Middle East

March 2003 The Iraq debate Alex Salmond’s finest hour at Westminster exposed the sanctimonious arguments of Blair who ignored three million marchers and went ahead with the Invasion anyway


Mar 2003; Alex Salmond’s contribution to the debate

Fundamentally, the debate is not about Iraq, Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction or even oil, though oil is certainly a factor. The debate is about a new world order, with an unrivalled superpower adopting a doctrine of pre-emptive strike, and how we accommodate that and come to terms with that new world order. Eighteen months ago the United States had an atrocity committed against it and it is still in a trauma. The point was made a few minutes ago, and it is undoubtedly correct.

On 12 September 2001, the day after the attack on the twin towers, the United States was at its most powerful. In its moment of greatest extremity, the United States was at its zenith. In addition to its unrivalled military might, it carried total moral authority throughout the world. A hundred or more nations signed messages of sympathy, support or solidarity with the extremity that the United States had suffered.

Now, 18 months later, that enormous world coalition has been dissipated. I do not take the position that it was only a gang of four who gathered in the Azores. I accept that there are more countries—or at least countries’ Governments who are signed up, but the coalition of the willing for the campaign against Iraq is very narrowly based. Anyone who wants confirmation of that should just count the troops: 300,000 United States and British troops, and I understand that 1,000 Australians have been asked for, and 100 Poles have been offered. That is a very narrowly based coalition indeed.

The Prime Minister believes that the way to accommodate the situation is to accept that the United States will be predominant and that the rest must fall into line. They can try to restrain it, but they will have to fall into line with the views of the United States Administration. That is a wrong-headed policy, and it is taking people into ridiculous positions.

In his undoubtedly powerful speech today, the Prime Minister argued that the weapons inspection process had never worked. He came close to saying that it had all been a waste of time. I remember a speech in October last year at the Labour conference in which another powerful speaker went into enormous detail to show how successful the weapons inspection process had been in the 1990s and how it had led to the destruction of chemical weapons, the chemicals used to make weapons, the armed warheads and the biological weapons facility. He concluded that, “the inspections were working even when he(Saddam Hussein) was trying to thwart them.”

I watched that speech on television as did many others. The speaker was President Bill Clinton. The television was doing cutaways to Ministers, including the Prime Minister who all nodded vigorously when President Clinton said that through the 1990s that policy worked and destroyed far more weapons of mass destruction than were destroyed, for example, in the Gulf war. The Prime Minister is now denying what he accepted only last October.

We are told that the majority of the Security Council would have voted for the second resolution, if it had not been for the nasty French coming in at the last minute and scuppering the whole process. Let us get real. Have we listened to what other countries were saying? The Chileans proposed an extension of three weeks, but they were told by the United States that that was not on. In the debate in the General Assembly, country after country expressed their anxieties about not letting the weapons inspectors have a chance to do their work. They were told that the nasty French—I am not sure whether the Conservative party dislikes the French more than the Liberals, or vice versa were being extremely unreasonable, but the French position, and the Chinese position in order to become acceptable, resolution 1441 had to be amended. Everything has been consistent in the opposition of countries that are against a rush to military action.

Somebody should speak up for the French, because their position has been consistent, as has that of the Russians and the Chinese. The Chinese, the French and the Russians issued a declaration on the passage of resolution 1441. It sets out exactly how the British and the United States ambassadors agreed that it was not a trigger for war. The reason that those countries did not want a second resolution was not that it would be a pathway to peace I wonder who dreamed that up in Downing street. The reason was that they saw it as a passport to war, so obviously they opposed a resolution drawn in those terms. The majority of smaller countries in the Security Council and the General Assembly countries did not want to rush to war because they saw that there remained an alternative to taking military action at this stage of the inspection process.


We are told that the Attorney General has described the war as legal. We could go into the legalities and quote professor after professor who has said the opposite, but one thing is certain: when the Secretary General of the United Nations doubts the authorisation of military action without a second resolution, people can say many things about that action, but they cannot say that it is being taken in the name of the United Nations. (1)

The argument is that it will be a salutary lesson, that a dictator will be taught a lesson and that that will help us in dealing with other dictators. I suspect that the cost of the action — I do not doubt the military outcome for a second will be so high in a number of ways that it will not provide a platform for an assault on North Korea or Iran, which form the rest of the “axis of evil”. I do not think that the policy of teaching one dictator a lesson and then moving on to other dictators can work. Most of us know that it will be a breeding ground for a future generation of terrorists. That is not the case because people like Saddam Hussein. The images that will be shown throughout the Muslim world will not feature him, although, without any question, he will be more attractive as a martyr when he is dead than he has ever been while alive. The images that will be shown are those of the innocents who will undoubtedly die in a conflict that will be a breeding ground for terrorism.

Will the nation building work? The record of the United States on nation building has not been impressive. Let me say something about one of the other countries that is being reviled at present Germany, which commits far more troops as a percentage of its armed forces to helping to secure the peace in the various trouble spots of the world for the United Nations.

We are told that the Prime Minister, (this is the essence of his case) will try to restrain some elements in the United States Administration and make them take a multilateral approach, but that, if that does not happen, when push comes to shove he has to go along with their policy. I say that there is a broader United States of America than the United States Government. I believe that many sections of opinion in America would welcome a vote from this Parliament today that says “Not in our name”, because the real America wants to see a stand for peace, not a rush for war.

(1) The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan said that if the US and GB went ahead with an invasion of Iraq it would be in breach of the United Nations charter.


Extracts from other contributions to the debate

Dr. el-Baradei and his teams of inspectors inspectors reported to the UN that Iraq did not  possess nuclear weapons and its biological and chemical weapons stocks and productivity wa severely diminished. This being the case from where is the immediate intent to attack the United Kingdom, the United States, neighbouring states or other states to come from?

It has been suggested that Iraq might not intend to attack anyone but that it could pass them to terrorist organisations. But George Tennet, on behalf of the CIA said: “it is important when talking about what connections countries have with terrorism to distinguish between unconditional terrorist organisations, which would be liable to wish to use weapons of mass destruction, and political terrorist organisations, such as the Mujaheddin-e Khalq Organisation and Hamas, of which there is evidence that Iraq has had connections, would not have a purpose in doing so. And  there is no verifiable evidence of any connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.”

Blair said the question is how Britain and the world face security threats of the 21st century which is a weird statement since in the context of the debate he was referring to weapons of mass destruction and the political belief of UK parties is that such matters should be resolved through non-proliferation and multilateral disarmament.

The Bush Administration have adopted a strategy of counter-proliferation. Saying; “It is okay if our friends develop nuclear weapons, but not if our enemies do,” and they choose who are the friends and who are the enemies. In this context it needs to be remembered that Iraq was regarded as a friend and was supplied with weapons and munitions by the US and the UK during the 1980s.

Of more concern is that the policy of the Bush Administration says; “We can develop new nuclear weapons or try to make nuclear weapons more usable, and we can decide to breach the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and the security assurance that we gave under that treaty.” That is a serious aspect of the overall problem of weapons of mass destruction, especially when it is added to the doctrine of pre-emptive war.

Blair made the point that war on Iraq was not on his agenda when he became Prime Minister in 1997, and he said that George W. Bush had told him that two days before 11 September it was not on his agenda. It was on other people’s agenda namely, that of the hawks that George Bush appointed to his Administration.


Blair said that the UK needed to view the US as a major power and partner. But there are major misgivings if it means that the United States takes the decision and the UK is expected to follow suit. That is not a partnership. 

If the House of Commons votes for a pre-emptive war against Iraq, the question of precedence needs to be first discussed and resolved because the hawks of the Bush administration have already said that there are plans for other pre-emptive divisive wars.  The US plan of the world of the future identifies closely with the vision set out by Blair in Brighton in 2001, when he spoke of, “the moral power of a world acting as a community”.


President Clinton’s Powerful Speech to the labour party Conference in Blackpool October 2002, (6 months before the invasion of Iraq

His advice, readily embraced at the time by Tony Blair and all of his ministers was ignored in the rush to war. Bush and Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the terrible consequences of this have been visited upon many nations of the World, (in particular Afghanistan and the middle East).

Blair and Bush are now retired and very wealthy earning financial fortunes from speeches, advisory activities in support of many governments around the world and other business.

But many thousands of our armed forces were killed or returned home maimed through physical and or mental injury. The remaining years of their lives will be spent in pain and poverty as will the many thousands of families who lost their sons and daughters.

But Blair get his reward from the Queen. Now Lord Blair he is readying himself for a return to government should the Labour Party displace the Tories at the next General Election.


Middle East

The Chilcott Inquiry – Failures Of The Military Elite – Promotion Or Death??

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1. The Chilcott Inquiry – The Role Of the Military Elite

a. Top Brass who failed to stand up to politicians over the rush to war in Iraq are likely to face criticism in the long-awaited report

b. Senior military officers advised the inquiry that they were concerned about the pressure of fighting wars simultaneously in Iraq and Afghanistan, shortages of equipment, and an inability to prepare British troops properly for war because Tony Blair did not want the plans to become public.

c. In a democracy, it is the politicians’ job to give orders to the military and expect them to be carried out, but the report is likely to raise questions over whether the Generals could have highlighted more forcefully, warnings about the army’s shortcomings in terms of it’s readiness for war.

d. Admiral Lord Michael Boyce, the then Chief of the Defence Staff, told the Iraq Inquiry he had been slapped down by ministers for complaining in the run-up to the invasion. He said then Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, who had never served in the Armed Forces, told him to make his military assessments ‘more of a glass half-full rather than half-empty’.

e. He also said he was banned from buying equipment for troops until four months before the invasion – contributing to shortages of body armour and other kit in the early days of the conflict. Some units, including the 7th Armoured Brigade – the historic and war-hardened Desert Rats – were only battle-ready the day before the invasion.

f. Asked by the inquiry if he had confidence Lord Boyce and Mr Hoon had passed the concerns of the time to the Prime Minister, a sceptical-sounding General Lord Richard Dannatt, then the Assistant Chief of the General Staff, said: ‘They told me they were.’ Lord Boyce said he raised his concerns with Mr Blair – but was given short shrift.

g. It was not until November, just four months before the war, that defence chiefs were able to make ‘overt’ preparations.


h. General Lord Michael Walker, promoted from head of the Army to Chief of the Defence Staff in May 2003 – two months after the invasion – admitted to the inquiry the military was ‘overstretched’. But he has stood accused of pushing politicians to include more ground troops to boost ‘morale’ among soldiers – a claim he vehemently denied. A year later, he said, Britain’s entire military top brass threatened to quit in protest at Gordon Brown’s proposals for savage defence cuts while the UK was fighting on two fronts.


i. Lord Dannatt, who was involved in planning for the invasion, told the inquiry the ‘desire’ of the Army to send a large force to the war zone was ‘not huge’. But he added: ‘From a professional point of view… there was a bit of a feeling that if the US was going to go in and conduct an operation… there may have been a little bit of a professional feeling, “We should be doing this.”

j. Sir Michael Graydon, a former head of the RAF, said yesterday any criticism in the report would probably look at the advice of the military advisers in drafting the discredited dossiers which made the so-called case for war.


2. I previously wrote to many aspects of Tony Blairs rush to war and the many failures of military heirachy and politicians. A number are listed below.


Middle East

David Cameron & Jewish Zionists – What’s Not to Like?

David Cameron Levita – His Jewish Lineage

David Cameron’s Jewish family name, Levita is the Latin form of the name Levite, a Jew descended from the Tribe of Levi, the son of Jacob and one of the original twelve tribes of Israel. The leader of the Levites at the time of the exodus from Egypt was Moses, who was married with two sons. It is entirely possible therefore that he is a direct descendent of the Prophet. If affirmed he would be more royal than the queen.

Emile Levita, who came to Britain as a German immigrant in the 1850’s is Cameron’s great great grandfather. Granted citizenship in 1871, he enjoyed considerable financial success, becoming a director of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, which had offices in Threadneedle Street in the City of London. He took on all the trappings of an English gentleman – he hunted, owned a grouse moor in Wales, and started an educational tradition which has continued through to today’s Tory leader, by sending his four sons to Eton. Emile’s eldest son, Arthur, a stockbroker, married Steffie Cooper, a cousin of the Royal Family providing Cameron with a link to King George III, an ancestor he shares with the Queen – his fifth cousin once removed.

Team Cameron’s big Jewish backers 12/10/2006

Having been selected to lead the Tory party, by prominent members of the Jewish community, Cameron’s bid was championed and fully financed by his backers in his successful bid for power. The biggest Jewish donor to the party, while Mr Cameron has been leader is gaming magnate Lord Steinberg, who has donated £530,000, plus a loan of £250,000. Hedge-fund owner Stanley Fink has donated £103,000, even though he was a declared supporter of Mr Cameron’s leadership rival, Liam Fox. A further £250,000 has been loaned by philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield.

During Mr Cameron’s campaign to lead the Tory Party, Jewish figures gave his team (as opposed to the Party) additional donations of more than £60,000. Direct donations to, “Team Cameron” in the leadership battle came from philanthropist Trevor Pears (around £20,000), Bicom chair Poju Zabludowicz (£15,000 plus £25,000 to the party), Next chief executive Simon Wolfson (£10,000 plus £50,000 to the party), former Carlton TV boss Michael Green (£10,000) and Tory deputy treasurer and key Cameron fundraiser Andrew Feldman (£10,000 through his family firm, Jayroma).

Beyond the donors, a small but influential group of Jewish Conservative officials and politicians were also key players in Mr Cameron’s campaign for the leadership. Among them was party treasurer and managing director of Cavendish Corporate Finance, Howard Leigh, who worked closely with Mr Feldman running the so-called “Team Cameron,” both were charged with broadening the party’s donor base. Mr Feldman is a close friend of Mr Cameron, whom he met as an undergraduate at Oxford University. Other senior figures around the leader included Oliver Letwin, head of policy. A former shadow Home Secretary and shadow Chancellor, Mr Letwin, like Mr Cameron, is an Old Etonian.

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who seconded Mr Cameron’s bid to become Tory leader, decided early on that he was the man “of the future.” He backed his campaign because, “I saw that he had great leadership qualities.”
The Key Players

Andrew Feldman – met Cameron at Brasenose College, Oxford. He is a close friend and tennis partner of the leader. A member of the Tories’ so-called Notting Hill set, he lives in West London with his wife and two children. Mr Feldman attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s school, and, after qualifying as a lawyer, entered the family’s ladieswear firm, Jayroma. Having acted as fundraiser for Mr Cameron’s leadership campaign, he is now deputy treasurer of the party and is in Mr Cameron’s economic-policy group.

Michael Green – former chairman of Carlton Television, gave financial support to David Cameron’s leadership campaign. He said, “I am a big supporter of David Cameron but I want to make it clear that I have not supported the Tory Party. I have supported David Cameron’s quest to become leader,” he said.

Lord Steinberg — formerly Leonard Steinberg — became a life peer in 2004 and is a major donor to the Conservatives. Raised in Belfast and educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, the 70-year-old Baron Steinberg of Belfast was a founder of Stanley Leisure plc, the gaming company, serving as executive chairman from 1957 to 2002 and non-executive chairman since then. He is a former deputy treasurer of the Tory party and is a founder and chairman of his family charitable trust. His political interests are listed in Dod’s, the parliamentary guide, as Northern Ireland, tax and gambling, and Israel.

Simon Wolfson – A donor to David Cameron’s leadership campaign and to the Conservative Party, Simon Wolfson, 38, continued a family tradition when he became an adviser to Mr Cameron on improving economic competition and wealth creation. The son of Lord Wolfson, who was chief of staff to Margaret Thatcher, Mr Wolfson, chief executive of the Next clothing chain, was one of the youngest advisors to be appointed by Mr Cameron. Along with MP John Redwood, Mr Wolfson jointly chaired the advisory group that sought to reduce red tape and improve education and skills in the workplace. It also examined the country’s transport infrastructure.

Grant Shapps MP – As vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and seconder to David Cameron’s campaign, backbencher Grant Shapps persuaded parliamentary and constituency Tories of the virtues of Cameron.

David Cameron Spoke to the Movement for Reform Judaism 12 April 2010

Thank you for inviting me to write a few words for your newsletter. I have many friends on this mailing list, so as we’re now about to launch into a General Election campaign, this might be the last they hear from me for a few weeks. I would also like to send you my best wishes as you celebrate the festival of the Passover.

I am a great admirer of the Jewish people and your extraordinary achievements. I’ve long seen your community as a shining light in our society. To me, one of the biggest contributions of Judaism is its understanding of what makes a responsible society. Last summer, I gave a speech to Jewish Care where I talked about this idea. I quoted a phrase of Rabbi Hillel’s which I think captures it beautifully: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I?” That urgent, selfless moral compulsion to change the world for the better is right at the heart of the Jewish way of life. If I become Prime Minister, I want to see that idea of responsibility extend right across our society. A key part of that will be about building a stronger, more cohesive society – and that means doing much more to tackle the rise of anti-Semitism. I was appalled when the Community Security Trust told me that there were more anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2009 than in the whole of any previous year. We need big changes to root out this extremism – stopping preachers of hate from entering this country, banning those extremist groups who are already here, and doing much more to tackle radicalisation in our universities.

But I don’t just want to make our society stronger. I also want to build a bigger society. And we can’t do that without backing faith-based organisations in the good work that they do. Take faith schools, for example. They are a really important part of our education system and often have a culture and ethos which helps to drive up standards. Through our school reform plans, there will be a real growth in new good school places, and I’m sure some of these will be in faith schools.

So there is a lot I admire about your community, and a lot more that I think it can offer if given the chance. At this General Election, I’m asking the British people to have faith in me and the Conservative Party to bring change to this country. The truth is that we can’t afford five more years of this tired Labour government making this worse. A Conservative government will do much more to protect and empower the Jewish community in our society. Voting Conservative gives us a chance to make these changes and together, we can put this great country back on her feet.

Cameron declared himself a Zionist 2010

“I am a Zionist,” Conservative Party leader David Cameron told an audience of party supporters of Israel in London on Tuesday. “If what you mean by Zionist, is someone who believes that the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel and a right to their country then, yes, I am a Zionist and I’m proud of the fact that Conservative politicians down the ages have played a huge role in helping to bring this about,” Cameron declared. The Conservative leader was guest of honor at the Conservative Friends of Israel annual business lunch, which was attended by some 500 people – including half the parliamentary party, 30 Conservative parliamentary candidates, former leaders, lords and Israel’s ambassador.

Channel 4 In Depth Investigative Report on Zionist Lobbying Groups

Shown on Channel 4 in 2011 the content sought to bring the matter to the attention of the public to the excessive political influence of the Zionists in the UK.

All in the Family: David Cameron’s Jewish Roots and the Coreligionists Who Brought Him to Power

Middle East

$3trillion spent on wars by the US and UK – Over 1.5 million deaths. No end to bloodshed – Assad will win his war by Christmas then turn his attention to recovering the oil rich Golan Heights from Israel – that’s a conflict to be avoided



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Iraq Under Saddam Hussein-the First War-UN Sanctions-the Second War-The New Iraq

In the 1970s and 1980s, under Saddam Hussein, Iraq boasted one of the highest standards of living and most educated and skilled populations in the Arab world.

After the First Gulf War in 1991, the quality of life deteriorated markedly and worsened throughout the UN sanctions period. The war dealt a severe blow to the country’s infrastructure, with enormously detrimental effects on public health: hospitals were forced to accommodate heavy patient loads, major cities lacked electricity for weeks on end, and communications systems and water purification systems were destroyed Throughout the 1990s, UN sanctions further eroded the medical system and led to severe shortages of basic goods.

The U.S. invasion and subsequent developments in Iraqi politics brought about an increasing fragmentation of social and political life along sectarian lines, rampant corruption, further breakdown of public services and declining well being in the population.

The root cause therefore of the poor quality of democratic governance in Iraq was a lack of inclusion in the post-invasion state-building process. Beginning in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, the processes that generated the new constitution and governing institutions were flawed. The rushed effort, (forced through by the USA) to draft the new Iraq Constitution excluded key stakeholders, most notably representatives from Iraq’s Sunni Arab population.



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The new constitution was approved in 2005 in a national referendum, despite continued Sunni Arab opposition. Since the drafting of the constitution, Sunni Arabs continued to feel excluded from the new Iraq. Then came the breakthrough. In late 2009, (following protracted discussions) a group of Sunni’s, led by Mr al-Hashemi agreed to join the coalition. A decision greatly welcomed by the USA.

Not long after, at the time of compiling electoral lists, the Supreme National Commission for Accountability and Justice announced, just before the 2010 election that hundreds of candidates were to be banned, for a number of reasons, from standing for election. lists of excluded candidates included many more Sunni’s than those of other sects, further enhancing fear and anger among Sunni’s that they had been sold out.

The move, perceived as gerrymandering by many Sunni voters, backfired on the authoritarian and unpopular, State of law Coalition government, since it simply garnered support for Mr al-Hashemi, a Sunni and leader of the Iraqiyya List coalition. Iraqis in Fallujah, the West and North of the country voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Iraqiyya List coalition, which ended up as the largest single party, (by 2 seats).

Following many rounds of discussions a government was formed, to be led by Mr Nuri al-malaki, a shi’a who had led the first government in the New Iraq. Mr al-Hashemi, (leading the al-Iraqiya List), the largest political group was appointed to the post of Vice President.

The new government soon fell apart, mainly due to the insistence of the Prime Minister Mr Nuri al-malaki that he would exercise direct control over just about all aspects of power in the country, including the military. The opposition parties fell into disarray and back-stabbing under the onslaught.

Then in May 2011 arrest warrants, alleging murder and other charges were issued against the Vice President al-Hashemi who, avoiding arrest, escaped to Turkey. He was subsequently found guilty, in a show trial, of all charges and sentenced to death, (in his absence).

Ankara, Turkey;  Exiled Iraqi Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi announcing his official resignation from post stated, “My post doesn’t have any value any more, Iraq’s political process is stuck in the mud by a man by the name of Nouri Maliki”. He went on to give his backing to Sunni opposition, in Anbar province against Nouri al-Maliki’s government.

Sunni Arabs protested against the President throughout January 2013 calling for him to resign his office in favour of a more unifying person. In recent days tensions and protests against Maliki have engulfed the western province of Anbar after Iraqi authorities arrested Iraqi Sunni MP Ahmed Alwani and murdered his brother on charges of helping Sunni militants.


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The New Iraq- A Success or a Failure?

The new, democratic Iraq is plagued by rampant corruption with bribes, kickbacks and embezzlement a routine part of politics and everyday life. In 2012, Transparency International ranked Iraq as the 8th most corrupt country in the world.

Furthermore, civil liberties are increasingly under threat, even if Iraqis enjoy far more freedom. Independent journalists are targeted for their coverage of anti-government protests and the government routinely fails to enforce laws designed to protect the media. In its 2013 World Report, Human Rights Watch reported that the Iraqi government uses draconian measures against opposition politicians, detainees, demonstrators and journalists

Sectarianism characterizes political and social life, a trend that dates back to many centuries. But the new Iraq is not supposed to allocate political offices according to sect. Rather, the new Iraqi political system of selecting leaders is based on negotiation among the winners of national parliamentary elections.

In practice, however, key offices are still distributed by sect and the largest communal group in the country garnered the largest number of votes, enabling them to claim the most powerful position, the office of the Prime Minister. Whilst the Kurd’s took the presidency. The trend towards political sectarianism, however, should not suggest that sectarian identity explains all politics in contemporary Iraq.

By a basic definition, Iraq is a democracy but the formal institutions of democracy, however, do not entail more than a minimum of democratic rights and they have not guaranteed tangible improvements in the lives of citizens. Nonetheless, the case of Iraq shows that the quality of democratic governance can be very poor, even after the institutionalization of formal democracy. Indeed, Prime Minister al-Maliki alienated Iraqis from all sects not just Sunnis for reneging on promises to form a unity government.


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Introduction of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

At the start of the Northern Iraq offensive, beginning in June 2014, the, “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) vowed to take power over the state of Iraq away from al-Maliki. In response he called upon Kurdish forces to help keep Northern Iraq out of the hands of (ISIS), he also requested and was refused air support from American drones in order to eliminate dangerous jihadist elements in the country. The US position was that the United States was not actively considering using warplanes or armed drones to strike jihadist havens.

During the crisis, al-Maliki became the main target of a propaganda campaign by (ISIS), which made clear the group’s disdain calling him an, “underwear salesman,” stating he “lost a historic opportunity for your people to control Iraq, and the Shiites will always curse you for as long as they live.”

Prime Minister Nuri al-malaki resigned his office in August 2014, following months of pressure from the USA and a collapse of support in the Iraqi parliament.

The newly appointed Prime Minister, Mr Haider al-Ibadi (approved by Iran and the USA), is, not surprisingly a Shia and a member of the same political party as his predecessor. It is of the utmost importance therefore that the leaders of the two key ministries of Defence and the Interior, (presently vacant) be taken up by Sunni’s.

Allowing the return of former Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, (who remains in exile in Turkey) to take up one of the posts would be major coup for the Sunni’s who would readily rally to his leadership and allow an early formation of an inclusive government, sealing an early defeat of ISIS who would retreat back to Northern Syria where they would be dealt with by the Assad forces.

The Formation of a truly national government would be one that honestly ensures the on-going needs and desires of all sects are met, thereby bringing about a feeling that all members of society are pulling together in the same direction.


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Easy Ask-So what can possibly go wrong?

Shia’s refuse to share power with any competent Sunni capable of exercising any measure of real authority over their sect. would leave the West and North of Iraq at the mercy of ISIS and may well result in an invasion, (by invitation of the US) by Turkish ground forces from the North.

What Turkey fears most is a powerful Kurdish state on the disputed border with Kurdistan/Iraq adding to continuing internal strife in the south of the country. They are also wary any major supply of arms to the Kurds by the US might encourage them to get involved in the north of Syria bringing about the overthrow of Assad which would result in an extension of the troubled border further to the West.

Repeated showing in the media of, “war porn” i.e. destruction, (using a missile costing £500,000) to destroy a Toyota pick-up or enemy machine gun post. This is an early indication that ISIS is operating, “Apache Indian” tactics. Melting away, in small groups before the onslaught of the major air-power of the Coalition. In this case the air war would be considered a failure and ground troops would need to be introduced.

Any further major setbacks for Iraqi forces to the West and North of the country could be catastrophic for the state of Iraq.

The continuing dominance in Baghdad and areas to the South of large groups of Sh’ia militia acting, often at odds with the regular army is counter productive.

Any move, on the part of the US to base air power in Iraq would be seen as a breech of trust between Iran and the US.

Any increase in air attacks by the coalition near to Baghdad and/or any incidents of collateral damage would be a setback.

Any involvement, tacit or otherwise, on the part of other Arab states, either in Iraq or Syria would result in a widening of the conflict.


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What About Iran?

Iran exercises great influence over the Shia’s in Iraq and as such it is central to any final settlement of conflict in Iraq and Syria. The active support of Assad in Syria is overt, resolute and includes a regular supply of weapons and manpower, usually achieved by overflying Iraq. So the airspace is getting a bit cluttered.

It might well be Syria will end up being partitioned, the northern half being administered by Turkey but there are many other conflicting outcomes.


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So where do we go from here?

The coalition would do well to maintain an air presence in the north of Iraq. Monitoring, but not getting involved in petty attacks, leaving ground forces to sort out their differences.

Hopefully the Iraqi’s will agree new ways of working so that they will be able to deal with the ISIS problem themselves.

The coalition should not become involved in any pursuit of ISIS in Syria. Assad and the Iranians are well capable of sorting ISIS and any other groups out themselves.

Funding should be provided to Turkey through the UN so that they will be able to maintain safe havens for refugees.


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Demography of Syria

Shiites worldwide are mainly supported and funded, where needed by Iran. Sunni Islam is the largest sect of Islam in the world, and is supported through Saudi Arabian efforts.

The Shiites (about 14% of the population) are viewed as heretics by many Sunni Islamists, and this guarantee’s Assad the support of Shias in Syria who fear, (with justification) a genocide should Sunni’s (about 68% of the population) ever gain power.

It is no surprise therefore that Syrian Sunni’s provide unqualified support to the rebel forces reflecting the hostility directed at Assad’s minority Shia Muslim government.

The Kurds are spread along the northern border of Syria and Iraq. They comprise about 10% of the Syrian population. Within Syria and Iraq they have largely been afforded a large measure of autonomy within the government’s of both countries.

Whilst the “civil war” has presented opportunities for the Kurds to join forces and create a new Kurdistan they have avoided the pitfalls of embarking on a dearly loved path of self governance in preference to attacking ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq.

Kurdish independence aspirations can only be deferred and at some future time in the near future the UN will need to give precedence to the Kurds and their passionate wish to become an independent nation.

Assad is very likely to give support to the creation of a Kurdish state along the border with Turkey since this would establish a border/buffer.

Assad has no love for Turkey which in turn would be vehemently against the creation of an independent Kurdistan since there is a very large Kurdish population in Turkey which has been brutally suppressed for many years.

The Druze, (who make up about 3% of the population) are regarded by all sides as a bit weird and friendless.  They live in close, often isolated communities and are treated badly by Muslims, of all sects.

The Assyrians, descendants of one of the oldest civilisations in the world (make up around 4% of the population) Assyrians are Christians and as such have been attacked by the varying Islamist sects in the course of the war. Their loyalties are split between Assad and the Kurds.

The Syrian Turkmen (make up about 1% of the population). The occupy an enclave in the North of Syria. They speak Turkish and enjoy full Turkish support.

Effectively the area is Turkish but perhaps recognising their position is tenuous they are extremely militant in the protection of their identity. They are anti Assad and just about any other group/sect.



March 2011: Clinton’s kiss of death – USA and Syria foreign  relations

Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton on Bashar al-Assad, 27 March 2011:

“Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”



May 2011: Syrian Insurrection

I advised previously that  the West (USA, France, UK etc.) should restrict military action against ISIS to those units operating in Iraq, allowing Assad, assisted by the Iranians to deal with any ISIS challenge to the state of Syria.

A few short months later the USA and some other coalition members expanded their attacks on ISIS to include Syria.

The war of attrition against ISIS became hopelessly confused, which soon  exposed the hypocrisy of Obama and Clinton who decided that “Regime Change” mirroring the brutal removal of Gaddafi in Libya would be to the benefit of Syrians and the free world.

President Assad and the predominant Alawite Shia Muslim ruling class, (which have retained control over almost all aspects of the government since 1971) chose to fight.

Regardless of the high risk of civilian casualties, the USA created, armed and provided extensive military support to a number of “fifth columnist” type militias gathered from  a number of sects opposed to the Syrian government, (including air cover and special forces on the ground in Syria).


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December 2012: Assad, at the end of another day of intense fighting I.S

Assad, under increasing pressure to step down from  the USA , UK  and rebel groups. His Russian and Iranian allies to  meet in Moscow to discuss the crisis.



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March 2014:  Israeli air-force launched air-strikes against Syrian Army positions in the Golan Heights claiming it to be in retaliation for an attack against Israeli forces the day before.

Tension in the disputed Golan Heights has increased recently and the exchange of fire was the heaviest since the Civil War in Syria started.


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April 2014:  President Assad praised a visiting Russian delegation thanking them for the assistance Russia is providing Syria in it’s time of need.

President Putin emphasised Russia’s pledge to support Syria during its “war against international terrorism,” which is also being supported by some Western and regional countries.



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October 2015:  Golan Heights oil discovery.

Reports of a huge Golan Heights oil discovery played down by Israeli press.

It is confirmed however that a robust oil-bearing strata has been identified but more tests will need to be completed to establish if hydrocarbons are extractable and usable.



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May 2016: The centennial of the badly flawed Sykes-Picot Agreement looms

the Ottoman Empire collapsed at the end of the World War in 1918 providing opportunity for Britain and France to carve up the Middle East creating countries with borders that had never previously existed, installing puppet regimes, propped up, where needed by the British Army.

The agreement never worked and brought with it endless wars, death and destruction on a massive scale. Borders are being redrawn in blood with no end in sight.

It is time to sign its death warrant and recraft the cartography rather than continue to dress the agreement up and parade its rotting corpse.


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May 2016: The conflict in Syria is not between the regime and it’s rebels

Early on it seemed like a revolution similar to that which occurred in Egypt and Tunisia. But the conflict in Syria is more complicated.

Foreign powers have turned the situation from a public uprising into a bloodbath. It is no longer about replacing one regime with another – it’s a fight for existence.


May 2016:  Foreign diplomats from many of the world’s nations held a summit to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Syria with the expectation that a failing peace accord could be rescued.

The main power brokers; Russia, USA, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UK, France and a number of other European countries were in attendance.

But, presented with the usual impasse, even after nearly 5 years of brutality resulting in excess of 400,000 Syrians there was no way forward.


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May 2016:  The war against ISIS and President Assad and Syria provides opportunity to review strategies used by the US and Russia.

It reveals worrying patterns last witnessed at the time of the Cold War.


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May 2016: Reinforcing Israel’s off stated claim to a part of Syria.

Netanyahu stated “Israel will never give up the Golan Heights. Damascus had the region for 19 years, but we’ve had it for 49.”

The response from Syria’s Foreign Minister was swift and direct. He said “We’re ready to retake the area by force. Syria is prepared to use military means to recapture the Golan Heights.”


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May 2016:  The USA assisted by the UK has been fighting wars in the Middle East for 15 years.

The cost of conducting campaigns has cost the long suffering taxpayers in excess of  $2trillion.

The wars, with radical Islamist factions have not been won.

Governments deny the public the truth with result that the wars will probably continue for decades.


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May 2016: Dennis Ross,  veteran US diplomat

I worked with the administration of President Barak Obama who took a conscious decision to try to distance himself and his administration from Israel.

The White House policy assumes that “Israel to be more of a problem than  a partner.”



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September 2016: The U.S. military admitted it had unintentionally struck Syrian troops while carrying out a raid against the Islamic State group.

They said the strike had been halted “when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.”

The Syrian military said the air-strike hit a base that is surrounded by IS, allowing the extremists to advance.

Russia’s military said it was told by the Syrian army that at least 62 soldiers had been killed and more than 100 wounded.

The strike could deal a crushing blow to a fragile U.S. and Russian-brokered cease-fire that has largely held for five days despite dozens of alleged violations on both sides.

The cease-fire, which does not apply to attacks on IS took effect on Monday, and despite reports of violations, it has largely held.

However, aid convoys have been unable to enter rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo — a key component of the deal.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin questioned the U.S. commitment to the cease-fire, suggesting that Washington wasn’t prepared to break with “terrorist elements” battling Assad’s forces.

Russia has also accused Washington of failing to rein in the rebels, and on Saturday Putin asked why the United States has insisted on not releasing a written copy of the agreement.

“This comes from the problems the U.S. is facing on the Syrian track — they still cannot separate the so-called healthy part of the opposition from the half-criminal and terrorist elements,” Putin said during a trip to Kyrgyzstan.  “In my opinion, this comes from the desire to keep the combat potential in fighting the legitimate government of Bashar Assad. But this is a very dangerous route.”

He appeared to be referring to the Fatah al-Sham Front, an al-Qaida-linked group previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, which is deeply embedded in rebel-held areas and fights alongside more moderate groups. Abu Mohammed al-Golani, the leader of the group, condemned the cease-fire agreement.


People dig in the rubble in an ongoing search for survivors at a site hit previously by an airstrike in the rebel-held Tariq al-Bab neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail



September 2016: On September 19, the US reported in breech of a peace deal that a convoy of trucks delivering aid to a rebel-held area of Aleppo had been attacked from the air. Anti-Assad government activists were emphatic the helicopters had dropped barrel bombs, followed by fighter jet strikes, which also used cluster bombs and-or machine gunned the area, keeping rebel help at bay so more witnesses would bleed to death. A video, submitted to the media by the US in support of the alleged attack showed trucks damaged by small-scale shrapnel (and/or bullets?) and gutted by fire It seemed to be consistent with the assertion, but it was unclear.

But Russia, which denied it’s aircraft or those of its Syrian government allies were involved, said it believed the convoy had not been struck from the air at all but had caught fire because of some incident on the ground.

It transpired that the US funded “White Helmets” had been involved in setting up the incident. See:



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October 2016: Aleppo: It may take some weeks but Aleppo will fall to Syrian government forces backed by Russian air power. Capturing the strategically important city, which is key to controlling Syria’s Northwest, will be an important military triumph for President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies. But it will be a crippling setback for the Western-backed Syrian rebels who, without quick reinforcements from their foreign backers, will be forced out of their stronghold.

Russia says it is targeting the Al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s Syrian branch changed its name in July 2016 stating it had cut ties with the network founded by Osama bin Laden.


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October 2016: U.N. envoy De Mistura has urged Moscow and Damascus to accept a deal under which the fighters around 1,000 members of the hard-line Islamist group Nusra would leave the city, while other insurgents and civilians would be allowed to remain. He offered to lead them out of the city himself to guarantee their safety.

It was put to De Mistura that his proposal getting the fighters out of Aleppo would make it easier for Syrian forces to take the city if their most effective opponents were removed, the official replied: “potentially.”  Russia accused the United States of failing to ensure that other rebels separated themselves from Al-Nusra, which Moscow and Washington both regard as a terrorist group excluded from the ceasefire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Paris on Oct. 19 to discuss Syria with his French counterpart Francois Hollande, the only diplomatic track still active over efforts to bring peace to the country.

President Assad, in an interview on Swedish television accused Washington of using al-Nusra as a proxy, and said this was why the ceasefire had collapsed. “It’s an American card. Without al-Nusra, the Americans cannot have any real, let’s say, concrete and effective card in the Syrian arena,” he said.



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October 2016: The Syrian army has been greatly strengthened through the addition of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. It is now a formidable fighting force and is well placed to win the war against rebel groups before the year end. What comes next?

Russia and Iran have proved to be unshakable in their support of Syria and this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Recovery of any part of Syria not under the control of President Assad and the Syrian government would be given top priority.

The Golan Heights, illegally occupied for many years by Israel is very likely to be targetted by Assad, supported by his allies and this is a potentially catastrophic event since any involvement of Russian forces against the Israelis in support of Syria would bring about a confrontation with the USA.