As the image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed up on a beach is still being shared, Government ministers are to begin making the case for extending RAF air strikes from Iraq to Syria.
The Prime Minister will also lay out plans to re-settle thousands of refugees fleeing the civil war; however, David Cameron has been adamant Britain will not join a proposed EU scheme to redistribute some 160,000 people among the member states.
Chancellor George Osborne, though, says allowing refugees into the country – thought to be anywhere up to 10,000 people – could only be one element in a wider plan to address the refugee crisis, with Britain joining the United States and other allies in attacking Islamic State (IS) in their heartlands inside Syria – as well as tackling the the “evil” regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Some Twitter users don’t think this would be the right tactic though, if the hashtag #DontBombSyria trending consistently on Monday means anything. Here’s why.
1. Because Syria has already seen enough bombing
Next March will mark the fifth year of Syria’s civil war, and so far bombs have done nothing to help its people.
It’s been over a year since the US started bombing IS in Syria and Iraq, and are IS any weaker than they were before? Buzzfeed reports that more civilians are dying as a direct result of the US-led campaign than is being admitted – why would that be any different if the UK were to extend its campaign from Iraq to Syria?
2. Because people will flee regardless of who is dropping the bombs
Does a mother decide to leave her home behind only when the bombs attacking her home are being fired by President Assad or IS? Her children’s lives are at risk whether dropped by an RAF plane trying to help or by a hostile government.
3. Because we’ve tried fixing things with bombs before
In fact, it might well be the only thing we’ve consistently tried. In Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill explains how at the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the US military had a shortlist of names officially recognised as a “kill list”. But that list has continued to grow the more bombs are dropped from drones and planes. Why? Because bombing people makes them angry. Killing people’s relatives radicalises them, and in turn makes them another name to add to your “kill list”.
How can IS be defeated by carrying out their propaganda for them?
4. And it’s not as though there aren’t other things we can try
Like, maybe, stop flooding the Middle East with weapons? After the ousting of President Gaddafi from Libya, the country is effectively without law. Still, that didn’t stop the UK from selling £54.6 million worth of arms to the country in 2013.
So what? How do we know these weapons have ended up in Syria? OK, then maybe the US could stop arming rebel groups in Syria, where the BBC reports that the CIA has had an important behind-the-scenes role co-ordinating arms shipments to the rebels by US allies, since 2012.
On top of that, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been leading the way with financial and military support for the rebels. Many of the rebel groups are not deemed “extremist”, but Western officials previously raised concerns that weapons were finding their way into the hands of al Qaida and other Islamist affiliated groups.
5. Because a lot of people who support military intervention don’t even know where Syria is
This may seem like a secondary issue, but if you can’t even point out a place on a map how can you be expected to understand the many different factors in play in the country? Syria’s civil war is not as simple as government against rebel, there are many competing forces backed by many different countries in the region.
6. Because a war can’t continue without weapons and ammo
7. Because some people stand to profit from it
War is profitable, it wouldn’t happen so much if it wasn’t. Genie Energy has started exploring the Golan Heights for oil and gas since the war in Syria broke out.
And, as always, private contractors stand to make a lot from the war.
8. Because the sooner the war stops, the sooner the Syrian people can return home
Contrary to some of the rhetoric surrounding refugees, these people really would rather not risk their lives to get to Europe. “Just stop the war” may sound overly simplistic, but one thing you can guarantee that won’t stop the war is dropping more bombs.