’s presidency, Washington – so keen to befriend Iran – refused to intervene militarily in Syria. Subsequently, encouraging the Damascus regime and Iranian leaders to escalate the war using all kinds of weapons, including chemical weapons!
Another issue concerns the concept of ‘intervention’. In general, this term on its own does not reflect a comprehensive political vision. It is impossible to morally justify ‘intervention’ in a stable country governed by broadly-based political, social and institutional consensus; but, it is both morally and politically right to prevent the escalation of a war whereby a dictatorial leadership kills its own people as we have been witnessing in Syria and Yemen.
It is impossible to morally justify ‘intervention’ in a stable country governed by broadly-based political, social and institutional consensus; but, it is both morally and politically right to prevent the escalation of a war whereby a dictatorial leadership kills its own people as we have been witnessing in Syria and Yemen.Eyad Abu Shakra
Moreover, it is wrong to intervene with the intention of ‘regime change’ without having a plan for the day after, and a proper viable and legitimate alternative. When the 2003 Iraq War was met with wide Arab and international opposition, those opposing the war did not do so because they were great admirers of Saddam Hussein and his regime, but because Washington and London had no plan to fill the power vacuum and save the post-Saddam Iraq chaos.
Eventually, as we know now, Iraq was handed to Iran and its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) on a platter.
Most preposterous understanding
Still, the most preposterous understanding of ‘intervention’ must be reserved to Obama’s handling of Syria. Here, both the US president and his associates kept on justifying their refusal to defend the Syrian people and deter its murderers by pathetically repeating the claim that the “intervention in Iraq made the situation worse!”
It is particularly this shameful and destructive inaction that created ISIS phenomenon as a global problem.
Today, in the UK, the Labour leader Corbyn is following the footsteps of Barack Obama.
Last week, Corbyn made the connection between wars UK supported or fought in other countries and terrorism on British soil. The Labour leader, however, does not seem to be interested in the details of these wars, who caused them, are benefitting from them, or the realities they seek to impose.
Reality of Iranian extremism
Corbyn, who rightly opposed the 2003 Iraq War, today ignores the fact that that war brought about an explosive regional reality that all those who opposed the war must realize. They need to understand how Iranian extremism has provoked an opposite, extremist reaction, and that Tehran’s rulers are now exploiting this reaction in order to cut deals and make international alliances that would nurture it for years and decades to come.
The third issue, linked to the above, is that the current Labour leadership has been too consistently loyal to its opposition to foreign adventures. It is ‘principled’, and like some Labour leadership before it, has been too dogmatic and simplistic in arguing international affairs, as well as being sometimes ‘childishly’ anti-Washington. Something that makes it fall an easy prey to great slogans of ‘progress’ and ‘liberation’ uttered by fake nationalists and their mouthpieces. Indeed, the Labour ‘Left’ has always been idealistic, and quite often naïve.
During the thick of the Cold War, the Labour Left won control of the party’s leadership with clear-cut radical leftist political positions bearing all the fingerprints of the UND (Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament) – of which the new leader Michael Foot was an active member – as well as a radical economic agenda. The Left’s ascendancy led the leaders of centrist Labour Right to break away with their supporters and found the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981. This party merged later with the Liberal Party to form the current Liberal Democratic Party.
In 1983, as the leftist Labour leadership announced its radical electoral manifesto, the late Labour wise man Gerald Kaufman described it as “the longest suicide note in history”. He was absolutely right; as Labour was trounced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives, gaining just above 27.5 percent of the votes and paving the way for uninterrupted Conservative rule until 1997.
In the early 80s, Corbyn and some of his associates were young firebrands and ‘spiritual’ sons and daughters of Michael Foot and his fellow Leftist luminary Tony Benn. However, while many of those matured and moderated their outlooks, including Benn’s son Hilary Benn – a former cabinet minister – Corbyn remained an unrepentant radical.
Today, he practically supports Iran and Assad since he believes they are confronting America’s influence and conspiracies. This is why he promised a change in London’s foreign policy if Labour wins on June 8.
Finally, the fourth issue regards an anxious period Western societies are going through.
Many ‘givens’ and ‘constants’ have fallen; causing astounding electoral surprises. Thus, it would be ironic if the problems of the Middle East and Muslim world would shape the future of cultural co-existence and democracy in the West.
This article was first published on Asharq Al-Awsat.
Eyad Abu Shakra (also written as Ayad Abou-Chakra) began his media career in 1973 with Annahar newspaper in Lebanon. He joined Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in the UK in 1979, occupying several positions including: Senior Editor, Managing Editor, and Head of Research Unit, as well as being a regular columnist. He has several published works, including books, chapters in edited books, and specialized articles, in addition to frequent regular TV and radio appearances. Eyad tweets @eyad1949.