Support the Kurds

25.10.2019

From the start, the United Kingdom’s policy has been a classic example of tramline thinking and assuming that the future will be like the past. First, right at the start, there was the Arab spring, which everyone thought would be like the Prague spring. The very word “spring” was misleading; people thought that dictators would fall and democracy would blossom. None of that has happened. Secondly, Syria was assumed to be the same as other Arab countries with tyrants overthrown, when of course it is really quite different. Thirdly, there was inadequate taking into account of the realities of the digital age, when foreign and international policy issues are working out quite differently from in the past. That applies to the whole range of foreign policy, as a matter of fact.

Right from the start, we were warned by ex-ambassadors of great distinction in this House—at least two of them, if not more—that we were on the wrong track. I have nothing but huge admiration for the Minister who will answer, and this is nothing to do with him at all, but the truth is that our policy has been an unmitigated disaster. We have now got to the point where NATO is being threatened in a very dangerous way. There are huge threats to the supply lines and security of the NATO structure. America has shown itself to be an utterly unreliable and erratic ally, changing its policy from day to day. Russia is in the driving seat. I suppose all one can say on that is, “Good luck”, because it too will be sucked into the quagmire in due course. I expect that, in the end, it will find the same experience as it has in Afghanistan. However, for the moment, it is riding high and in cahoots with Turkey, so far as one can make out.

What is the way forward out of all this? I think there are just two things we can do. First, we can at least understand Turkey’s fear of PKK terrorism. No one likes terrorism, or bombs going off in their territory; we have to understand that. That does not mean for a second that we can condone what Turkey is doing in trying to grab the top part of Syria. It does not mean that we condone for a second the summary executions and the violence that has been shown in the last few weeks. Maybe it will stop for a few days, but there is no guarantee that it will not resume immediately.

Secondly, I believe the British should continue to support the Kurds in every way we can, although it is bound to be limited. They are old friends and allies and we have given them certain undertakings in the past which I believe we should now try to stick to, limited though our abilities and capacities are in this whole muddled scene. Let us at least rescue some principle out of this whole imbroglio. That is my plea to the Minister and I would dearly like to know whether we will indeed give the support we can to the Kurds, even while they are being attacked from all sides, by Assad, Russia and Turkey. They are our friends. We should stick by our friends.​

 

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