Category Archives: #Obama

Community Leaders and MPs need to be hold to account over religious extremism

Some people identity which community they belong to and try to engage, problems arises when they question so called community leader(s) who do they really represent community vs themselves or their organisation which open can of worms for political debates. Unfortunately this is just a tip of the iceberg which community leaders and elective representatives continually fail to address on a large scale as many have forgotten to hold their elected members and community leaders to account.

Recently we have read in the press, social media and television we have also seen an ever increase of Middle East situation with no ending to it. I came across two recent articles one of a wannabe prospective candidate from one of the main political parties what the candidate trying to address Jihadist issue. And another who was born during the Taliban war and escaped. Unfortunately both have failed to address the key concerns of all communities that have a Muslim population so the issue then becomes much wider than just mentioning one sector of society. We all have our part to do in society by not pandering to some so called sound bites.

me in my heydaysAs painful as it is most Jihadist or fundamentalist groups have taken to social media to both promote and recruit their brand of brainwashing ideology which is very worrying not just to the government but to the wider communities at large as nobody wants to see or learn that their son or daughter taking up arms in the name of religion in any faith based organisation(s). Some people may now become defensive by now. I say to them it’s a reactionary action which is human nature which the Far Right would lavish by rubbing their gabby hands and say we are listening to what you are saying. I concur that extremism has to be addressed and I welcome the UN resolution to deal with ISIS but unfortunately it does not go far enough to address extremism in the wider context with all religious groups.

The questions then become how the 17 nationals’ addresses this issue which alleges 17 different nations counter the extremist group in the wider context as there are some suggestions of taking their passports away from them, stopping the funding at source, supporting the Assad regime to help stop extremism. All countries that identified their nationals’ involvement of joining the jihadist groups should be involved to help prevent terrorist and not just two countries viz USA and UK. Let not forget the problem of the Middle East by sending in troops and decides that it was time to leave as their budget could not continue to sustain the effort owing to cut back in defence budget to be frank with all this is and has always been about the short term with no plans of the long term solution but to gain a quick bucks to gain control of black gold and to sell arms to the leaders of the countries who face terrorism.

Some countries would strongly argue that we helped to make a difference by training the countries arm forces and improved the situation and offered advice. Well I say to US & UK governments to wake up and smell the coffee as it has not improved the situation as the extremists group just went underground then gave their instructions to their foot soldiers then disappear and abide their time  until the foreign troops left  only to see them resurface again with a rebrand.

Some time ago I recall speaking to a very close friend of mine Rohullah Yakobi was born in war and escaped the Taliban. He is a political activist with a difference as we spoke of the time when I visited Afghanistan Buddhist Statues  and the Afghanistan Buddhism history whilst we were in heavy discussion over lunch he mentioned about a recurring situation which he reminded me of :

On August 8, 1998, Taliban forces, with the help of Pakistani and Arab fighters, captured the city of Mazar-i Sharif in northern Afghanistan. What happened next was described by Human Rights Watch as a “killing frenzy”.

Their main target was the Hazara community, who had fiercely resisted the Taliban’s advances. Tajiks and Uzbeks were persecuted too. Within days, thousands of dead bodies piled up in the streets. Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, the new governor of the province, had given the people of Mazar-i Sharif a merciless ultimatum: convert to Sunni Islam, leave Afghanistan, or face death.

An old proverb says: “Koho mardumon mo ya” (mountains are our people) — thousands of Hazaras had survived taking refuge in the mountains and remote valleys. The current tragedy of Iraq’s Yazidi and Christian communities is a déjà-vu of what the Hazaras have experienced in Afghanistan.

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State is similar to Mullah Omar’s Islamic Emirates. The former calls himself the Caliph; the latter Amir-ul-Moemineen (commander of the faithful). Both want to create a state based on literal interpretations of the Quran and the Hadith.

We in the West are horrified by IS’s atrocities. We are appalled by IS’s destruction of cultural, religious and historical sites in Iraq and Syria: the Taliban have been there, done it, and continue to do so. They destroyed most of what was left in Kabul’s once rich museum. When they captured the historical city of Bamiyan, they detonated the two giant statues of Buddha. They again massacred the local Hazaras.

The Taliban were the consequence of chaos and bloodshed ensued after the West abandoned Afghanistan following the defeat of the Soviets. We made a fundamental mistake with the decision to let the country rot in its own miseries; a strategic error that is haunting us until the present day.

The Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, was not so much a threat to the West as an entity. However, they had turned Afghanistan into a failed and rogue state. They had given sanctuary and training facilities to Osama Bin Laden and his fellow Al-Qaeda terrorists. Al-Qaeda used Afghanistan as its home base and it was there where their deadly attacks were planned. After 9/11, the US demanded the handover of Osama Bin Laden and the deportation of his followers. Mullah Omar refused. Had he accepted, the Taliban might still be in power.

Until Al-Qaida hit the twin towers, there was not much interest in the Taliban’s affairs. Only few knew about the motives of the group, let alone the ideology behind it. We only acted when it was already too late and looked away when the Hazaras, the Tajiks and the Uzbeks were massacred.

The Islamic State’s motives are clear. They want to create a universal Islamic Caliphate and have become a cohesive, committed and efficient force. They have successfully recruited thousands from the West – Australians, Germans, Brits and many others. These foreign fighters pose a fundamental threat to our national security and have been described by the intelligence community and terrorism experts as the single greatest danger since the 9/11 attacks. Whilst the Taliban did not have the intentions of attacking the West themselves and focused on committing brutal atrocities at home, Al-Baghdadi’s men can and, if left to their own accord, will attack the West and their interests. This should alarm the policymakers and force them to action.

We have a moral obligation to protect the defenceless and innocent people being persecuted and slaughtered not just because of our liberal-humanitarian values, but because we can. We also have to act against the Islamic State, Al-Baghdadi and his mad men for the sake of our national security. The Taliban barbarism and threats were ignored and we continue to pay blood and treasure as a consequence. The Islamic State is far more dangerous. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past: they have to be confronted, defeated and completely eradicated.

After we finished lunch I left with a sense of feeling that the so called Community, faith Leaders and members of parliament of all sides of all faiths as painful as it is have to address all forms of religious extremism. Educating our children to not be radicalised is one thing but parent(s) also need to take responsibility to educate with equal balance and not to be one sided of the debate with their own agenda and prejudices that has in-breaded by their fore parents.

My thoughts of children suffering in Gaza and Isreal conflict

1) Saturday 19 July a March and rally took place in London, Glasgow, Sheffield,   and some parts of the world like New York, Berlin, Paris, Soul, Johannesburg, Brussels, Jakarta, Athens, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver,   protesting against the disproportion of bombing of in Gaza and lack of food, medical aid arriving into Palestine whilst children who are the ones who suffer the most in this conflict. I’d like to know where the peace negotiators are in the middle east. Horrific scenes on TV & social media. Innocent children being killed. Heartbreaking what humans can do to each other. Conflict should be avoided and communication should be increased.

2) For the sake of humanity its important Israel is not let of the hook, while focus is on the shooting down of the plane in the Ukraine. What happened on that plane is sickening and vile and Russia has many questions to answer.

demo3) However the slaughter happening in Gaza should not be overshadowed either. Israel has become a rogue state itself. They have lost all credibility and care little to nothing for international law. The deaths of civilians cannot be excused and the way the Israel Army is using attack jets and tanks against civilian areas shows they are out of control.

4) Israel causes its own problems by keeping the Palestinian people poor, denying them they ability to be their own state, building on land they stole and having little regard for human rights. Palestinians have no army, navy or air force they have however extremist who only grow stronger because of Israel actions. Because of the Israel hostility the moderate politicians lost ground. Yet while no missiles should ever be fired into Palestine I doubt the world has failed to notice that one person has died on the Israel side. Yet 310 Palestinians have been killed. From the images appearing on social media what is more than clear is that they are civilians not Hamas.

photo-15) It’s time Israel was treated with the disrespect it deserved and sanctions were placed on them to stop their violence.

6) The alleged terrorist attack in the Ukraine is a tragedy, and I pray that all those martyed are blessed with a place in paradise. I agree with our PM David Cameron that sanctions against Russia for their complicity in the atrocity are necessary.

7) But what about the refusal of Israel for their indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and for breaking more UN resolutions than any other country. Why is the PM not calling for sanctions against Israel. Why is the PM, and other world leaders ignoring the plight of the Palestinians. Why are they turning a blind eye to the injustice, and the killing of children.

8) At last the UN is calling for an immediate ceasfire. But the cynic side me thinks that there is an ulterior motive behind it but I could be wrong. Is it anything to do with the fact that 13 Israeli soldiers were killed yesterday? If it is what about the first 13 Palestinians that were killed when the violence broke? Why did the UN not call for an immediate ceasfire then? It is clear that in the eyes of the UN the life of a Palestinian is worth less than an Israel soldier. The UN has proved time and time again it is a tool of the USA exploited for their own purposes!

9) It is a real shame that the Muslim countries some of whom spend the majority of their public finances on weapons have not come to the aid of the Palestinians. Do you think Israel would continue their attacks if Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, or Turkey threatened to intervene?

Benjamin-Netanyahu-Israel-Ban-Ki-Moon10) Unfortunately there seems to be more unity amongst the apes in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes than Muslim countries. Caesar got it right in the Rise of the Planet of the Apes when he described to his peers that one stick breaks easy but a bunch of sticks is a lot harder to break. I hope that the Muslim leaders watch the film so they might learn a lesson from the apes!

11) Many Jews speak out against what Israel is doing. We have to make sure this doesn’t become a platform for those with anti-Semitic views. At the same time there are those who accuse the critics of Israel as being anti-Semitic. Religion has to be taken out of the conflict; the Israeli state is no more a Jewish state than Britain is any more a Christian state. A Zionist yes but we have to be clear that Zionism is not Judaism. Israel now exists, there is no rolling back the clock and undoing that and the rest of the region will have to accept that. On the other hand Israel has to accept that there is a Palestinian state which has its own borders which Israel has no right to be in, she has to end all the occupations, the wall has to come down and the people of Israel have to treat people of other faiths and races with respect. Christians as well as Muslims suffer in Palestine. I get that Hamas are firing rockets into Israel but they are nothing compared to the destruction and death Israel is bringing to Palestinians. As long as Israel keeps retaliating in this way, as long as she keeps starving the Palestinian people by destroying their crops and trees and diverting water away from Palestine then there can never be peace. Israel is the stronger country both military and financially and has to be the ones to make the first move however painful that may be.

12) Tanks and military units penetrated deeper into Gaza on Friday as the Israel Defence Forces’ ground offensive entered its second day. At least 20 people died and many more were injured as intensive tank fire across eastern Gaza ravaged buildings and led to mass civilian casualties in the area.

13) The latest figures reported by health officials in Gaza, now estimate the total number of dead to be 316, a rise more than 60 since the offensive first began. IDF reports say that “40 Hamas terrorists” have been killed during the operation so far, with many of the underground tunnels used by the group destroyed. Three Israeli soldiers were injured, including one seriously, in a gun battle in northern Gaza; while one more was injured after being caught by sniper fire on Saturday morning.

14) With the number of people to die as a result of conflict in Gaza now topping 300, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon is set to travel to the region today in a bid to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas. Following an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council last night, a UN spokesman said that the UN chief was travelling to the region to meet with officials from both sides to secure a “lasting resolution” between both sides.

15) With the number of people to die as a result of conflict in Gaza now topping 300, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon is set to travel to the region in a bid to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas. Following an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council last night a UN spokesman said that the UN chief was travelling to the region to meet with officials from both sides to secure a “lasting resolution”.

16) Palestinians are fed up with words they want to see action from the UN and not tokenism because they (UN) do not want to rock the boat. Let’s not forget this war has been going on for a very long-time which dates back to 1967 to the present time. As ever, the dominant narrative being presented to us on the current conflict in Gaza is that Israel is defending itself and its civilians against unprovoked rocket attacks by terrorists. And as ever, it is the same narrative being pushed in Washington and London, as like a well-rehearsed play the actors involved perform their respective roles with the same old aplomb.

17) It is the same narrative we have been subjected to over countless years, one intended to paint Israel, that democratic outpost of Western civilisation surrounded by barbarian hordes intent on its destruction, as perennial victim. But as in the past so as now, it is a lie. The truth is the current conflict has little if anything to do with Hamas or its rockets. It does however have everything to do with the state of Israel’s decades-long policy of occupation, embargo, siege, collective punishment, expropriation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. 

18) Israel’s war is not with Hamas but with the Palestinian people in their entirety, both the 1.5 million in Gaza and the three million in the West Bank. It is a war waged every hour of every day there is occupation, checkpoints, and settlements. It is a war waged every hour of every day there is an economic embargo, siege, and collective punishment. It is a war being waged every second of the indignity and humiliation suffered by its victims.

19) Yet despite the irrefutable facts of Israel’s barbaric treatment of a people criminalised for daring to exist, we are treated to a constant inversion of the truth, which holds that the many and multiple depredations being suffered by the Palestinians do not amount to one of the most sustained and grievous crimes against humanity in history, but are the result of their intransigence and violence. 

20) This is the song of colonialism. The victims always bring it on themselves. If only they would learn to bear their chains in silence. As Golda Meir said, “We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.” And they are killing them, right now, while the world looks on again. Worse, when we consider that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people constitutes a clear and unarguable breach of international law, and has done for decades, the Western media’s continuing policy of ascribing a moral equivalence between Israel an oppressive settler colonial state, and the Palestinians an oppressed colonised and besieged people, monumental insult is added to monstrous injury. There is no moral equivalence. Nor could there ever be one.

21) A concerted attempt is underway to break an attempt at unity between Fatah and Hamas, after the Netanyahu government incited and whipped up hatred against the Palestinians over the recent abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers after they left an illegal settlement near Hebron to hitchhike back to Israel proper. 

22) Their deaths have been exploited to prosecute an agenda of keeping the Palestinians divided. It won’t work. Oppression does not divide it unites its victims and Israel deludes itself if it believes it can break a people whose will to resist has proved unbreakable time and again. That said, resistance is not a game nor is it romantic or glorious. The trauma being suffered by children, old people, and everyone forced to live under the shells and missiles being rained down on them will be unimaginable. The fear as the tanks gather at Gaza’s border and the troops prepare to invade will be immeasurable.

23) The bombing of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish civil war by nazi bombers on behalf of General Franco’s fascist forces has endured as a symbol of barbarism, when innocent civilians for the first time in western Europe were attacked by the military might of an advanced industrialised nation. A reproduction of Picasso’s famous painting of this war crime hangs pride of place within UN headquarters in New York to this day.

24) How ironic then that the same UN demonstrates nothing but impotence in the face of Israel’s bombing of Gaza, which at time of writing has killed close to 200 people and injured hundreds more, the vast majority civilians and many of them children. There is no point in deluding ourselves that anything approaching a resolution is anywhere in sight, not with a supine administration in Washington which could end this barbarity with one phone call. 

25) All we can say with certainty at this moment is that incinerating Palestinian children in the name of civilisation and democracy renders both meaningless.

26) please sign the petition to end the killings in Palestine

UK has No mandate for military intervention Syria

Please feel free to watch this very important message to the nation:

photo[2]Why voters are not surprised with the announcement of the words “Chemical Weapons” the war mongering countries start to go into overdrive. Remember the words Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) from a Labour Government now it has come to blows a Coalition Government has decided to put on their war paint already. How ironic that USA takes UK for granted. UK parliament voted and the people’s power who won the day on Thursday 22 August 2013 parliament voted against the wishes of the government and sided with the voters. Hence UK will no longer take part in the intervention in Syria as both Coalition and Labour amendment motions were defeated which has done a lot of damage to Cameron’s leadership to the world and his own party which leads the pathway clear for Theresa May to formally challenge David Cameron‘s leadership in the Conservative Party.

I enclosed a full list of MPs who voted against the Coalition motion:

Three Conservative government ministers missed the vote and have apologised to Prime Minister David Cameron for their absence.

Below is a full list of the MPs who voted against the government motion authorising the possible use of military force against Syria. The motion was defeated by 285 votes to 272.

Alliance Party (1) Naomi Long.

Conservatives (30) David Amess, Steve Baker, Richard Bacon, John Baron, Andrew Bingham, Crispin Blunt, Fiona Bruce, Tracey Crouch, David TC Davies, Philip Davies, David Davis, Nick de Bois, Richard Drax, Gordon Henderson, Philip Hollobone, Adam Holloway, Dr Phillip Lee, Dr Julian Lewis, Tim Loughton, Jason McCartney, Nigel Mills, Anne Marie Morris, Andrew Percy, Sir Richard Shepherd, Sir Peter Tapsell, Andrew Turner, Martin Vickers, Charles Walker, Chris White, Dr Sarah Wollaston.

Green Party (1) Caroline Lucas.

Labour (224) Diane Abbott, Debbie Abrahams, Bob Ainsworth, Douglas Alexander, Heidi Alexander, Rushanara Ali, Graham Allen, David Anderson, Jonathan Ashworth, Adrian Bailey, William Bain, Ed Balls, Gordon Banks, Kevin Barron, Hugh Bayley, Margaret Beckett, Anne Begg, Hilary Benn, Joe Benton, Luciana Berger, Clive Betts, Gordon Birtwistle, Tom Blenkinsop, David Blunkett, Kevin Brennan, Lyn Brown, Nicholas Brown, Russell Brown, Chris Bryant, Karen Buck, Andy Burnham, Liam Byrne, Alan Campbell, Ronnie Campbell, Martin Caton, Jenny Chapman, Katy Clark, Tom Clarke, Vernon Coaker, Ann Coffey, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn, Mary Creagh, Stella Creasy, Jon Cruddas, Alex Cunningham, Jim Cunningham, Tony Cunningham, Margaret Curran, Simon Danczuk, Alistair Darling, Wayne David, Gloria De Piero, John Denham, Jim Dobbin, Frank Dobson, Thomas Docherty, Frank Doran, Stephen Doughty, Jim Dowd, Gemma Doyle, Jack Dromey, Michael Dugher, Angela Eagle, Maria Eagle, Clive Efford, Julie Elliott, Louise Ellman, Natascha Engel, Bill Esterson, Chris Evans, Paul Farrelly, Frank Field, Jim Fitzpatrick, Robert Flello, Caroline Flint, Paul Flynn, Hywel Francis, Mike Gapes, Barry Gardiner, Sheila Gilmore, Pat Glass, Mary Glindon, Roger Godsiff, Paul Goggins, Helen Goodman, Tom Greatrex, Kate Green, Nia Griffith, Andrew Gwynne, David Hamilton, Fabian Hamilton, Harriet Harman, Tom Harris, Dai Havard, John Healey, Mark Hendrick, Stephen Hepburn, Meg Hillier, Margaret Hodge, Kate Hoey, Jim Hood, Kelvin Hopkins, George Howarth, Tristram Hunt, HuwIrranca-Davies, Glenda Jackson, Sian James, Cathy Jamieson, Dan Jarvis, Alan Johnson, Graham Jones, Helen Jones, Kevan Jones, Susan Elan Jones, Tessa Jowell, Eric Joyce, Gerald Kaufman, Liz Kendall, Sadiq Khan, David Lammy, Ian Lavery, Mark Lazarowicz, Chris Leslie, Emma Lewell-Buck, Ivan Lewis, Ian Lucas, Fiona Mactaggart, Khalid Mahmood, ShabanaMahmood, SeemaMalhotra, John Mann, Gordon Marsden, Steve McCabe, Michael McCann, Kerry McCarthy, Gregg McClymont, Andy McDonald, John McDonnell, Pat McFadden, Alison McGovern, Jim McGovern, Anne McGuire, Ann McKechin, Iain McKenzie, Catherine McKinnell, Michael Meacher, Alan Meale, Edward Miliband, Andrew Miller, Madeleine Moon, Jessica Morden, Graeme Morrice, Grahame M. Morris, George Mudie, Jim Murphy, Paul Murphy, Ian Murray, Lisa Nandy, Pamela Nash, Fiona O’Donnell, Chi Onwurah, Sandra Osborne, Albert Owen, Teresa Pearce, Toby Perkins, Bridget Phillipson, Stephen Pound, Lucy Powell, Nick Raynsford, Jamie Reed, Steve Reed, Rachel Reeves, Jonathan Reynolds, Linda Riordan, John Robertson, Geoffrey Robinson, Steve Rotheram, Frank Roy, Lindsay Roy, Chris Ruane, Joan Ruddock, AnasSarwar, Andy Sawford, Alison Seabeck, Virenda Sharman, Barry Sheerman, Jim Sheridan, Gavin Shuker, Dennis Skinner, Andy Slaughter, Andrew Smith, Nick Smith, Owen Smith, Jack Straw, Graham Stringer, Gisela Stuart, Gerry Sutcliffe, Mark Tami, Gareth Thomas, Emily Thornberry, Stephen Timms, Jon Trickett, Derek Twigg, Stephen Twigg, ChukaUmunna, Keith Vaz, Valerie Vaz, Joan Walley, Tom Watson, Dave Watts, Dr Alan Whitehead, Chris Williamson, Phil Wilson, David Winnick, Rosie Winteron, Mike Wood, David Wright, Iain Wright MP.

DUP (6) Gregory Campbell, Nigel Dodds, Jeffrey Donaldson, Brian Donohoe, Jim Shannon, Sammy Wilson.

Independent (1) Lady Hermon.

Liberal Democrats (9) Paul Burstow, Mike Crockart, Andrew George, Mike Hancock, Julian Huppert, Dan Rogerson, Andrew Stunell, Ian Swales, Sarah Teather, Roger Williams.

Plaid Cymru Jonathan Edwards, ElfynLlwyd, Hywel Williams.

Respect (1) George Galloway.

SDLP (3) Mark Durkan, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, Margaret Ritchie.

SNP (6) Stewart Hosie, Angus MacNeil, Angus Robertson, Mike Weir, Dr EilidhWhiteford, Pete Wishart.

British Prime Minister Tony BlairHow intriguingly after Tony Blair stepped down as leader of Labour Party he still shouting louder to invade Syria. Many people went on 4 marches against the war in Iraq, and Afghanistan.  What the coalition has not informed us all is that it is a can of worms waiting to happen. Congratulations  Ed Miliband has finally come to his senses to realise that the UN inspectors will need to time to assess their finding and report back to the various committees then for it to translated into action which the British public has been saying all along which many party activist and Labour supporters have said all along

Ed-Miliband-gestures-duri-001Here is what Ed Miliband said in full:

Ed Miliband has raised the stakes before Thursday’s Commons vote on military strikes against the Assad regime by announcing that Labour is to table its own amendment. Which were:

If we are to ask yet more of the most exceptional of our country’s men and women those in our forces it must be on the basis of a decision that has complete moral authority.

Here are the five steps we must take before coming to such a decision:

1) We must let the UN weapons inspectors do their work and report to the UN Security Council;

2) There must be compelling and internationally-recognised evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attacks;

3) The UN Security Council should debate and vote on the weapons inspectors’ findings and other evidence. This is the highest forum of the world’s most important multilateral body and we must take it seriously;

4) There should be a clear legal basis in international law for taking military action to protect the Syrian people;

5) Any military action must be time limited, it must have precise and achievable objectives and it must have regard for the consequences of the future impact on the region.

In a series of tweets the Labour leader said that parliament must “not write a blank cheque” and David Cameron must report back to MPs after the UN weapons inspectors have reported from Syria.

“Parliament must tomorrow agree criteria for action, not write a blank cheque,” the Labour leader tweeted.

AV-Ed-miliband_1861389iIn his first tweet, he said: “Labour will table our own amendment on Syria in the Commons tomorrow.” In his second tweet he said: “Our amendment will insist the Prime Minister must return to the Commons after the UN weapons inspectors have reported.”

The intervention by Miliband, who told the prime minister late on Tuesday night that Britain should take the Syrian crisis to the UN security council, shows the significance of the call from Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, for inspectors in Damascus to be given more time. Britain has praised the work of the inspectors but says it will not be bound by them.

Miliband’s move, which suggests Labour believes military action should be delayed until the inspectors have reported, means that the coalition potentially faces a tight vote when the debate ends at 10.00pm on Thursday night.

Scores of Tory MPs are raising concerns about the planned military action. They could abstain, or vote against, the government motion. They are unlikely to vote with Labour but could abstain on the Labour amendment. But, crucially, the Labour moves suggest that Miliband will instruct MPs to vote against the government motion. This presents the prime minister with a formidable challenge.

securedownloadHere is the full context of the motion that went to Parliament on Thursday 29 August 2013:

“This House:

“Deplores the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 by the Assad regime, which caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries of Syrian civilians;

“Recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons under international law;

“Agrees that a strong humanitarian response is required from the international community and that this may, if necessary, require military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on saving lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria’s chemical weapons;

“Notes the failure of the United Nations Security Council over the last two years to take united action in response to the Syrian crisis;

“Notes that the use of chemical weapons is a war crime under customary law and a crime against humanity – and that the principle of humanitarian intervention provides a sound legal basis for taking action;

“Notes the wide international support for such a response, including the statement from the Arab League on 27 August which calls on the international community, represented in the United Nations Security Council, to ‘overcome internal disagreements and take action against those who committed this crime, for which the Syrian regime is responsible’;

“Believes, in spite of the difficulties at the United Nations, that a United Nations process must be followed as far as possible to ensure the maximum legitimacy for any such action;

“Therefore welcomes the work of the United Nations investigating team currently in Damascus. Whilst noting that the team’s mandate is to confirm whether chemical weapons were used and not to apportion blame, agrees that the United Nations Secretary General should ensure a briefing to the United Nations Security Council immediately upon the completion of the team’s initial mission;

“Believes that the United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing and that every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken. Before any direct British involvement in such action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place.

“Notes that this motion relates solely to efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering by deterring use of chemical weapons and does not sanction any action in Syria with wider objectives.”

photo[3]Intriguing US President Barack Obama has said he has not yet decided on a plan for retaliatory action against Syria.

But he said he had concluded Syrian government forces were behind a recent chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

Speaking on US television, Mr Obama said the use of chemical weapons affected US national interests and that sending a “shot across the bows” could have a positive impact on Syria’s war.

His comments follow a day of behind-the-scenes wrangling at the UN.

The UK had been pushing for permanent members of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution which would have authorised measures to protect civilians in Syria.

Damascus seems quieter than on trips I made here earlier this year, though there’s still plenty of traffic in the centre. Its people are awaiting decisions that are being taken elsewhere.

Army roadblocks stop traffic every few miles down the highway in from the Lebanese border, as they have since the war started.

News agencies, quoting residents and some opponents of the Assad regime, have reported that some heavy weaponry has been moved out of bases and staff have partially vacated some headquarters.

It is logical for the Syrian army to have some sort of plan to protect itself from any attack, especially since the progress toward launching a military strike has been discussed so openly by Western powers.

The countries surrounding Syria are bracing themselves for a new crisis. In Beirut, the man who helped me with my bags said the West would do whatever it wanted.

“But please, don’t bomb anywhere near Lebanon. We fear another big war.”

But Syrian ally Russia refused to agree to the resolution and the meeting produced no end to the diplomatic stalemate which has long characterised the UN position on Syria.

The US State Department criticised “Russian intransigence” and said it could not allow diplomatic paralysis to serve as a shield for the Syrian leadership.

Russia is sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the eastern Mediterranean.

The ships are being sent to strengthen the navy’s presence in the area because of the “well-known situation” there, the Russian news agency Interfax has said.

But another news agency, Novosti, quotes a senior naval command spokesman as saying that this is just a planned rotation, unconnected with Syria.

Critics have questioned what purpose a limited strike on Syria could serve, but Mr Obama told the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) it would send the government of Bashar al-Assad “a pretty strong signal that it better not [use chemical weapons] again”.

The US has yet to produce the intelligence it says shows Mr Assad’s government is guilty of using chemical weapons, and UN weapons inspectors are still investigating inside Syria.

The team has just begun a third day of on-site investigations, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for it to be “given time to do its job”. He said the inspectors would finish their investigations and be out of the area by Saturday morning.

Syria denies using chemical weapons and blames opposition fighters for the attack near Damascus on 21 August, which reportedly killed hundreds of people.

It accused the West of “inventing” excuses to launch a strike.

In a sign of growing fears about an impending attack among Syrians, the Associated Press quoted Lebanese officials as saying at least 6,000 Syrians crossed into Lebanon in a 24-hour period through the main Masnaa crossing – compared to a normal daily tally of between 500 and 1,000 refugees.

“Isn’t it enough, all the violence and fighting that we already have in the country, now America wants to bomb us, too?” one 45-year-old woman, entering Lebanon with her five children, told AP.

In Damascus senior military commanders are reportedly staying away from buildings thought likely to be targeted. You “could hear a pin drop” at one of them, a local resident said.

President Obama told PBS that the US had “not yet made a decision, but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place, and hardly anyone disputes that chemical weapons were used in a large scale in Syria against civilian populations”.

“We’ve looked at all the evidence, and we don’t believe the opposition possessed chemical weapons of that sort,” he said.

He added he had concluded that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack.

“There need to be international consequences, so we are consulting with our allies,” he said.

There was “a prospect that chemical weapons could be directed at us – and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen”.

Mr Obama looked cautious and spoke in a measured way, and he was clearly concerned about getting Congress on board as well as the American public.

Opinion polls until now have shown very little interest among the US public in getting involved in the Syrian conflict.

In an open letter to the president, US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner demanded he explain “the intended effect of military strikes”, and how he would prevent the intervention escalating, if he wanted to win public and congressional backing for action.

More than 110 members of Congress have signed a letter formally requesting that Mr Obama seek congressional approval for any action in Syria.

US officials are expected to give senior members of Congress a classified briefing on the evidence that the Syrian government carried out the alleged chemical attack on Thursday.

Models for possible intervention

  • Iraq 1991: US-led global military coalition, anchored in international law; explicit mandate from UN Security Council to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait
  • Balkans 1990s: US arms supplied to anti-Serb resistance in Croatia and Bosnia in defiance of UN-mandated embargo; later US-led air campaign against Serb paramilitaries. In 1999, US jets provided bulk of 38,000 Nato sorties against Serbia to prevent massacres in Kosovo – legally controversial with UN Security Council resolutions linked to “enforcement measures”
  • Somalia 1992-93: UN Security Council authorised creation of international force with aim of facilitating humanitarian supplies as Somali state failed. Gradual US military involvement without clear objective culminated in Black Hawk Down disaster in 1993. US troops pulled out
  • Libya 2011: France and UK sought UN Security Council authorisation for humanitarian operation in Benghazi in 2011. Russia and China abstained but did not veto resolution. Air offensive continued until fall of Gaddafi

The US has said it will not take action alone – but one of its primary allies, the UK, has agreed to wait until UN inspectors report back before taking a parliamentary vote on potential action.

Russia rejected a UK push to try to agree a resolution on Syria among permanent UN Security Council members on Wednesday, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying the UN could not consider any draft resolution or proposed action in Syria before the UN weapons inspectors reported back.

The use of force without a sanction of the UN Security Council would be a “crude violation” of international law and “lead to the long-term destabilisation of the situation in the country and the region”, Mr Lavrov has said.

The UK, US and France are continuing their discussions following the meeting of the five permanent members.

For the UK, there needs to be a UN “moment” – despite the fact that UN action will likely again be blocked by Russia or China.

But even without UN backing the US and its allies have been clear that they see the military option still open to them, our correspondent says.

“This is the first use of chemical warfare in the 21st Century,” said UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. “It has to be unacceptable… or we will confront even bigger war crimes in the future.”

More than 100,000 people are estimated to have died since the conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011, and the conflict has produced at least 1.7 million refugees.



Four More Years Part2(Obama ‘open to compromise’)

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Barack Obama used his first public appearance since his return to the White House to issue a challenge to Republicans in Congress to work with him to prevent the economy going into freefall next year. In a carefully posed statement … Continue reading