Yesterday British MPs voted overwhelmingly in support of the third war on Iraq, in my lifetime. In doing so they further endanger the people of Iraq, Syria and Britain, and simultaneously strengthen the white supremacy that they are groomed and encultured to service. It feels like a horrible rerun of 2003, with no lessons learnt and a weaker, wearier opposition.
ISIS do seem to go out of their way to conveniently stamp bastard on everything that they touch, so you really need a decolonial humanic backbone to see through the smoke and mirrors here. The whiteous;y indignant, yet hypnotic 'So what's your solution' disqualification of dissent sung with the war drum creates a false urgency (like the 45 minute Weapons of Mass Distraction lie). Beneath this, the general shallowness of MPs, who are consumers like the rest of us, can be relied upon to deliver the most foolish verdict on the most dubious information. (Remember Jeremy Bowen and The BBC are embedded with Assad The Dog.)
Like in 2003, the anti war opposition is pushed will be marginalised by the masters of this war as they make a dog's dinner out the dogs dinner they co-produced since 2003 out of the dog's dinner they co-produced since 1991.
Beneath There Is No Alternative, lies White Supremacy
Of course there are always a myriad of alternative options to the violence on the table, the thing is that they wont make white structures of power feel like they are saving the world, and that is how they want to feel. Nevertheless, yesterday Caroline Lucas of the Green Party articulated a decent alternative vision of the issue here, while the Stop the War Coalition protests unfolded in multiple locations. The gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, another Green, proposed that the secular liberal-left PKK be armed up for the occasion.
White supremacy is at the heart of this matter, as evidenced by the comparative value accorded to human life. Non white life is waste, trash, unless an agenda can be wrapped around it. It is also a crying shame that we in parts deploy such devaluation of life. Apologies for the commodification-thinking that using such quantities, devoid of soul as we enumerate.
According to Iraq Body Count, since 2003 invasion of Iraq 195 000 humans have been killed. An academic, cluster -sample based effort put the 2003-11 war caused figure of death at 500 000. It is thought that another 500 000, mainly children were killed due to the US imposed sanctions.
Who can forget former US secretary of State Madeline Albright's words that this 'difficult price' was 'worth it'? What, in her mind, was the prize for such a price.
The acts of Saddam remain inscribed on the Iraqi power elite and population. If we attributes all the deaths of the Iran-Iraq war to him, as well has his internal 'contributions' , of Anfal in 1988 against Shia Kurds who sided with Iran, the chemical gas attack on Halabja in 1988 and attacks to suppress uprising Kurds and Shia after the 1991 Gulf War the figure of death may well rise to the million scale.
For reference, 1988 Iraq's official population was 17 million, 1991 18 million and 2013 33 million.
..and its Death Sciences
Technologies of death, domination and transfer develop. From chemical war of the 80s, and stealth 'precision' bombing in the 90s, to daisy cutters and drones more recently. During the Iran-Iraq war George W Bush's Secretary of Attack Donald Rumsfeld met in secret with Saddam to assist him fight Iran, linking him to US suppliers of anthrax and bubonic plague.
During the post 2003 occupation;s disbanding of Iraq's defeated army and debaathification of the civil services armed and empowered inept, corrupt and largely sectarian elites, who couldn't in the end fight for shit and ran away from ISIS leaving their American supplied weapons for free.
This is important to recall the moral high ground that the protagonists of this war assemblage leverage off ISIS, having just recently helped Israel get away with mass murder.
This foolishness is a multi-agent plaza, and I feel awful that my taxes are funding this Coalition government's hi-tech savagery. The deadly hypocrisy of it all is not lost on the Mirror, who provide the following contextualising cost loss estimates (which do not of course account for the damage done to Iraqi life and property by said munitions).
Every £33,000 hour a Tornado flies is equivalent to hiring a nurse for a year.
Fire a £1m Tomahawk missile and it takes out a school full of teachers.
Drop a £2m Storm Shadow guided bomb and bang goes the annual bedroom tax of 2,750 households.I can't help but feel that there would have need no macho posturing if the Scottish referendum had resulted in a successful Yes. But the malaise that makes the Iraqis so vulnerable is refracted within our own communities nearer to home.
I am a long way from figuring out the internal dynamics of this but Muslim narratives on Iraq vary enormously if you pay attention and don't zone out when the other sect is talking. Fundamentally, I believe our problem is with Ridiculisation and not the War on Terror industry's framing of Radicalisation, and that we must be creative, ecological and decolonial in thought, partnership and political practice.
My focus in recent years has not been on Syria, but Bangladesh, but some things are pretty obvious. It is the self-immolatingly anti-shia scaredy pants of the Arab petroSunnis who seem to have done most to sectarianise the battle for justice in Syria, and the idea that one can overthrow a professionally trained army state with some AKs, has weakened the Palestinian cause. The Arab Sting has really hurt and its beneficiaries are laughing.
Back to Iraq, and we know that a section of Iraqi Shia ex-exiles and kids have always been pro US invasion since before 2003, for valid practical reasons like not wanting their heads kicked in by Saddam any longer. This year especially, the broader Shia part of us, better articulated by young up and coming middle class friendly journalists in the MSM, and not dulled by fucking lobotomising impacts of salaphication has participated, along with Iranian religious authorities in helping to put ISIS at center stage, and backgrounding the legitimate resistance to the Syrian regime.
Social media, though not influential as it thinks itself, is an important space for self affirmation and a kind of forumulaic and visual political dhikr. In many ways the UKbased #No2ISIS campaign resembled the 2013 #SaveBangladesh one, however it was shitter and its alignment with establishment agenda gave it an additionally naff character.
In the field, several brave young Muslim and non Syrian medics like Shaheed Isa Abdur Rahman have been martyred assisting people's humanitarian needs. Our community is open handed, alhamdulillah, and Aid convoys have come and gone (some more clueless than others). Many young people, sociopaths included, now find themselves in the theater of war.
Qualitatively and quantitatively, it feels insufficient, and much of the Ummah probably feels this way. Perhaps only Turkey has done the M word justice as a whole, and it is outfits like their IHH that we could support rather than DIY approaches that will be surveilled and disrupted the shit out of. There are long term resettlement issues in Turkey, and they will be challenged for years to come.
How do we know?
A much loved Shayk was speaking to a gathering of educators recently, he warned people not to meddle on the internet in things they knew nothing about. Perhaps he meant trying to find out whats going on in a non consumptive way, which carries the hazard of being state recrimination.
Unlike during the Chechen wars, the post 9/11 clampdown on physical vitality on the internet makes it harder for systematic alternative and fact based news services to establish themselves. It is a pity that this conflagration has rendered the otherwise great Robert Fisk absolutely useless. Instead we have been 'treated' to all manner of narcissistic and bloody minded rudeboy warriors trying insane methods to redeem their pasts as well as the much discussed ISIS antiporn.
Its not impossible to find out some things though, even officially. An Essex born ambulance driver told Channel 4 earlier this week that a Brit, not fighting for ISIS, had been killed in US airstrikes and the American Muslim journalist, Bilal Abdul Raheem (blog) remains an unusually awesome and reflectful source on these matters. VICE, that annoying, lewd hipster outfit has really raised its reporting game. Its recent feature, The Ghosts of Aleppo gives us an insight into the day to day life of the resistance of the Islamic front in one of humankind's oldest continuously occupied cities.
There are probably British Muslims fighting on all three (basic) sides of the Syria conflict with all manner of different ethical commitments, capabilities and motivations. However, they are, as they were in Bosnia, a minor part of the battlefield theater, despite the hulabaloo. One of Bilal Abdur Raheem's recent reports suggested that Western fighters may be trapped in ISIS, a friend of mine who went on a convoy or two said that Syrians were so happy to see Muslims from the West, since most of them would get taken away by ISIS as soon as they arrived. Gatekeepers wherever you turn ey?
Like I said earlier, Iraq features very differently in the Shia sacred and civilisational geographies than it does in the world of the Arab Sunni. The prevailing view is that Maliki wasn't so bad, and that Syria was a case of external destabilisation in Israel's favour. At the Gaza protests, letterers dotted Hyde Park building equivalences between the ISIS and Israeli agendas. After all, ISIS did sweet fuck all to counter Israeli aggression.
Many of the more excitable Sunnis, were initially pro turning the tables on Assad The Dog, in those heady days of the Arab Sting, we were stung hard with a non critical spirit and unhelpful emotional stoking from certain saudi 'scholars' inexplicably allowed into the UK to bait people. (Duas to all the real scholars in Saudi who have lost position and social mobility for their commitments to truth.) Not to mention the deranged Shia Kuwaiti whose bumsexology pushes the envelope in human worm relations ( erm courtesy of MEMRI).
The lazy days of illusions of a Muslim bloc thinking need to be put back in the draw and the practical politics of transnational heart to heart decolonial alliance building embarked upon. I think most people, save those vying for attention would be inclined to agree.
Labour Efnic Politricks?
Unusually, the Labour member for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, well known as a thoroughly compromised person of colour, abstained from the vote yesterday and resigned her position in the shadow cabinet. An admirable looking position to take on the face of it.
I must confess that I normally love Mulberries ( ITs a school in the ganj) because these begums are so awesome and are a vital part of the future. But perhaps this one got lobotomised at Oxford during her enwhitening PPE there and reprogrammed into an anodyne new Labour vessel. The investigation continues.
I remember the Altab Ali park protest rally at the beating of Rizwan Hussain at Dhaka Airport in 2008, a noble venture which was in the process of being coopted by the sheer numbers of loser unclejis. Ms Ali was very interested to know which of us were local residents she could 'enrol', and we thought she was a tactless schmoozer. However, she made an interesting attempt to hash out and dignified diasporic position on what the Bangladesh government had effectively and violently told the younger generation of Brilhetis ( British-Sylhetis).
Later in 2010, Rushanara Ali was voted into power as part of joint British Labour Party - Bangladesh Awami League's power games, and her silence on that government's massacre, and the British government's silence about the massacre, in Dhaka last May is despicable. Until she addresses this as she should I do not believe that her self interested gesture politics should be taken at face value.
There are plenty of manageable persons of colour on the conveyor belt.
For more on this unsavoury episode of Bangladesh's recent history here is an article and survivor interview one year on.