MPs will make the UK a terror target once again if they vote to bomb ISIS

If British MPs want to make the UK a target for ISIS terror attacks then all they have to do is vote for military action on Friday, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.

And indeed it seems likely that MPs will vote to back airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq during the upcoming House of Commons debate.

Prime Minister David Cameron has already said parliamentarians should respond to the Iraqi government’s request for help. He added that the UK “should not turn away from what needs to be done”.

The Liberal Democrats are backing airstrikes too and Labour leader Ed Miliband says the UK cannot “opt out”.

But make no mistake, if Parliament votes to take this action it will: a) not defeat ISIS in Iraq or Syria. b) will make ISIS heroes across the Muslim world and c) will make the UK once again the target of terrorism.

Terror threat

The fact is that the “terror threat” to Britain has receded these past few years because the UK has pulled most of its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Foreign policy grievances have always been the main factor behind terror plots and attacks, and this is something that the government knows all too well even though they’ve desperately tried to deflect attention away from it.

But since the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 the focus of international jihad has not been the West. Rather, it has been places like Libya, Somalia and, of course, Syria.

Isis fighters, pictured on a militant website verified by AP.

So why the British government would go out of its way to make itself a target is a perplexing question.

I can only assume that this crazy decision to bomb ISIS is being driven by powerful forces within the security establishment who want to carve out a new role for themselves and attract more funding in the process.

In the past few months we have been bombarded by media scare stories about the “ISIS threat” to Britain.

But the fact is that ISIS poses no strategic threat to the UK. Hitler during World War 2 was a strategic threat; powerful states like Russia and China are strategic threats; but a ramshackle bunch of jihadis who don’t even have a proper state of their own can in no way be described as a major threat to one of the world’s most powerful nations.

At best ISIS can conduct a few terrorist attacks against “soft” targets. These have the potential to kill some people but they certainly won’t bring down Western civilization.

But perhaps that suits the security establishment – a terror threat to Britain which will keep them all in jobs, but a manageable one that won’t be too difficult to stem.

MENA

On the other hand, ISIS definitely is a threat to the Middle East and has already played a huge part in destabalizing Syria and Iraq.

They are indeed a bunch of murderous barbarians who bring into disrepute the religion that all Muslims love. And they need to be stopped in their tracks before they wreak more havoc across vast swathes of territory.

David Cameron is backing air strikes
David Cameron is backing air strikes

And, of course, the West shares a large degree of responsibility for creating this monster having carved out the conditions for it to thrive by destabalizing Iraq and Syria.

But ultimately it is the local actors who can destroy ISIS if they have the will. Saudi and Qatar can turn off the funding taps, Turkey can stop allowing terrorists to cross its borders, and regional armies could work together to destroy the false “Islamic State.”

Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen anytime soon as the Gulf states, Turkey and Iran have yet to bridge their differences over how Syria will be ruled. The Gulf states, in particular, bear the most responsibility for cultivating ISIS and despite the current action they are taking I am not convinced that they wish to destroy the group completely.

But ultimately this is a fight between the regional actors and has nothing to do with the West.

The West

So what should the West do? The answer to that is simple – absolutely nothing.

History has proved time and again that Western intervention in the Muslim world makes things worse.

Afghanistan was a much better place before the US-led invasion in 2001; Iraq was a much better place before the US-led invasion in 2003; and Libya was a much better place before the NATO bombardment in 2011.

Even Syria was a much better place before the West and its regional allies backed an armed uprising there in 2011.

In short, everything the West touches in the Middle East turns bad. So there is absolutely no reason for them to intervene in somebody else’s fight which could lead to unpredictable consequences.

Civilians will doubtlessly be killed, more volunteers will flock to defend the “Dawla”, and retaliatory attacks will be an inevitability.

In my opinion, this intervention is more about regaining control of a floundering campaign to topple Assad and will be the opening salvo in one last push at regime change before Obama leaves office. But that won’t be debated on Friday.

So to conclude, for once British MPs should listen to sane voices emanating from the British Muslim community and the region. Voices who know what they’re talking about rather than neo-cons and fake liberals who insist that it’s the UK’s duty to save the world.

MPs should reject military action on Friday for the sake of the people of the Middle East and for the sake of their own citizens.

@RMSalih

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