Tuesday, 21 July 2015

I'm a Syrian and I fight Isil every day. It will take more than bombs from the West to defeat this menace

Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State (Isil) while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in this June 30, 2014 file photo. 2014 saw the rise of the Sunni militant group Islamic State, which has seized swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq.

"Almost two years agothe House of Commons met to decide whether to take military action against Bashar al-Assad. Few people would have predicted that the vote by MPs, taken a week after the Syrian dictator attacked opposition-controlled suburbs of Damascus with chemical weapons, would set off a chain reaction in the region and beyond, the cost of which we are only beginning to fathom. Keen to exorcise the ghost of Tony Blair and score political points, the Labour leader Ed Miliband marshalled just enough votes to defeat the Government motion. President Obama quickly developed cold feet about punitive air strikes and the rest, as they say, is history.
And what a history it has been. Four million Syrian refugees, eight million internally displaced, and three hundred thousand civilians dead, the vast majority at the hands of Assad’s murderous conventional war machine, tells only part of the story. The aftershock of that vote was felt further afield, as far as Moscow in fact, where President Vladimir Putin felt he could capitalise on the West’s lack of resolve to pursue his expansionist policy in Ukraine.
In Ahrar Al-Sham we have lost 700 of our fighters in battles against IS since January 2014, and we and our allies are holding a 45km front line against Isil in Aleppo. We know what it is like to confront the menace of Isil. But Cameron should be aware that any further undermining of the Sunni Arab interest in the region in favour of Iran and its proxies will only empower Isil. We believe that Isil is not only a security or military threat but a social and ideological phenomena that needs to be confronted on multiple levels and that requires a national Sunni alternative to both Assad and Islamic State.
Thanks to Ed Miliband’s posturing two years ago, the opportunity to deal an early blow to Assad and bring the conflict to an early conclusion was missed. Two years of inaction have only made things worse. Washington’s current policy of undermining the Sunni interest in the region while pandering to Iran is furthering weakening efforts to defeat Isil, rid Syria of Assad and bring about a political resolution to the conflict. As the RAF readies to join in the military coalition against Isil, Britain’s government would be wise to consider new approaches to fighting the extremist group that goes beyond just dropping bombs."

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