MPs vote today on airstrikes in Syria
Following a 10 hour debate MPs will decide later today whether to back UK airstrikes in Syria against militants from the so-called Islamic State.
We want to remind all of you that this action will result in further deaths of innocent men, women and children. From all available evidence it will do little to deter ISIS without a coordinated ground offensive. It is more likely to increase support for ISIS and resentment against the UK. This may subsequently increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks on UK soil.
A hidden geopolitical agenda
We are not saying: don’t bomb Syria and everything will be fine. The elephant in the room is energy security. The reason for the political quagmire, stalemate and utter destruction in Syria is a conflict of interests between larger powers. Central to the conflict is a rivalry over gas pipelines. NATO and Saudi Arabia along with other gulf states want to build a pipeline that runs from Qatar to Turkey. Iran and Russia (allied with Assad) want to build a pipeline that runs from Iran to the Syrian coast. Both pipelines must run through Syria.
The stakes of this geopolitical game include control over the flow of gas to European nations that are largely dependent on Russian gas. The Qatar-Turkey pipeline has the potential to curb Russia’s dominance and put more control in the hands of NATO. The Iran-Syria pipeline prevents NATO from competing with Russia though Iran would be taking more control. Russia is bending over backwards to keep Iran on side as long as Iran and NATO remain antagonistic towards one another.
UK interests (individually and as part of NATO) lie in divesting from Russian gas as much as possible. Domestically having just scrapped many coal power stations we are increasingly dependent on gas for our electricity and heating. Without a steady guaranteed supply the country would collapse. We lack sufficient infrastructure for holding more than 15 days worth of gas reserves compared to Holland’s capacity for up to 1 year’s supply.
With the depletion of North Sea fields our gas comes increasingly from foreign sources (over 50% at present going up to 69% by 2019). The majority of this comes from European pipelines that depend on Russian gas for ‘top ups’ to keep a constant supply. Though we claim not to be dependent on Russia for gas as we do not purchase it directly from Gazprom we could potentially suffer domestic shortages if Russia were to switch off the supply to Europe. Our NATO allies in Europe would most certainly suffer shortages. With tensions rising between NATO and Russia there have been many threats to cut off the gas – it is becoming a ransom situation.
The real ‘terrorist sympathisers’
The fact that energy security is conspicuously absent from the dialogue around the proposed airstrikes in Syria makes it the elephant in the room just as oil was during our involvement in Iraq. The proposal smacks of desperation to oblige NATO. It lacks a long term strategy to contend with the conflict of interests over control of gas pipeline projects. David Cameron’s rhetoric implying that anyone opposed to the airstrikes in Syria is a ‘terrorist sympathiser’ is not only untrue but hypocritical. The actions of NATO enabled the rise of ISIS in the first place and NATO’s continued political incompetence affords ISIS every opportunity to grow through exploiting the turmoil. If anyone is a terrorist sympathiser it is the incumbent powers and their predecessors who helped create this situation in the name of energy security.
What is called for here is an unprecedented unilateral effort on the part of NATO to reconcile with Iran and Russia over Syria. This could result in both a full scale coordinated effort to remove ISIS and a peaceful, democratically elected regime change in Syria. Restoring the civilian life of Syria thereby allowing refugees to return home to safety ought to be the foremost priority.
If you have any reason to contest this assessment we strongly encourage you to do the research and let us know what you find.
Today we urge all fellow UK citizens to take action and speak out by all available means. Bombard inboxes, phones and twitter, stand outside the House of Commons, anything you can to let our MPs know that we do not want more innocent lives to be lost without just cause in our name. Urge them to vote no to airstrikes in Syria and come up with a better plan.