Simon Reevell's Notes From Westminster

Issue 648

History shows us that there can be such a thing as a ‘just war’ in Iraq.

Not, of course, Mr Blair’s unlawful enterprise in 2003 but its predecessor in 1991. Then 34 nations including our own but also including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab emirates set about and defeated the Iraqi army that had invaded and occupied Kuwait, bringing with it a regime of torture, murder and rape.

It is a clear example of how the West and the countries of the Middle East can come together to defeat something that is abhorrent to any right-minded individual regardless of colour, religion or race.

Now, twenty-three years later that same part of the world faces another invading army. This time not from an established sovereign state but instead from a group seeking to establish a state of its own.

Following the brutal murder this week of the US journalist James Foley the organisation calling itself ‘Islamic State’ is now known to most of us.

As is the fact that the murderer is likely to be from the UK.

As the killer spoke in the video he ‘explained’ that because ‘Islamic State’ had received messages of support from Muslims from all over the world any attack on ‘Islamic State’ was an attack on all Muslims.

In that context, he said, the brutal murder of Mr Foley was in response to American air strikes on ‘Islamic State’ fighters.

That is, of course, ridiculous. The vast majority of people of all faiths and none found the beheading of Mr Foley an abhorrent act of cruel murder and in no way support a group of butchers who would seek to establish a medieval state in the desert.

But as ‘Islamic State’ seek to use social media to recruit misguided young men from the UK to join their evil enterprise, it is important that condemnation of it rings loud and clear.

And especially from within the communities where they seek to recruit.

I have no doubt that the form of Islam promoted by ‘Islamic State’ is a cruel and twisted misrepresentation of the fundamentals of that faith.

But I recognise that, coming from a Christian, this analysis may not dissuade the potential recruit.

What might is an unequivocal chorus of “Not in my name” from Muslim friends, scholars and leading figures in public life in the UK and beyond.

Now is the perfect time for loud and bold condemnation of ‘Islamic State’ from those of the faith from whom it pretends to enjoy widespread support both here and abroad.

But whilst that may reduce the flow of recruits, it does not deal with those from all over the world who are already in northern Iraq.

After Mr Foley’s murder the Americans are likely to make their displeasure felt using some of the most lethal weaponry on the planet.

And they should. Anyone who remembers that July day in London in 2005 knows that what seems like trouble far away can soon be trouble next door.

Britain is already involved having helped to provide aid for the 40,000 men, women and children that ‘Islamic State’ drove out of their homes and left to die on a mountain side.

We are also providing intelligence to assist the US. We will not deploy troops; we may drop bombs.

But others must realise that this is also their fight. It is the governments of those countries who are geographically far closer to ‘Islamic State’ and who have a modern air force (sometimes flying the same aircraft as the USAF or the RAF) and who met the challenge of military operations in 1991 that must also now show their determination and that of their citizens to stop and then to destroy this menace.

With best wishes,

Simon

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