Tag Archives: ISIS

The Shamima Begum Case: As with Brexit, the Dutch are better prepared for what is coming anyway

As has become a tradition over the past decades, the LibDems and Dutch sister party D66 sing from exactly the same hymn sheet on the subject of taking back “ISIS jihad brides” and their children from the Syrian-Kurdish YPG/SDF prisoner camps they’re housed in at the moment.

And just as usual, the ALDE right wing (in the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD) is fervently opposed to taking back anybody who has moved to the ISIS Caliphate since 2014, thus bending liberal, judicial and humanist principles to populist kneejerk reactions.

In the Netherlands, Rutte and the VVD know they stand alone (among non-populist, centrist, normal thinking parties) in refusing re-entry; and they know they’re ignoring a special article in the Dutch Constitution. The country of Grotius declares in article 90 of our constitution:

The government stimulates the development of the international rule of law and juridical order.

Scrupulous care for human rights, and the welcome (and where necessary judgment) to “lost sons”, are thus part of what Dutch governments and prime ministers must stand for. And D66 has a traditional attitude of caring about such aspects especially.

In a TV election debate in 2015, VVD leader and (then also) Prime Minister Rutte shocked everybody present by agreeing to the statement: “people travelling to the ISIS Caliphate are better off dying there and shouldn’t be allowed to return”.

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Victim or Terrorist? Thoughts on Shamima Begum

The situation with Shamima Begum has been one that I have been ruminating over for the last few days, whether it has been the racist headline of the Metro on Friday (“Jihadi Bride wants baby on NHS”) or the utterly appalling misogyny and unconscious racism displayed on this topic by politicians, friends and others on social media.

For those of you who may not remember, at 15, Shamima Begum left the U.K. with two friends to go to ISIS-controlled territories in the Middle East. There, shortly after arrival, she was married to someone she had been introduced to online who …

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Shamima Begum: The approval of the right wing press should not be part of what happens next

I read the interview with Shamima Begum in today’s Times (£) with mixed emotions. I have There is no doubt that she has made some utterly horrendous decisions in her young life which will take a lot to unravel. My instinctive reaction, though, is that rehabilitation must be at the heart of what happens next.

She is a British citizen. So is her soon-to-be-born baby. She cannot be denied access to this country. If she does make it back here, there will have to specialist intervention and risk assessment but the overarching aim should be to get her to a place where she can be re-integrated into society. That is not going to be easy for her, but nor should it be excessively punitive either.

She says some things in her interview that are undeniably hard to read. And even worse to listen to. But I guess you have to remember that in the last 3 months, she has lost two young children for want of decent health care. It’s early stages in the grieving process. You can maybe see where the denial and defiance comes from. We can only imagine the pain that lies beneath it.

As I write, her family’s lawyer is making the point on Channel 4 News that she is in a camp with 36000 others, some of whom remain ISIS supporters. If she were to speak out against ISIS to the press, she could find herself in even more danger.

We also have to remember that her own mother died a year before she left this country. How might that loss have rendered her more susceptible to targeted radicalisation? A huge amount of work needs to be done by her and others to combat the effects of that, but we should give her access to the programs can achieve that.

One thing that we shouldn’t do, though, is allow the approval of the right wing press to have any part in this. We should do what is right in terms of the law, human rights and due process. We have to take into account her age and vulnerability and circumstances at the time she made the extremely poor decision to travel to Syria.

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Peers’ input on the Syrian air strike question

We’ve heard a lot about the Commons debate on the expansion of UK air strikes into Syria. There were also some very good speeches on the subject in the House of Lords, during a discussion held at the same time as the Commons’ one, plus good peers’ input elsewhere.

You can browse the Peers’ debate here both in video and text form.

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Defeat ISIS? Reform Europe

Go to war or don’t go to war: it amounts to the same thing. Intervene, and the deaths will be collateral. Don’t intervene, and the deaths might have been preventable. So long as ISIS and Assad are intent on having a war civilians are going to die.

Conventional warfare normally looks like this: you cost the enemy so much that they have to come to the table, and accept terms they would otherwise reject because the threat of further losses is too great to risk.

This strategy is not viable.

The Caliphate seeks to create a state under a radical, neo-traditionalist interpretation of Islamic scripture without the corrupting influence of ‘modern’ philosophy. It does not matter if this influence is from the West or Muslim scholars. This state will then provoke the ‘armies of Rome’ into a battle at Dabiq, which is supposed to precede the apocalypse.

Anybody who opposes, disobeys, or resents the law of the self-appointed Caliphate is a potential victim. Gays, Christians, women, Jews, free thinkers, and any Muslims who doesn’t accept the Caliph as their sovereign, can all legally be killed under their law. There is no room for negotiation. 

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ISIS: what is the real threat?

 

There are three threats arising from the conflagration in Syria and the surrounding region.

Firstly there is the indirect threat of ISIS’ operations in the Middle East and other parts of North Africa. Indirect because they are not about to invade Europe. The implications of its activities are the local destabilisation and destruction and the translocal movement of vast numbers of refugees. Aerial bombardments are having limited effect and, even if eventually effective, will result in a political vacuum which will be filled – as many commentators have already outlined – with ISIS mark 2 or further instability as the other warring factions compete for territory and power.

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UN Security Council resolution 2249 – historic moment of international unity

As a party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Liberal Party before it, have always been very strong supporters of the United Nations. The 1951 Liberal Party manifesto (admittedly not one which met with unalloyed electoral acclaim) stated in a section entitled “World peace through law”:

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What do you think about the drone attacks killing UK citizens in Syria?

I have to say that when I heard that David Cameron had authorised drone strikes on two UK citizens who had joined ISIS in Syria I felt very uneasy. I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever with the men in question. I do care about due process and about the reputation of this country, though. I’m not convinced that what appears to be summary execution for actions that took place 3 and 4 months ago counts as “self defence.”

There didn’t seem to be much doubt that the men were up to no good:

The prime minister indicated that the UK and the US strikes followed intelligence that Khan and Hussain were plotting to attack “high-profile public commemorations” in the UK.

It is understood they were the Armed Forces Day event to mark the death of Lee Rigby, which was held in Woolwich on 27 June, and the VE Day commemorations presided over by the Queen in London in May.

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Diplomacy, not bombs will defeat ISIS. The west is being sucked into a sectarian conflict

So, David Cameron, like Tony Blair before him, pledges to help the US in the Middle East. We know that that sort of intervention is unlikely to end well. It would also be unlikely that the UN would ever agree to sanction any military action. Russia and China would just block it. So the option would be to have another Iraq, without properly defined objectives and potentially make a horrendous situation even worse.

I don’t always agree with Paddy, but he’s always my first port of call on foreign affairs. He’s been writing for the Independent about what should happen next and what is the best way to tackle the growing ISIS problem. And if you are under any illusion about life under ISIS, have a look at how they treat women and gay people.

Paddy reckons we’ve been too careless, too quick to grab the guns instead of quietly building international coalitions to tackle the major problems faced in the region.

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Opinion: Should we bomb ISIS positions in Syria?

 

Thursday’s news reported Michael Fallon’s statement to the House of Commons raising the possibility of another Commons vote on bombing Syria. Friday’s zoomed in on the one minute of silence to honour the victims of the shooting in Tunisia.

Quite how bombing ISIS positions in Syria would prevent a gunman doing crazy things near the other end of the Mediterranean is not quite so clear. Announcing this just before a public marking of the deaths sounds like a plea for revenge.

Later on Thursday Radio 4 interviewed two Conservative MPs about the possibility of bombing Syria, one who voted for this and one who voted against in 2013 — overlooking the idea that the proposal now is to bomb the positions of ISIS, who oppose President Assad’s regime.

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Opinion: Struggling with a personal response to ISIS

Independent thinking comes down to trusting your own capacity for an original, personal opinion. For me, it is worth struggling with ourselves when it comes to important subject matter. This is so that solutions have a chance to springing from a place of authenticity and purpose. For me, this is an essential part of offering a responsible perspective and is quintessential liberal.

This video is of ISIS fighters destroying ancient relics. Artifacts that were housed in Iraq’s Mosul Museum. My initial response would have been similar to most people I’d imagine; shock, abhorrence, alarm and repulsion. There is violence in this reaction. But it was a violence that feels as if deliberately enticed by what I was watching.

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A couple of thoughts about the proposed counter-terrorism legislation

I’ve got to be honest, I can’t share Malcolm Bruce’s cautious optimism about the Government’s proposed counter-terrorism measures. Denying our own citizens the right to come back to our country without much mention of testing the evidence against them seems pretty drastic to me. When you consider that it’s likely that some of that evidence is likely to be held in secret and therefore not challengeable by the accused person. We could have situations where young muslim men are denied the right to travel or to return to this country unfairly.

Malcolm says that nobody will be made stateless – but what are they supposed to do with themselves for a couple of years. I suspect there may well be young people who go over there and are so sickened by what they see that they have seen that they want to get back to their family. Being with their family may well be the best place for them.

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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.

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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.

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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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    "Indian subcontinent* ancestry"
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