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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Labour and Assad

 
  • We need a Labour policy on Syria that puts a commitment to protecting civilians first.
  • We need a Labour policy on Syria that commits to stopping Assad’s crimes.
  • We need all parties and all members of Parliament to unite in supporting action to end the slaughter in Syria.

We are deeply concerned at the current treatment of Syria by Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary.

In listing what’s currently happening in Syria for her Guardian article last week, Emily Thornberry covered everything EXCEPT Assad and Putin’s attacks on civilians. The Assad regime, responsible for most of the killing, wasn’t even mentioned. Why was that?

A reminder: In October Emily Thornberry was giving her backing to a pro Assad conspiracy theorist attacking the BBC.

Also in October Emily Thornberry told an activist that the UK should fund Syria’s reconstruction even with Assad in place, that “a few political prisoners” were not more important than “starving Syrian children.”

In December Emily Thornberry introduced into a debate in the Commons a proposal to make a deal with Russia and Iran to keep Assad in place, where Iranian and Coalition forces would leave, and the UK would help fund reconstruction under Assad’s rule.

Emily Thornberry then said the proposal wasn’t hers, but she didn’t say whose proposal it was, and she didn’t rule out spending UK taxpayer money on rebuilding Syrian cities bombed by Assad while still keeping the Assad dictatorship in place.

Protect Civilians

Emily Thornberry’s blanking of Assad and Putin’s ongoing attacks on civilians was one problem with last week’s article. Another was her falling in line with Jeremy Corbyn’s distorted view of the 2011 NATO mission to protect civilians in Libya, and of what followed after.

Evidence suggests NATO likely saved many lives in Libya up to September 2011. But the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) wasn’t up to the task it was given after that.

NATO’s 2011 mission was legally defined as protecting civilians. Today the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition’s legal justification is collective defence of a state, Iraq. The effect of this is that NATO was responsible for relatively few civilian deaths in 2011, but the Coalition has killed thousands.

Airwars estimates that the Coalition strikes killed over one thousand civilians in the assault on Raqqa. Many more civilians were killed in other towns and cities, particularly in taking Mosul in Iraq.

One might expect Labour’s Emily Thornberry to be concerned about the number of civilians killed by the Coalition in Raqqa. But it seems not.

Instead she used a Parliamentary debate on the taking of Raqqa as a cue to attack UK support for Syria’s pro-democracy opposition.

We need a Labour policy on Syria that puts a commitment to protecting civilians first.

We need a Labour policy on Syria that commits to stopping Assad’s crimes.

We need all parties and all members of Parliament to unite in supporting action to end the slaughter in Syria.

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