IRAQ – RISING TENSIONS CALL FOR COOL POLITICAL HEADS
By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.
12 Aug 14. Amid reported criticism from the most senior serving British Army General in NATO, Sir Richard Shirreff suggesting that, ahead of next year’s General Election “politicians were terrified of any form of intervention” confirmation that the UK is to send Marham based Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 jets to provide surveillance assistance in support of the already under way humanitarian relief mission in Northern Iraq seems to me to be a sound, sensible and very appropriate response by HM Government.
Unfolding events in Ukraine and Gaza have been quite bad enough for the ‘West’ to watch during this year but with rising tension and increased levels of internal conflict now very evident in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other parts of the Middle East region we can be in little doubt that world is witnessing a significant rise in geo-political tensions. We do need to be concerned and we need to not only redouble our diplomatic and humanitarian based efforts but also accept the relevance this has to the defence and security of our own nation and the reduced ability that our armed forces now have to engage in more than one international conflict.
With the Iraqi based sectarian ‘genie’ now out of the lamp’ means also that rise in the number of authoritarian based power struggles and sectarian based conflicts could quickly spread to other nations within the Middle East region. The world frets about events in Syria, Iraq and the emergence of ISIS. It frets over what it sees in Gaza and of how to bring the various elements of this much troubled Palestinian nation to a lasting peace with Israel. The world is constantly watching Iran and it fears also for Jordan just as it also does for what might yet emerge in Afghanistan when western troops have completed the task of departure.
The world is then far from being at peace with itself and with the situation in Ukraine no nearer being resolved Russian too remains in the dock of critical western opinion. Why is it that I now following sign of an increased desire for authority by the incumbent president fear that before long we may even be adding Turkey to that same list?
But it is events in the Middle East that dominate our thoughts today. Whilst remembering that we have ourselves been partly to blame for a history of events across the Middle-East region in the century past the question now is whether we should become further embroiled in sectarian and internal power based disputes such as the one that is currently playing out in Iraq and over which we can even with the strength of our military might in the end have no ultimate control?
Clearly, having engaged in many parts of the Middle-East region in the past we in Britain have an unequalled level moral responsibility particularly in terms of the constant process of diplomatic effort and where required, the supply of humanitarian effort. We must also recognise that those that would oppose our chosen way of life are very well aware that western public opinion is on balance probably against having troops on the ground.
To change the current public attitude and view that, following on from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya campaigns, enough is enough would require not only demonstrable leadership on the part of our political masters in putting forward the undeniable message of potential threat that we face through the rise in geo-political tension in terms of future security of our own nation but also tacit admission that current levels of planned defence capability in the UK are far too low.
With British and American troops in the process of rather too publically pulling out of Afghanistan and as a direct consequence of ill thought out support of the Maliki government I would suggest that recent (ISIS) IS-led Sunni rebel activity has torn apart hopes that Iraq might remain a single nation. I doubt that even