Fire blazes in the skies above the scorched Syrian desert. Another hospital fire bombed by Russian bombers. Innocent civilians, the collateral damage ligament to the Western bombing campaign to scourge Syrian and Iraqi fundamentalist strongholds. As the decision to launch air strikes was appealed in Parliament, what does the future hold for this region in disarray? Will our intervention make a significant difference to counteract the rise in Islamic radicalisation?
Understanding the context to the unrest in the region is key before engaging the complex interrelations in the Middle East. Dwindling economic growth and the concurrent Arab Spring uprisings engaged and inspired populations disenfranchised with the incumbent plutocratic regimes to up roots and take to the streets in the name of 'democratisation'.
It is worth noting the case of a dominant regime intervening as the exception to the successful uprisings. The Bahraini principality managed to preserve the original Monarchist state and power structures by means of outside support. When facing uprisings, Bahrain was propped up by Western neo-conservatism through a Saudi Arabian Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) proxy allied war. The allegiances preserved the authoritarian structures, preventing the power vacuums we see today in Syria.
The principle interest of western states in the Middle East seemed, at least superficially, to lie within those countries who could provide favourable contribution to their national securities. The pre-eminent factor in preserving Western energy security in Bahrain was its abundant natural resource stocks. Unfortunately for Syrian stability, Assad did not share the common features or association with other Arab states. Instead, he chose to partner with Russia and China in allegiances and so was left to the whims of revolutionary overhaul and turmoil.
We elect the representative body in the House of Commons for the very reason they make the difficult decisions others are not prepared to
The stance adopted by America toward Russia in the wake of Turkey shooting down the fighter jet emphasises the Western power assertions by the US as the world's focal hegemonic state. The distrust and antagonism paint a bleak picture of flagrant disregard for states outside of their own, caught up in selfish foreign policy agendas. Icy tensions and proxy wars reminiscent of defunct Cold War ideologies, epitomise the current distrust between the hegemonic nation states, begging the question: are the interventions really in Syria's best interest?
The fundamental agenda for much of Parliament lay with the legality of intervention in a post Iraq war environment. The establishing of a United Nations resolution underpinned the legitimacy of intervention in the region for the undecided cohorts. While the proviso for legality lies with the creation of government structures in the power vacuum void left post-Islamic State, and prior to, the Assad regime.
Given the motion 'to bomb' was passed in hast without resolute establishment of no-bombing zones for civilians, a condition Russia has violated in indiscriminate attacks on ISIL held Deir-ez-Zor amounting to civilian casualties. When juxtaposed with the lack of a credible strategy for diplomatic Syrian settlement, this only served to perpetuate the cyclical disarray we impose on the region.
These outcomes are mere repercussions and ramifications of failures to address the refugee crisis, civilian casualties, the impact of the terrorist threat, or lending enough pressure on Gulf states to become involved in resolving the issue and investigating jihadi funding, all with greater gumption than we are currently seeing. The populist voice renders it better to take action rather than pursue a course of inaction.
Jeremy Corbyn criticised the government's 'knee-jerk' reaction and objected profusely to the labelling of himself a 'terrorist sympathiser', claiming it not only undermined the severity of deliberations but demeaned the office of the Prime Minister. Corbyn desired lucid and unequivocal resolution by the United Nations to sanction military intervention in the region as precursor to any interference. The lack of apologies by Cameron exemplified the out of touch accountability and contempt his inner circle display toward lives in these regions compared with their own backyard.
Austerity measures in tandem with a engaging in war against ISIL marks a noteworthy contradiction. The claim that we cannot spend outside of our means and need to balance the budget becomes the justification for not being able to afford a public NHS, nor welfare support for the lower income classes or disabled. This is reflected in the £12 billion cuts to tax credits in the Autumn statement and reduction in public services, impacting lower income earners more likely to utilise and need them. While simultaneously, according to Sky News, each RAF mission will cost in the region of £1 million, with the allowance for differing payload operations. The disparity was emphasised by a minority from Labour and other subsidiary opposition, and in acknowledgement are labelled as 'unpatriotic' and as 'terrorist sympathisers'. The ambivalence between the dichotomies is self-evident of the untruth that 'We are all in it together'.
The viable prospective for progress in the region appears to lie with splitting the states according to their cultural distinctions, namely Kurds to the North, a Sunni centrality and Shia to the western provinces. While, as undesirable as it may be, Bashar Al-Assad may be the only viable candidate, under Russian jurisdiction, to unify the state of Syria. Whether a unified state is the best outcome is another matter altogether. France, in the aftermath of the Parisian bombings, softened its hard line approach to Russian belligerence, and may well concede in sanctioning Assad back in as the figurehead.
Placating Russia appears the only viable alternative to all out rising tensions between the western states, although the distorted media frenzy may well blow the discrepancies out of proportion. This extends to the degree that Cameron sought to push and 'whip' the motion through Parliament to further his poise as a 'strong and active' leader of Britain, brought to bear as a member of NATO, even if this comes at the expense of his morality. Time shall tell.
The current state of affairs in the region where ISIL has been allowed to grow and establish to such an extent is the real tyranny in this situation. That is what renders divergent options of peace promoting ideals, democracy and intervention without use of force unviable in light of the context today.
While media outlets and closet politicians spring out of the woodwork, quick to judge and belittle the constitutional processes, real debate was held in Westminster for ten hours. This led to sweeping indecision and discrepancy. Contradictions were voiced amongst members of the same parties, leading to apparent splits within Labour, posing the question of two distinct Labour offshoot parties in future.
We elect the representative body in the House of Commons for the very reason they make the difficult decisions others are not prepared to. While they have to live with their choices, we can continue as if nothing significant has happened in our lives in the run up to Christmas, consciences clear in the assuring belief, we had not passed judgement over someone's life or death.
Democracy is messy, no one pretends it is not. TMM