David Cameron seems to think that extending UK air strikes in Syria would eliminate both ISIS and Bashar al-Assad (“No 10 plan for Syria without Assad and Isis”, 10/9/15). Yet, since the US and other coalition forces re-commenced air strikes in both Iraq and Syria last year, more than 44,000 sorties have been flown over Iraq and Syria, attacking some 7,655 ISIS targets and killing at least 10,000 ISIS fighters.
While up to 1,000 ISIS fighters a month may be killed from bombs and drone attacks, they are at the same time gaining at least that number of recruits every month, not just from Syria and Iraq but from the UK, France, Belgium, Russia and many other countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. They are now conducting military operations in Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Egypt and Russia as well as in Iraq and Syria. They show no sign of being ‘eliminated’. Why would the addition of a few bombers from the RAF make any difference to this situation?
In fact, more bombing is exactly what ISIS wants and needs to get more recruits and consolidate its power base. That is precisely why they engage in ritualistic beheadings and the killing of tourists. Their strategy is to goad western governments into responding militarily to their provocations because that is the oxygen they need to exist – and we obligingly give it to them.
Think again, David Cameron! What is needed in Syria is not more bombing but a serious commitment to find a negotiated solution with all the parties in the region, including Iran and Russia. Nothing short of that is going to stop the appalling loss of life, loss of homes, loss of livelihoods and the steady stream of refugees who have nowhere else to go.