Humanitarian Crisis in Northern Iraq

All the journalist attention is focussed on how the United States, and Britain, can relieve the terrible suffering being inflicted on the Yazidi people, and others, by the truly bestial “Islamic State (IS)” terrorists, who are much better organised and therefore much more of a threat to peace and stability than Al Qaeda for instance.

As Stephen Bush has proposed in Britain Revitalised[1], abolishing the Department of International Development (cost in 2013 £10.5 billion) and assigning around £5 billion to the Ministry of Defence for an explicit disaster-relief role, additional to its primary war-fighting responsibility, would exactly meet the needs of humanitarian crises like the present one in Northern Iraq[2].

To hear on the radio girlish voices from the aid agencies talking about getting supplies through marauding bands of IS terrorists, over mountainous terrain, underlines the need for the job to be led by the professional armed forces: the RAF to fly supplies over the affected areas, taking out anti-aircraft batteries and strafing any IS on the ground; Army personnel parachuted in to establish supply reception areas and protect civilian aid workers from the terrorist gangs on the ground[3].

All this begs the question why Turkey, a fellow member of NATO, hasn’t taken the lead in relief operations just across its border in Northern Iraq.  Eastern Turkey actually has a substantial Kurdish minority adjacent to the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous province which is itself fighting the IS terrorists.  To be fair to Turkey, it has its own Kurdish dissident group (the PKK) and it is wary of this group making common cause with the Iraqi Kurds.

Final Thought

If Saddam in Iraq had not been overthrown by the USA and Britain in 2003, and arms not been supplied to the opponents of President Assad in Syria, would these terrible groups – first Al Qaeda, now Islamic State – have ever gained the hold they now have?

End Notes

[1]  Stephen bush (2014) “A Brexit Blueprint – Britain revitalized and Independence Regained”, published Institute of Economic Affairs, London.

[2]  Of the balance of £5.5 billion, £2 billion would go to the Foreign Office to form a new section specifically to support trade-aid, giving publicity and contracts to British companies[1].

[3]  The British government needs also to expedite a law to exempt British armed forces on legally sanctioned missions from the Human Rights Act and the European Convention.

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