Tag Archives: iraq

Opinion: Islamic State – it’s a conundrum

iraqI see myself as a small time politician who has an opinion on everything. But the proposed bombing of ISEL / ISIS (IS) worries me as I am conflicted as to what the right answer is. Does the term ‘We’ve been here’ before resonate?  And how about ‘We can’t just stand back and let these atrocities continue’?

Our record of being involved in the Middle East is very poor. On the last two Gulf wars we have demonstrated our military might but not foresight. We have demolished the perceived threat (although we still haven’t found weapons of mass destruction) excused ourselves out with ‘Now the right people will step up and do the right thing’. In each case we have failed to note that the population has been devastated by the wars. Ironically, we in the west have continually failed to recognise that the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent, if given the choice, much prefer the Western way of life. But if you have just been battered in a war, and those you hope would ally with you have done this, you turn to what is familiar and away from what you may have once aspired.

photo by: The U.S. Army
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Lib Dem members on intervention against ISIS: 59% back air strikes, 49% support sending troops

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Support for British intervention in Iraq and in Syria to stop ISIS

MPs voted on Friday for limited British intervention in Iraq to combat the threat posed by the terrorist group Islamic State/ISIS. According to our survey of party members, that action has the backing of most Lib Dems. By a more than 2:1 majority – 59% to 27% – Lib Dem members approve of the RAF taking part in air strike operations.

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Opinion: Why the Lib Dem membership should strongly oppose the UK’s new Iraq-Syria ‘bombing war’

iraqBeheadings, women buried alive, executions for being in the wrong tribe ? This is not the democratic peaceful Iraq promised in 2003. But just 3 years after the US withdrawal, they went back again in early August with a bombing campaign, and now the UK is joining them.

The Prime Minister’s intent to bomb Syria as well as Iraq is the subject of apparent disagreement between the Foreign Office and Downing St. The flaky legal justification is that Syria is unable to prevent fighters from crossing the (unmarked) desert border into Iraq. However, since the US has declared the Syrian regime illegitimate and has supported anti-government rebels, it has contributed to that ‘inability’. That explains the Foreign Office reticence.

photo by: The U.S. Army
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The Independent View: An Arab EU could be the answer the Middle East needs

The Islamic State is a symptom of a much wider and more dangerous split in the Islamic world between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities across the Middle East. Whatever action Western governments undertake to stop the Islamo-fascists ISIS, more must be done to mend an age-old split between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

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Liblink: Paddy Ashdown on IS and Iraq

rally paddy ashdown 3

Three years ago, when the world obsessed about President Assad, some of us warned that Syria was only one frontline in a wider sectarian war between Sunni and Shia; that the spread of militant jihadism among the Sunni community, funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was a preparation for this. And that before long this movement, like the 30 years’ religious war of 17th-century Europe, would threaten to engulf the entire Muslim world

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Martin Horwood writes …Tony Blair’s legacy

Tony BlairTwenty years ago yesterday Tony Blair became Labour Party Leader. The man who delivered a landslide victory for Labour in 1997 is now seen as a polarising figure in British politics.

Blair loved to be seen as a ‘modernising’ force in his party. Whether it was the abandonment of Clause 4, the drinks receptions for celebrities or leading a Government which was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”, this was a world away from ‘Old Labour’.

As Prime Minister, however, there is no doubt it was his approach to foreign policy that defined his premiership.

Britain’s involvement in the illegal war in Iraq left a particularly indelible mark. Blair seemed to offer Parliament a choice. But his case was built on sandy foundations: his personal word that the intelligence case presented to MPs had not been exaggerated or ‘sexed up’.

Blair had used his own personal charisma to defeat opposition to his changes to the public sector and indeed to the Labour Party itself. He used this tool once again in making the case for the Iraq invasion, alongside a particular brand of political ‘spin’ that grew to typify Labour’s approach in office.

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Opinion: Sending more weapons to the Middle East is not the answer

iraqIt is truly saddening to read of recent events in Iraq. Seeing the horrific images that have been all over the media for the last few days, it is impossible for your heart not to go out to the millions of people in the region who have suffered for many years at the hands of oppressive governments, violent rebels and misguided Western intervention.

It is therefore maddening to see politicians in both the US and the UK suggesting that we should assist them with military aid including both troops on the …

photo by: The U.S. Army
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Nick Clegg’s press conference: A new policy, looking ahead to an “independent, liberal” manifesto, Iraq, leadership and Smarties

Nick Clegg Q&A 19I promised you a bit more from Nick Clegg’s  monthly press conference this morning. Overnight, he had released his opening statement, but there was a surprise to come – a shiny new policy.  Now, obviously, that has to come to Conference so it’s not set in stone, but I suspect it will get a favourable hearing.

From cradle to college

Basically, all early years and school education funding, including the Pupil Premium, will be ring-fenced.

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Paddy: “A problem caused by killing Arab Muslims won’t be made better by killing more with Western weapons”

rally paddy 01I had been waiting to see what Paddy Ashdown would have to say on Iraq because he’s probably the person in British politics who best understands the international complexities of all the world’s flashpoints.

On a day when Tony Blair is urging speedy action to deal with extremism, Paddy spoke to Sky News’ Murnaghan programme about what he thinks should happen. He was asked if Blair was right to be interventionist. His reply that intervening didn’t necessarily mean blowing things and people up:

I’m firmly interventionist because I believe

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LibLink: Sir Robert Smith – We must not turn our back on Afghanistan

At a workshop on child rights at French Cultural Centre, Kabul, AfghanistanSir Robert Smith, Lib Dem MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine and Co-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Afghanistan, has written this week about the need for Britain, as our direct military involvement comes to an end, to ensure we keep our promise to maintain support for a developing Afghanistan.

… the attacks of September the 11th brought home the fact that what happened in that far away country made a difference back here.

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Clegg: Five reasons why this is not Iraq

Nick Clegg has just sent the following email to Liberal Democrat party members:

Dear member,

Tomorrow Parliament will consider international action in Syria.

I have been adamant from the outset: any case for international action must be taken to the UN in an effort to achieve as great an international consensus as possible. And I have made certain this is taking place.

We must wait until we hear from the weapons inspectors.

Ahead of tomorrow’s debate, you can read the full wording of the motion we’ll be laying before Parliament here.

For the past week I have been in regular discussions with the Prime Minister, …

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Opinion: We await the lessons of Iraq while new conflicts loom

It is ten years this week since I agreed to act as lead independent political and governance adviser in Iraq, primarily in the British-controlled Southern Provinces – despite my known anti-war views. It was a harrowing experience, risking the ultimate on a daily basis, appointing directly the first regional government in Basra by way of negotiations with largely hostile tribal, political and religious groups, and then working on other problems.

There has been much reflection in the media in the last few days over the failures of the conflict, its illegality, and lessons for the future, notwithstanding the absence, as yet,  …

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Ming Campbell writes: Britain lost moral authority as a result of its participation in Iraq

 Some rights reserved by mashleymorgan Today is the 10th Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. We are marking it by publishing reflections on the war and its aftermath by senior Liberal Democrats.

The second is by Ming Campbell.

It is hard now to find anyone who will defend British participation in the American-led invasion of Iraq ten years ago. Labour’s current frontbench seek now only to distance themselves from personal involvement in the decision to go to war and it has been all but airbrushed out of recent Tory history. Even in …

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – If Iraq taught us anything, it’s this…

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the invasion by the USA and the UK of Iraq. In an article published in The Independent, Nick Clegg reflects on the decisions made by the last Labour government and the lessons to be drawn. Here’s an excerpt:

The pretext given by the Blair government for the invasion – Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction – proved false. The intervention led to years of instability, sectarian violence and religious extremism within Iraq and beyond. It strengthened Iran’s ability to destabilise its neighbours and it undermined the credibility of the United Nations.

The

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LibLink… Paddy Ashdown: It’s not a fight against “us”, it’s Islam vs Islam

Mali rebel - License Some rights reserved by MagharebiaIn an article in today’s Times, Paddy Ashdown concedes that David Cameron is probably right that the so-called War on Terror (a term Paddy dislikes) will go on for another decade. Paddy argues that we need to recognise that the way western countries have been operating doesn’t work. What is needed now is to recognise that the fight is between different factions of Islam. It should be our job to help out moderate governments where we can.

He outlined why the “invasions, main battle armies and occupation” of

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In depth: Was the 2003 invasion of Iraq illegal?

In responding to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s call for Tony Blair to face the International Criminal Court, I made clear my view that the 2003 Iraq invasion was an illegal – and criminal – act of aggression. John Rentoul of the Independent on Sunday angrily disputed this on the BBC World Service’s “World, Have your say”, and other commenters here on LDV have asked for an outline of my reasoning.

Aggression – known at Nuremburg as “crimes against

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Opinion: Is Tutu right on Tony Blair?

Like so many of us for whom the anti-apartheid struggle was a political awakening in the 1980s, I revere Bishop Desmond Tutu. A voice of humanity, moderation and forgiveness when there was every chance that South Africa’s transition could have gone very differently, Tutu combines unsurpassed moral leadership with no political ambition.

It was therefore with great interest I awoke on Sunday to Tutu’s call for Tony Blair to face the International Criminal Court on charges for aggression resulting from the 2003 Iraq invasion. Tutu goes on to question why Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe should go to the ICC whilst Blair …

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Opinion: Foreign policy lessons for the Lib Dem approach to Iran

The Green movement in Iran after the presidential elections in 2009 was the first of the recent popular backlashes against entrenched corruption in authoritarian regimes. That was followed by the Arab spring, continuing upheaval in Egypt and now a similar movement in Russia and elsewhere.

At the time of the electoral protests in Tehran, Iranian staff at the British embassy were being accused by the Iranian authorities of treason and fomenting unrest. There was only muted support for the reform movement in Iran from the international community.

Last month we saw the British Embassy in Tehran ransacked and vandalised

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A welcome shift in international interventions

News of the Arab League’s sanctions against Syria brings to mind the Curate’s Egg – good in parts. That such sanctions are unprecedented shows a welcome increase once more in the Arab League’s willingness to stand up to dictators where mass violence against the population is involved. (Other dictators are another matter of course.) After the steps in Libya and now Syria, the Arab League is looking rather more like a body that does good rather than excuses evil.

That transformation only goes so far. For it has taken months and around 3,500 deaths to bring about sanctions which are …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

Nick Clegg: Learning the lesson of Iraq, planning the peace

Nick Clegg has given a speech on the Arab Spring today at the British Council. He also included a passage on last night’s dramatic events in Libya:

The advances made by the Free Libya Forces in Tripoli would have been unthinkable just a few months ago. Unimaginable, even, for the generations of young Libyans who have never known a world without Qadhafi. Now, that world is within their reach. The momentum for change is breathtaking and, for the cynics who said change wasn’t possible, who had written off the Libyan uprising, written off the Arab Spring, clearly, they were wrong. The

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The Independent View: What the Chilcott Inquiry has missed – the role of oil in the Iraq war

While change sweeps the Middle East and fighting escalates in Libya, the Chilcott Inquiry continues to consider the lessons of the Iraq war. The Inquiry has taught us more about the timing, process and legality of key decisions, but the elephant in the room remains the role oil played in those decisions.

“The oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it,” said Tony Blair in February 2003. His protestations were sufficiently effective that in media and parliamentary debates, raising the oil issue became a sure-fire route to losing credibility. And so Chilcott, who …

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Nick Clegg lays down five principles of intervention – but doesn’t explain the Ivory Coast

In a major foreign policy speech in Mexico this week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg laid out five reasons why intervention in Libya was the right course to take and different from Iraq. However, applying those five reasons to the Ivory Coast raises the question why it is being treated so differently from Libya.

In his speech, Clegg said that Libya different from Iraq because:

First, the Libyan action is unambiguously legal. Iraq was not.

Second, there is a clear humanitarian case for intervention in Libya. In Iraq the case rested solely on the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, a

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Opinion: Why Lib Dems should reject the doctrine of liberal interventionism

If the regular politics of coalition is a walk in a minefield, the Libya crisis presents Lib Dems with a walk in a minefield while being haunted by a pair of malevolent ghouls.

Those twin ghouls are ghosts of conflicts past, conflicts where Britain intervened and expedited disaster, such as Iraq , and the countries where the UK sat on its hands, and watched disaster unfold, such as in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

There are a number interesting, and from a Lib Dem point of view welcome, feature of the debate concerning the possibility of the western intervention in Libya, …

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Nick Clegg on Libya: “This is not Iraq”

From the BBC:

Nick Clegg has voiced his support for possible military intervention in Libya, saying that any action would be carried out in order to “uphold international law”.

The deputy prime minister, whose Liberal Democrat Party opposed the war in Iraq, said: “This is not Iraq. We are not going to war”.

His comments came after Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that UK forces would join an international operation to enforce a UN resolution which demands an end to attacks on Libyan civilians.

For the full story, and a video of the BBC’s interview with Nick Clegg, see the BBC website.

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Blair criticised by top civil servant for keeping Iraq legal advice from Cabinet

The Guardian reports:

The country’s most senior civil servant … said the cabinet should have been told of the attorney general’s doubts about the legality of invading Iraq before Tony Blair went to war.

“The ministerial code is very clear about the need, when the attorney general gives written advice, the full text of that advice should be attached “, Sir Gus O’Donnell told the Iraq inquiry.

The clear implication of his evidence is that Blair breached the code of conduct ministers have a duty to uphold.

You can read the full story here.

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Ed Miliband’s new-found opposition to the Iraq war: what his voting record shows

Ed Miliband was not an MP in 2003, when Labour and Conservative MPs voted en masse to approve the British invasion of Iraq: so we do not know how he would have voted if he had had the opportunity.

The Ed-supporting New Statesman has been keen to promote his anti-Iraq war credentials — see for example their third-hand hearsay evidence here — but there appears to be nothing on the public record to back up his claim.

We are left, therefore, with Ed Miliband’s voting record in the one full Parliament in which he has served. Take a look at the new Labour leader’s voting record in the House of Commons, as recorded by PublicWhip.org.

As you can see, Mr E. Miliband has a proud 0% voting record on the issue of ‘Iraq Investigation – Necessary’. There were 10 separate votes in the House of Commons in the period in which he has been an MP: in not a single one of these did Mr E. Miliband take the opportunity to make clear, or even hint at, what he now so sincerely believes: that the Iraq war was wrong.

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The Independent View: Britain should move ahead in Iraq and Kurdistan

The Lib Dems are proud of their internationalism. It was one thing to oppose the intervention in Iraq and to continue as mistakes after the fall of Saddam were laid bare, but Iraqis like myself are keen to see your party develop its policy seven years later towards Iraq and Kurdistan, the region where I come from which is the stable, secure, commercial gateway to Iraq and Britain’s ally. The key question now is how can the LibDems support the Iraqi political process and ensure that Britain isn’t left behind other European countries in business, cultural and educational exchange with …

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How the Westminster Village media is still struggling with concept of coalition

It can be surprisingly easy to excite some journalists. Today is a case in point. Nick Clegg stood in for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions. During his exchanges with Jack Straw (who was standing in for Labour’s Harriet Harman), the Deputy Prime Minister referred to the invasion of Iraq as “illegal”.

To most people watching this is not a surprise. The Lib Dems’ opposition to the Iraq war, which was supported by both Labour and the Tories, is pretty well-documented, I think it’s fair to say. The fact that the Lib Dems and Conservatives have reached a coalition agreement does not alter the past, nor does it alter politicians’ individual views. Why should it?

And yet the response from some journalists has been to label this a “gaffe” – a term otherwise known as a politician saying something he believes which a journalist hopes to be able to spin into a story.

Indeed, it’s interesting to see how a story like this can develop.

Posted in Op-eds and PMQs | Also tagged , , , , and | 56 Comments

Labour misled Britain over Iraq role in terror threat – Farron

A party news release hits The Voice’s inbox:

Commenting on Eliza Manningham-Buller’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, in which she said the conflict in Iraq ‘substantially’ increased the threat to the UK from international terrorism, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Tim Farron said:

“This is a shattering blow for Labour’s claim that the Iraq war did not increase the terrorist threat to Britain.

“We already knew that this was a disastrous war for our own brave service personnel and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Now we have the head of MI5 at the time saying …

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“Labour is shunning gay Iraqis, asylum seekers”

That’s the headline on a comment piece run by Pink News:

As he launched Labour’s international LGBT manifesto last Wednesday, foreign secretary David Miliband made one howler, echoed by another in the manifesto’s text.

He said: “Under Labour the UK will continue to be a beacon of hope for LGBT people.”

This delusion sounded a lot like Home Office minister Phil Woolas’ article last year, when he wrote that he was proud of the attendees of the London Pride march who’d found sanctuary in the UK – never mind that his office would have refused them and fought tooth-and-nail to remove them.

The pair

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarsuzanne fletcher 1st Nov - 1:09pm
    we seem to be forgetting that although it is said to be Italy's decision, it is Italy that is bearing the brunt of boats heading...
  • User AvatarHelen Tedcastle 1st Nov - 1:03pm
    Richard Church ' ...and they are clearly saying that they do not want to be pigeonholed by people who are desperate to defend continuing religious...
  • User AvatarStephen Donnelly 1st Nov - 12:53pm
    Nothing against an overseas appointment, but there must be someone outside the London establishment able to chair this enquiry. Are there no people from a...
  • User AvatarPeter Chegwyn 1st Nov - 12:48pm
    In answer to Simon's question, three at best, one at worst. And Simon is absolutely right to say that instead of gloating about Labour's problems...
  • User AvatarStephen Donnelly 1st Nov - 12:43pm
    Inevitable result of dispirited members who have little interest in the narrow target strategy, and a clique ridden structure that prevents new blood becoming involved.
  • User AvatarStephen Donnelly 1st Nov - 12:40pm
    I question whether there is a role for government to play here.