People Before Profit TD says Irish government must speak out against further bombing of Syria in response to Paris atrocity

Richard - Copy (2)In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD for the People Before Profit Alliance has called on the Irish government to speak out against further French, Russian and US bombing of Syria in response to last Friday’s atrocity in Paris.

Deputy Boyd Barrett, who condemned as a “barbaric atrocity” and “vile act” the attack by ISIS in Paris, said that further bombing by France and the US in Syria would result in more innocent deaths, escalate the cycle of violence, and fuel support for violent and sectarian extremist groups such as ISIS.

Deputy Boyd Barrett said the best way to prevent further atrocities was to end military intervention by the big powers in the Middle East and Afghanistan and to cease financial and military aid to despotic and oppressive regions in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Iraq and the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

He said it was also vital that any attempt to scape-goat the wider Muslim community for the crimes of a tiny unrepresentative minority must be completely resisted.   

Deputy Boyd Barrett will speak in the Dail at 18.55 this evening on the aftermath of the Paris attack.

Richard Boyd Barrett said: “The killing of 129 people in Paris by ISIS was a barbaric atrocity that must be condemned by all. It was a vile act motivated by a hateful sectarian view of the world where the people of different nationalities who congregated in Paris were defined as living in a world of ‘adultery and vice’. Only religious fanatics who were motivated by such a terrible political vision could carry out the murders in such a cold-blooded and calculating fashion.

However, to respond to this unspeakable atrocity by further bombing of Syria, as France and the US are proposing to do, is utter folly. More bombing will lead to further innocent deaths and will fuel the growth of violent extremist groups like ISIS. The only way to overcome this terrorist threat is to understand the context it grew out of.

In 2003, the world’s anti-war movement warned that the US intervention in Iraq would create a humanitarian disaster and create a sectarian nightmare. Unfortunately, these predictions have been borne out.

ISIS grew out of a Sunni sectarian reaction to the sectarian policies being deployed by the Maliki government in Iraq. It emerged out of a combination of ex-Ba’athist generals who formerly backed Saddam Hussein and jihadist elements who thrived on the resentments of populations like those in Fallujah who had been subjected to terrible US bombardment.

ISIS is not a product of a Muslim culture – it is rather the bitter fruit of an imperialist intervention which stoked up sectarian divisions. Understanding this is key to knowing how to respond.

The knee-jerk reaction of the big Western powers plus their Russian bedfellows is to push for even more bombing of Syria. They want retribution to show that their rule must never be threatened.

But Syria is already the most bombed country on the planet. The US is spending €8 million a day on bombing Syria and Russia is spending €4 million a day. On top of that a variety of regional powers are funneling in money and military equipment to various forces to carve out their ‘sphere of influence’ within the country. The US ally, Saudi Arabia, has given vast military resources to Jaish al-Fatah, or the Army of Conquest, a command structure for jihadist groups in Syria that includes Jabhat al-Nusra. Iran, by contrast is arming and supporting the Assad regime.

Yet despite this horrific militarization, there has been no stopping the growth of ISIS. The terrible reality is that more aerial bombardment leads to the inevitable massacres of civilians. Airwars, a coalition of independent investigative journalists has claimed that 459 civilians including 100 children have been killed in Raqqa in the first year of coalition bombing alone. These killings have created fertile ground for recruitment to ISIS.

Attempts, therefore, by the big powers to use the Paris terror attacks to step up their aerial bombardment of Syria is not just plain wrong – it is totally counter-productive. The more bombs that are dropped on cities like Raqqa, the more ordinary civilians are killed. And just like the people who died in Paris, their lives matter too.

The extreme right are also trying to use the bombings to target refugees fleeing from Syria. They de-humanise the refugees by denying that they share the exact same feelings as the people in Paris – but have only experienced more bombings and murder.

Sections of the media have taken up this refrain by claiming that there are ‘fears’ about the refugees because they may contain ISIS infiltrators. But the attackers of Paris were as likely to come from Belgium as anywhere else and no one has called for its borders to be closed. The plain reality is that it is easier for ISIS to send attackers into Europe with false passports on regular flights than it is to walk thousands of miles in arduous conditions.

The real hope of defeating ISIS lies in a revival of the Arab revolution. When that was in full flight, sectarian forces were pushed back and tyrants were terrified. It was precisely this latter fear that led Saudi Arabia to divert the revolt in Syria itself into a sectarian conflict. They shared that aim with Syria’s tyrant, Bashir Assad.

ISIS grew out of a bitter despair that arose from the aftermath of the Iraq war. If we want to defeat them, we should oppose more aerial bombardment, end military and economic support to despotic and oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq, Al- Sisi’s Egypt or Assad’s brutal regime. Instead, we should extend solidarity and support to the wider progressive movement for freedom and change throughout the Arab world and force an end to the criminal oppression of the Palestinian people.”