More Death and Suffering in the Middle East - Time to Stop Supporting the Bombing

Earlier this week 68 civilians were killed in two air raids in Yemen. The first hit a crowded market in Taez province, killing 54 civilians including eight children, and wounding 32 others. The second was in the Red Sea province of Hodeidah and killed 14 people from the same family.

The perpetrators of these atrocities was the Saudi-led coalition.

In Afghanistan yesterday ISIS killed at least 41 people and injured more than 80 others in an attack on a Shia cultural centre and news agency in Kabul. The UN said the attack deliberately targeted children.

Just one week ago the Associated Press reported that the price residents of Mosul in Iraq paid in blood to see their city freed was 9,000 to 11,000 dead. This is a civilian casualty rate nearly 10 times higher than what has been previously reported. The number killed in the nine-month battle to liberate the city from ISIS has not been acknowledged by the US-led coalition, the Iraqi government or ISIS.

Yemen, Afgnahistan, Iraq ... three countries destroyed by foreign military interventions, with ordinary men, women and children left to suffer the brutal, appalling consequences. Added to that list there is Libya, another country brought to its knees by Western intervention. Although NATO and the US justified its mission in Libya on humanitarian grounds, their intervention in fact greatly magnified the death toll there (see Obama's Libya Debacle:How a Well-Meaning Intervention Ended in Failure).

In a 2011 article assessing the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, David Held and Kristian Coates Ulrichsen concluded that the West's use of military power had done little except leave a legacy of failing states and fractured societies, and had caused enormous death and destruction across the broader Middle East.

Writing in Al Jazeera last April on Mosul's civilian deaths, Zaid al-Ali said that the US had become so involved in Iraq's modern history that its footprint can be found everywhere. He pointed out that while ISIS may be an outgrowth of radical ideology that was born elsewhere, it was the US that supported the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the 1980s and which imposed a deadly embargo throughout the 1990s, turning Iraq into fertile ground for those same ideas to grow.

In the last two weeks Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, US President Trump, and Russian President Putin have all declared victory against ISIS. The pro-Trump media in the US is crediting its air strikes and its troops serving on the ground as "advisers" with government forces in Iraq and with Kurdish and Arab groups in Syria. At the same time the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq have accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of allowing ISIS militants to retreat in areas under its control "without being punished". And Russia has accused the US of using its base in Syria to train ISIS fighters.

Regardless of who is right - the Russians or the Americans - the people of the Middle East will continue to suffer and die as a consequence of foreign military intervention. Six months ago a New Republic article suggested that the US might even be stumbling into a deeper war in Syria. With ISIS in retreat, the likelihood of a larger American intervention there is increasing rather than decreasing. This is because the various factions fighting ISIS - the Al Assad regime, Russia, Iran, and the US - are getting ready to maximize their power in the post-ISIS world.

Despite its claims to be neutral, Ireland has provided logistical support for the US military interventions in the Middle East since 2002. The 3 million or so US troops that have passed through the de-facto US military base at Shannon have created the conditions that allowed ISIS to flourish. In recent times, they (ISIS) may have been severely weakened. But the only thing that has changed in terms of US policy is the emergence of an even greater willingness to engage in large-scale global violence. And Ireland is continuing to support that at Shannon Airport.

Going back to Yemen, a large part of the country's population is on the brink of starvation while airstrikes reign down on schools, hospitals, markets and mosques. The Saudi-led coalition of Arab states backing the government of President Hadi and supported by the US, Britain and others have been guilty of war crimes, as have the opposing Houthi rebels. And true to form, Ireland is compliant with the US supported aggression.

On 12th Dec, Simon Coveney, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, said he remained "extremely concerned about the current situation in Yemen, as the humanitarian situation has reached crisis point". In answer to a parliamentary question from Clare Daly TD he acknowledged that the fighting is having devastating consequences for civilians, with credible allegations of violations of international humanitarian law. And he said he will continue to raise his concerns about the situation in Yemen with the Saudi authorities.

All that while providing full logistical support for the US policy of military aggression and airstrikes.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen ... its time Ireland woke up, restored their neutrality, and said enough is enough. No more support for the killing and maiming of innocent civilians, and the destruction of their countries. And end the US military use of Shannon as a first step.

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