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In an act which is likely to send shockwaves throughout the Labour Party membership, the Blairites have spoken out in support of bombing Syria… AGAIN!
Clearly they have learned nothing from their previous military interventions in Syria. The conflict, which has been raging since 2011, has already claimed the lives of around 500,000 Syrians and the displacement of more than 10 million – over half of the country’s population.
How will more bombs solve the problem?
But this time the Blairites are not just supporting the Tories, who are themselves reprehensible. They are supporting the racist, sexist, billionaire Donald Trump – a man so reactive and unpredictable that even the Republican establishment blushes whenever he opens his mouth.
What clearer indictment of the Blairites’ political views could there possibly be?
Amongst those supporting Trump’s attack are Hillary Benn, Tom Watson, Michael Dugher, Mary Creagh, Angela Eagle, Wes Streeting, and Stella Creasey.
This is the same crowd who were leading calls to bomb Syria back in December 2015. It is also the same crowd who have been itching to remove their democratically elected socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Illegal attack on Syria
The missile attacks against Syria came in response to allegations that President Bashar al-Assad authorised the use of the nerve agent sarin in an attack on Khan Sheikhun which killed dozens of people. The attack was ordered directly by Trump without seeking a UN mandate, or even a mandate from the US Congress.
That said, Trump’s attack is likely to be illegal.
It is unclear at this stage whether the US air strikes are a show of strength and limited action or if they presage a broader military intervention in Syria.
But what is clear is that very little evidence has been provided which clearly demonstrates that Assad carried out the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhun.
Assad is a brutal dictator prepared to use ruthless means to stay in power. It cannot be discounted, therefore, that he did authorise the use of sarin – although at this stage it would seem counterproductive from his point of view to launch an indiscriminate chemical attack, fully aware that it would a pretext for a possible US-led military attack.
Certainly Assad has carried out atrocities in the past. But without hard evidence to say that the Assad regime was responsible for the death of civilians from chemicals, how can Trump’s missile attacks be justified?
In lieu of evidence, we are expected to take the US government at its word. The same government who lied to their population about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. And the same administration who, just last week, murdered 240 Iraqi civilians, including dozens of children, in Mosul.
Unsurprisingly, the Blairites failed to condemn the US’s attack in Mosul, just as they supported the illegal war in Iraq, and last week’s illegal bombing in Syria.
Anti-Corbyn Labour MPs
Right wing Labour MPs are also using Trump’s attack on Syria as yet another way of undermining Corbyn.
Michael Dugher tweeted:
Stop criticising Corbyn’s slow response: it takes time for Seamas [Milne] to run the draft statement by the Kremlin, Stop the War + the Morning Star.
Amazing how some sections of the left- and right -prefer inaction in Syria to stopping a murderous tyrant and his genocide.
In reality Corbyn’s “slow response” is a consequence of his desire to have all the facts to hand before making decisions.
The wider implications of Trump’s decision to launch missile attacks against the Shayrat air base bear serious consideration before supporting. Tensions between the US, Russia and Iran, and also with North Korea and China, have already been ratcheted up. The decision will also significantly increase rivalries between Sunni and Shia-based regimes in the Middle East.
In a statement issued on Friday, Corbyn said:
The US missile attack on a Syrian government air base risks escalating the war in Syria still further.
Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account.
But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.
What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome.
The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.
The fact that the Blairites have not only supported a military decision which is probably illegal, but have then tried to use it as a way of smearing their democratically elected leader, cannot be ignored. Surely Corbyn must finally bring his MPs into line?
Calls for reselection contests should begin with those who have, once again, spoken in favour of bombing Syria. Hundreds of thousands are already dead. Millions have been misplaced.
Whether or not Corbyn is willing to deal with them, Labour members can help to mount pressure on the Blairites by raising the following model motion at their local Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meetings:
[Name of Labour Party branch] supports Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader as a reflection of the general mood in the Labour Party against austerity.
MPs have not got ‘jobs for life’. They represent their constituency but ultimately they are selected by, and accountable to, their Constituency Labour Party. To ensure democratic accountability and the rights of party members to select candidates that reflect their views, this branch supports the need for mandatory reselection of Labour MPs in each Parliament as essential.
We call on the [name of Labour Party branch] CLP to support a rule change to the Labour Party rulebook to reintroduce mandatory reselection of MPs before each general election.
The stakes are high and time is running out. Labour needs to be transformed into a party fit for the 99%. If the Corbyn project fails, Labour could be cast into the dustbin of history, like PASOK in Greece, PHOE in Spain, Labour in Ireland, the Socialist Party in France. Workers could be forced to look elsewhere for political representation.