Hanif Leylabi writes on why we should oppose the latest British military adventure in Iraq
ISIS cannot be defeated without the involvement and cooperation of the people living in the areas currently under its control. Bombing these predominantly Sunni towns will not help win them over. Civilians have already been killed by US airstrikes in Iraq – that is the reality of airstrikes behind all the hype about “precision targets”.
This bombing campaign will cement any existing feeling in the region of “rather ISIS than Shia militia or American troops”. Bombing Iraq will only make it harder for Sunni organisations who are already resisting ISIS to win the political arguments. And it will make it easier for ISIS to pose as the best option for those who oppose US imperialism.
We cannot forget the historical record of US and British in Iraq. It was Bush and Blair’s disastrous 2003 invasion of the country that caused this mess in the first place. Prior to that invasion the US pushed through sanctions against Iraq that destroyed the country’s healthcare system and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. That is the reality of Western intervention in the country. There is no reason to think it will be any different this time.
And do not believe that Western governments are doing this for humanitarian reasons. The UK sells weapons to Saudi Arabia whose army helped put down a popular uprising in Bahrain. US-led sanctions on Iran are causing severe medicine shortages there. The British and American ruling class use military force to advance their own interests – not those of the people in the region, whatever their religion, nationality or ethnicity.
There is no quick fix for ISIS or the wider troubles in Iraq. The anti-war movement said that the 2003 invasion would set the Middle East on fire. Unfortunately we were right. Even those leaders in the West advocating airstrikes say this is going to be a two or three year project at the very least. We were told the same thing about Afghanistan over a decade ago – yet the troops are still there.
We have to ask whether military action by Britain make the Middle East any safer or easier for the people living there. The answer was no in 2003 and ISIS would not exist if our governments had listened to anti-war voices. The answer is still no in 2014.