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Saturday, 19 December 2015

The war against Isil is only the tip of a much bigger Middle East war unfolding before our eyes. It pits the Muslim world against itself


The war against Isil is only the tip of a much bigger Middle East war unfolding before our eyes. It pits the Muslim world against itself – Sunni versus Shia; Saudi versus Iran

Here is an important and strategically sensible article that puts the Syrian Civil war in its proper context although I do think more could be made of the malign influence of the US, the Saudi and the Turkish governments' roles in creating the whole mess.

Britain must not get caught in Islam's clash of civilisations

A Saudi-led ground force to confront Isil is welcome news – but there are perils for the UK and the West

By Michael Clarke

Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it is forming a 34-nation military coalition to confront Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) fighters on the ground is good news. It promises a much more credible military punch than the “70,000” local fighters David Cameron boasted of, who are engaged elsewhere in Syria and, in places, being attacked by Russian bombers.

Crucially, this latest initiative involves three of the four big local players – Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt – as well as some smaller local actors like the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. For once, regional states are taking a lead in trying to restore order in their own neighbourhood.

"The war against Isil is only the tip of a much bigger Middle East war unfolding before our eyes"

All this is tardy but nevertheless welcome, and it may yet rescue the Government’s open-ended air campaign against Isil from drifting into irrelevance. There is much that the US and the UK can add to the new coalition’s command-and-control centre to be established in Riyadh. A coordinated air/ground campaign is now a genuine prospect. Indeed, Isil fighters know that ground forces are coming for them in Mosul, Palmyra and Raqqa, because they are making elaborate preparations. When they do come, the resulting battles will be desperate and hard on public sensibilities.

This newfound military impetus should also add real urgency to the political processes in Vienna and New York – currently an exercise in diplomatic form over substance. The Western-orientated coalition now has a substantial bargaining chip to set against the forces of Assad, the Russians, and Iranian-led militias that have been in poll position since the summer.

But herein lies the problem. The war against Isil is only the tip of a much bigger Middle East war unfolding before our eyes. It pits the Muslim world against itself – Sunni versus Shia; Saudi versus Iran. And with the West supporting the Saudi-led Sunnis, and Russia the Iranian-led Shia, it threatens a dangerous renewal of Cold War-style conflict by proxy.

The signs of this are ominous. In theological terms, Saudi Wahhabism lies at the heart of the Sunni perversion of Islam that forms Isil. Yet the Saudis have long since lost control of the extremists. Indeed, Isil’s attraction for many ordinary Sunnis is popular frustration at how badly their autocratic and corrupt governments have let them down over the years, and how frightened they now are at a Shia resurgence across the Middle East that began with the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Britain has no direct interest in being part of a regional, sectarian war. The West simply wants to snuff out Isil, while adopting a strictly diplomatic approach to the broader regional problem. But sticking to our war against Isil without becoming part of the larger proxy war now taking shape will be a considerable achievement. What if the Saudi-led forces face defeat at the gates of Isil’s de facto capital in Raqqa? Would coalition air support alone save them? Or would some greater ground commitment become imperative?

For Western powers, the Saudi initiative promises to help achieve our main and only military objective – the defeat of Isil. But for the Saudis themselves, defeating Isil is only the first step in wresting back control over the Sunni communities of the Levant and Arabia. They could be at the beginning of a long war. How far will we go along with them?

There are disturbing historic echoes in the two great struggles between Sunni and Shia Muslims – in the Seventh and 16th centuries. In a region where grudges, animosities and spilt blood are particularly long-remembered, the repercussions are still felt today.

"The fact that Washington and London seem to know so little about this Saudi initiative is not a good sign"

Of course, the presence of the US, Russia, Britain, France and Germany in this regional equation might have a sobering effect on all participants and help keep the military objectives limited. But the fact that Washington and London seem to know so little about this Saudi initiative is not a good sign; they appear to be trailing in the wake of discreet Saudi diplomacy and are not yet in a position to react in more than general ways – let alone direct matters.

The Prime Minister has the right to feel that the announcement from Riyadh has justified his arguments for extending the UK’s air campaign to Syria. But he might also feel a tremor of dread. If this does prove to be another clash of Islam’s titanic forces, then Britain already has its fingers in the mangle.

Michael Clarke is the former Director of the Royal United Services Institute

Here is a link to the article >>>


  1. The English Democrats need to take advantage of the increasingly acrimonious split in Ukip between so-called "Red Ukip" represented by Douglas Carswell, Patrick O'Flynn and Suzanne Evans, and Blue Ukip led by Nigel Farage.
    "Red Ukip" is ripe for the English Democrats sovereignty message and fertile ground for recruits and defectors to the EDP.

    1. Is Carswell 'Red UKIP'? My impression is that he is an ultra economic libertarian. Would he, for example, support renationalisation of the railways?

      On immigration, Carswell has a liberal approach at odds with most people in UKIP. He was bad-mouthing the French FN party following last week's election there.

      I agree, however, that the potential Red UKIP slice of the electoral market is something that the English Democrats should be targeting.

    2. 'Red Ukip' seems to be a catch-all description of the faction opposed to Farage's "Blue" Ukip faction. Carswell, it seems, has appointed himself as the leader of the Red Ukippers.

  2. As usual our so called know all no nothing MI5 has let every one down again. And Cameron jumped the Gun, before he knew what was happening. His Masters told him to drop Bombs, so he fiddled the Votes to get his way as usual. Now our Little British Isles is in deep shit. Got unknown alleged Refugees with no vetting at all. Cameron was warned that Daesh is recruiting in These Refugee Camps. Is Cameron really that stupid or is he just acting stupid. So when all these alleged Refugees get here, and the Sleeprs amongst them are woken up, supplied with what ever they will need to carry out the Terrorist Action they have been trained to do. The Government will tell us it has nothing to do with Islam, well you lying conniving rat, tell that to the Relatives as they bury their loved ones

  3. Now Saudi Arabia is going to send in an Army made up of 34 countries , as Saudi has been supllying Daesh Smuggled through Turkey, not they are turning on them. Highly unlikely. Thought Daesh is Sunni, and the [Friendly] Jihadists were Shia which is fighting Daesh, or am I wrong, it is getting too confusing for me, will have to reread this post about whos who in this War against Terror.

  4. It is difficult to see what advantage declaring himself English and joining the English Democrats will have for Winston McKenzie, apart from some limited financial support from the party's scarce resources. It will make the Black and Ethnic British in London less likely to vote for him, and he is unlikely to appeal greatly to those English who are still living in London.
    His best hope of getting elected would be to form a pro-London party and hope for a backer with more money than the English Democrats can afford to lose.

  5. If England doesn't extract herself from the UK and the Neo-cons' war in the Levant, she will find the Muslim world pitted against her as well. Imperialist war is embedded in the mind set of the British state, and in a more virulent form in America.

  6. I know this is off topic but backin June the House of Lords started a Bill giving resident non British EU citizens full voting rights in the UK.

    Be warned. This is a top down attack, if it passes there it will passin the commons too.


  7. An article in the Independent says, "Just 19 months ago Ukip seemed to have the Tories on the run after breaking the century-long, two-party deadlock on national elections with its European parliamentary triumph while promoting concerns over gay marriage. Now there is the Oldham setback, falling membership and open warfare at the top, while the drying up of funds - just £49,000 in third quarter major donations - has led to staff layoffs. Some commentators have already said the party is finished, even as it stands on the cusp of achieving its long-cherished vote on Europe."

    The author would be delighted to see Ukip disappear, but warns of the danger is of it being replaced by a populist [nationalist] party, exploiting fears over immigration and Islamophobia.

  8. Data from pollster YouGov gives an insight into what it calls "the two tribes of Ukip." The divide is between those voters who were formerly Conservatives and right-leaning, and those who used to vote Labour. These two groups are popularly known as "blue" and "red" Ukip.

    Blue Ukip is overwhelmingly concentrated along the South Coast and in the South East, while red Ukippers reside in the North. The Midlands is evenly split between the two.

    Red Ukip supporters put traditional left-wing issues like re-nationalising utilities and railways at the top of their domestic concerns, while blue Ukip voters like the party's stand against what they perceive to be political correctness and multiculturalism.

    However, it isn't just politics where the two camps diverge. Ukip's two tribes have radically different cultural tastes in terms of their favourite celebrities and TV shows: blue Ukip puts Margaret Thatcher and Boris Johnson among their top-rated celebs. Their red counterparts were more likely to name Piers Morgan and Michael Barrymore among their favourite stars.

    The English Democrats must target the northern so-called Red Ukip voters. The southern Blue Ukip voters are more likely to revert to the Tories, as they did in May.

  9. Ukip's financial backers are transferring their money from Ukip to the 'out' campaign.

    1. Can't some of that money be transferred to the English Democrats? The EDP is the party with a future.

    2. It is to be hoped that it does have a future.

  10. There are two possible futures for England [1] it becomes uniformly multicultural and multi-ethnic, which is the current trajectory, or [2] England shrinks its borders, conceding territory to Britain in the form of Britistans, such as London and Birmingham, where the language is international English creole, the religion is Islam and the populations are Black and Ethnic British.

    1. Londonistan and Birmistan might followed by Leicestan together forming Britannistan. What a thought.

  11. Former Ukip deputy leader Suzanne Evans would be a more credible candidate for the London Mayoral elections than Winstone McKenzie with his history of switching parties and allegedly putting his foot in it. That is supposing that she would be willing to jump ship and join the English Democrats.
    Her vision is closer to that of the ED's than it is to that of a Farage led Ukip. If she remains in Ukip her political career is finished because Ukip is not going to dump its greatest asset which is the cheeky chappie himself. And Farage will not want to allow her a platform in the London mayoral election.
    The English Democrats should approach her with the proposition that she stand for the EDs. There would be no harm done. She might accept the offer.

    1. The only people who might vote for Winston McKenzie are the Afro-Caribbeans and they are the least likely community to vote. It seems that the National Council is determined to see the English Democrats humiliated in London.
      If Suzanne Evans could be persuaded that would really be a coup for the English Democrats.

  12. Sangin district has fallen to the Taliban just a day after Helmand province's deputy governor used Facebook to plead with the Afghan president for help in holding off the armed group.

    Sangin fell to the Taliban after hours of fierce clashes that killed more than 90 soldiers in two days. An Afghan police spokesperson reported the Taliban taking over police and military installations.

    The West defeated the USSR in Afghanistan by supporting the Mujahidin. That led to the rise of the Taliban. Now the West it doing something similar in Syria to get rid of Assad probably allowing ISIL to take over.

    The Afghan government has asked for air support in Helmand, but the request has been rejected. In the meantime, NATO planes are queuing up over Syria for their turn to drop bombs, because there are not enough targets for them all.

  13. The BBC has awarded Ukip three party political broadcasts a year outside elections even though the party has only one MP in the House of Commons, following a rule change introduced by the corporation’s governing body.

    The broadcaster said it had done so taking into account Ukip’s level of support in the country and the fact that in the runup to the referendum on EU membership a Eurosceptic party should get more time on British television.
    This decision seems odd given the falling support for Ukip.
    It is clear that the BBC has a bias in Ukip's favour, along with the Daily Mail stable of newspapers.
    There is clearly something strange going on.

  14. Research
    Tackling the EU Empire
    A handbook for Europe’s democrats, whether on the political Right, Left or Centre
    Basic critical facts on the EU/Eurozone

    Professor Anthony Coughlan of Trinity College Dublin and TEAM the international alliance of EU-critical movements

    Readers are invited to use or adapt this document for their own purposes, including changing its title if desired, and to circulate it to others without any need of reference to or acknowledgement of its source. People circulating it to others might consider adding an addendum outlining their own country’s experience of the EU/Eurozone.

    Click here to read the research online

    The glory of European civilisation has been the diversity of its national components – in culture, science, political institutions, economic actors, legal systems, education systems, tax codes, fashion. In classical Europe emulation and competition between nations, communities and individuals spurred creativity and innovation. The peak of Europe’s cultural achievements occurred when its political units were numerous and small – in Athenian Greece, Renaissance Italy, 17th century Netherlands, 18th century Germany. This classical Europe, which is synonymous with much of what is best in human civilization, is the opposite of the centralised “Europe” of the Brussels bureaucracy, with its mania for imposing uniformity and “harmonization” by means of its supranational laws.

    The EU is a Supranational political construct. Supranationalism is the opposite of internationalism, which is a benign and progressive concept. Internationalism – from Latin inter, “between” – implies the pre-existence of sovereign Nation States. It refers to relations of co-operation between the States that constitute the international community, but with each controlling and deciding its own domestic and external affairs in accordance with the wishes of its people. Recognition of States based on the right to self-determination of nations and peoples is a basic principle of modern democracy and international law.

    Supranationalism, in contrast to internationalism, implies a hierarchy, with the supranational level on top. Internationalism implies legal and political equality between the parties. Properly understood, internationalism is opposed to all forms of chauvinism and xenophobia. It implies coexistence among progressive “nationalisms” – that is, broad nationalisms rather than narrow, using the positive rather than the negative sense of that word in English. It implies patriotism and love of country, combined with respect for the many national communities into which humanity is divided and admiration for their varied cultural and other achievements.

    Internationalism delights in the diversity of nations. Supranationalism seeks to erode national differences and seeks the erosion of State sovereignty. Internationalism seeks to establish and maintain it. Supranationalism means rule by technocrats, supposed experts who are not elected, without democratic control. The EU Commission is a good example. Supranationalism leaves ordinary people cold. In the EU it means “Brussels talking to Brussels” as the elite groups concerned get ever more removed from citizens and voters in the different national communities they come from.


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    1. The voters don't "get" the EU and don't care that much. For them the big issues are the usual ones such as their income, job security, housing, the NHS to which have been added immigration, and the Islamist threat. They tend not to link immigration with EU membership, but in any case much of the immigration is from outside the EU. The Ukip vote (which is declining) is not so much anti-EU as protest.
      The EDP needs to adopt a position which reflects the electorate's biggest concerns. It cannot rely on opposition to the EU as its key issue.
      Ukip is seen as a single issue party and it can never escape that. The nationalist agenda should be broad spectrum. The EDP must not fall into the same narrow trap as Ukip.

  15. A recently distributed article contained the following, "Many communities around the country have become enriched during the last half century by the increase of people of different faiths This is particularly the case in such cities as London, Birmingham, Leicester and Bradford.
    In Birmingham we are blessed with more than 45 per cent of the population belonging to BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities resulting in a rich variety of religious faiths. Our skyline has an array of church spires, gudwara domes, minarets, pagodas and other faith beautiful buildings, reflecting the breadth of worldwide religions existing in our super-diverse city."
    Do the native English people want to live in a "super-diverse" England?
    Let London be the super-diverse international city, where the diverse population can come and go when their business here is done, or, if seeking asylum, the threat in their own countries has gone, but leave the rest of England to be English.

  16. The English entered what is now England via the Humber and the Yorkshire Ouse, as did the Danes 400 years later. Hull could be the first large city for the English Democrats to take over. Humberside could be the key to England.

    1. Many people think that the English take their name from England (maybe including some English Democrats), whereas the reverse is true, England took its name from the English.

    2. The Angles gave their name to the English language and the Angles were English speaking people from Angeln in Northern Germany.

  17. Simon Jenkins believes that the likelihood of a caliphate in England is precisely zero. Let it be hoped that Sir Simon is right.

  18. Ukip is a failed experiment and is in meltdown. The English Democrats must be ready to take centre stage.