Mr Cameron cut short his holiday to formulate a UK response to the growing strength of Islamic State in Syria & Iraq (IS). The video of the beheading of James Foley has been shared online (by some very depraved individuals), and the executioner sounds like he’s from London (UK). The UK/US imperative to intervene in Iraq steps up, pressure for action increases.
Meanwhile in Gaza Israeli missiles continue to rain down on civilians, the borders remain closed, food, water and medical supplies remain very scarce. People continue to be killed and maimed, with nowhere to run they are hemmed in. Like shooting fish in a barrel.
The two situations are intrinsically linked in the minds of westerners joining IS. If the UK Govt wants to stop radicalisation of British people they need to make this link, and therefore change British foreign policy towards Israel.
To help Mr Cameron come to decisions I have a few suggestions:
1) Use the Royal Navy to deliver medical & humanitarian aid to Palestinians by putting the Mediterranean Fleet just off the coast of Gaza.
2) Massive aid contributions, equipment and staffing given to Turkey, Jordan and Iran to help with the Syrian and Iraqi refugees camped on their borders.
3) Build a coalition within the UN Security Council condemning countries funding IS.
- Use the Royal Navy to deliver medical & humanitarian aid to Palestinians by putting the Mediterranean Fleet just off the coast of Gaza.
The Royal Navy is the 5th largest Navy in the world, there are ships currently in the Mediterranean. Further, the UK has Sovereign Base in Cyprus. The Royal Navy succesfully delivered humanitarian aid in The Philippines last year after Typhoon Haiyan.
Of course, Israel has a naval blockade on Gaza, but would they really oppose a humanitarian aid mission by The Royal Navy ? In terms of the relative size and power of the two Navies opposition would be foolish. Further, in terms of global reputation and standing such opposition would only be even more detrimental to Israel’s position.
Use of the RN to deliver medical & humanitarian aid to Gaza is something that the UK Govt. could do immediately. It would be far less dangerous, expensive and strategically demanding than a military intervention in Iraq.
- Massive aid contributions, equipment and staffing given to Turkey, Jordan and Iran to help with the Syrian and Iraqi refugees camped on their borders.
The last intervention in Iraq (2003-2010) cost the UK £9.24bn (according to figures given to McPherson Inquiry), and 179 lives. If the UK spent that money on humanitarian and logistical aid this time there would be a significant impact both on the refugees and in the minds of those watching back in the UK. Rather than spending money on missiles etc the UK Govt could work in a systematic manner with the Govts of Turkey, Iran and Jordan to deliver the worlds biggest aid programme. This would go some way to puncture the anti-western rhetoric of the jihadists.
3. Build a coalition within the UN Security Council condemning countries funding IS.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar are alleged to have been funding IS for a number of years. Their role in bringing calm to the region may not just be described as ineffectual, but could also be termed as detrimental. Continued political allegiance with these countries for financial gain is a false gain. The UK ends up spending more on remedial military action because of the funding streams of these countries than they ever make from financial deals with those countries.
Is it not time that the West had a long hard look at the reality of Saudi Arabia in the context of the values of liberal pluralism which Western Govts love to espouse so loudly ?
So there we have it Mr Cameron, a simple 3 point plan to start to restore the UK’s moral leadership, and to ward off further radicalisation of the UK subjects who are suspicious of current foreign policy. These policy suggestions are neither unrealistic nor overly ideologically unplatable to your government, or the mainstream of the UK population. Neither are they logistically impossible. These are suggestions that the UK Govt has both the ideological breadth and logistical capacity to realise in the short term. The focus on humanitarianism is the only way forward or else we will just return to the cycle of failed states, instability and murder which we are currently stuck in.
Buddha said: hatred does not cease by hate, but only by love.