So, the UK has joined the bombing-fest in Syria. “About time” I hear some say. But I think there is an elephant in the room. Well, actually, it looks like there is a whole house full of elephants. I’ll mention some, but I’m sure I could keep adding to the list. maybe you have some suggestions?
Elephant in the living room… Saudi Arabia
With that kind of background, is it any surprise that there are plenty of stories suggesting that Saudi Arabia helped Isis take-over the north of the country.
Elephant in the lounge… Turkey
So, who are the bravest of all the fighters in Syria? Why, it’s the pluck Kurds. They fought bravely (with some help from US bombings – which goes to prove that boots on the ground are needed) and have pushed back Daesh from the northern border, regaining their territory.
You’d think that everybody would thank them, right? Wrong. Instead, our allies in this mess, the Turks, are now bombing the Kurds. It seems the Kurds were born to be betrayed. Almost every would-be Middle East statelet was promised freedom after the First World War, and the Kurds even sent a delegation to Versailles to ask for a nation and safe borders. Without luck.
Now, it probably doesn’t come that much as a surprise that the Turks are bombing the Kurds. They’ve been at it ofr decades. But, there might be a little more to it than that…
Elephant in the closet… Oil
Isis controls most of Syria’s oil fields and crude is the militant group’s biggest single source of revenue. But who buys the oil from them?
And then there is the other story nobody wants to talk about… While many media outlets talk about this, it never featured in the bombing debate here in the UK. Namely that one person in particular is making money out of the Daesh oil: Bilal Erdogan, the son of Turkey’s President. But in addition to son Bilal’s illegal and lucrative oil trading for ISIS, Sümeyye Erdogan, the daughter of the Turkish President apparently runs a secret hospital camp inside Turkey just over the Syrian border. For who? Certainly not the Kurds…
Elephant in the kitchen… Iraq
In the UK bombing debate we were told that we’re already bombing in Iraq because the government asked for help, so what difference would bombing in Syria make. What wasn’t mentioned is what put the Iraqi government into this current predicament – which is that it is Shia dominated, and aims to dominate the Sunis. What do unhappy Sunis do? They join the fight against their government.
Powerful regional tribes such as the Shammar and Anezah, faced with countless dead and persecuted members in both Syria and Iraq, banded together with former Iraqi and Syrian military officers, embracing Isis jihadis as their frontline shock troops. Cash poured in from sympathetic donors around the region.
Elephant in the bedroom… Effectiveness
The US has been bombing Daesh since September 2014. What are the results? It doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference. Sure, they got Jihad Jonny and a few other people, but fighting Daesh is a bit like playing the Whack-a-mole game. You smash them here and there, and they pop up somewhere else.
The only place where it did work was, as mentioned earlier, in support of the Kurds. There bombing worked because it was in support of ground troops.
Beyond powerful bombing runs which do kill civilians, the Russian assaults are conducted by helicopter gunships flying between 50 and 150 metres above the ground. Something they obviously learnt during their years of being bogged down in Afghanistan. That’s the only reliable way you can pinpoint your target.
Elephant in the bedroom… Libya
Ah yes. Of course, David Cameron bombed that too.
And as in Syria, ISIS have been building a stronghold in Sirte – situated near key oilfields. Out of all papers to talk about this new threat, it is the Daily Mail that is talking sense. The number of fighter is still small, around 800, but once access to Syria gets shut down, volunteers will no doubt start flooding into Libya too. And from there will keep seeping over to Egypt, Mali and other Islamic countries. Will we need to go back and wack-a-mole bomb these countries too?
Elephant in the bedroom… Co-ordination
And last, but not least, I am curious about this most mysterious aspect: who is coordinating all these bombings? There hasn’t been any announcement of an official air-strike HQ, or has there? The assumption is that its the USA, using the NATO framework, that is supplying the targets for French and UK bombers, and Assad supplies the targets for the Russians.
But, this lack of an official command structure for the allies sort of reflects the lack of long-term thinking when it comes to these air strikes. Without it you wont be able to question generals on how they are planning to win this conflict, or if there are any plans about ground troops, let alone those pesky questions about the Saudis or Turkey. It all has to go through politicians who sold us this war in the first place.
And now that bombing has been approved here in the UK, the public will not be asked again about what happens in our name.
Might be time for us to go and hide in the cellar?
The cover photo, by the way, is from the film Apocalypse Now, beach scene. “Napalm in the monring… to me it smells like victory.”