Issue 20:2015 09 17:letters

17 September 2015


Time is running out in the Middle East Sir John Watson’s article was educational for those of us sketchy about the last days of General Gordon. But I am uncomfortable about the parallels he draws with the current Middle East situation.  Gordon was in the Sudan on British government business and had every right to expect unstinting support. Today, however, we are a pimple on Europe’s backside, sometimes morphing into America’s poodle. The Middle East is like the gopher whacking fairground attraction where you smack one and another two pop up.  Destroying ISIL through military action is not an option. There are two measures that Europe can deploy. We can stop selling arms to the combatants.   Not a popular option with the defence firms expecting to coin it next week at the DSEI arms fair in the ExCel Centre. We can exert diplomatic and economic pressure on the people ISIL are selling oil to and the regional powers offering no support to the victims of the carnage on their doorsteps. If Russia floods the resulting vacuum good luck to them!  They might recall Afghanistan in the seventies. On the practical compassionate side we should invest heavily to help Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and Italy to support the refugees.  Settling a relatively small number in Northern Europe is more about gesture politics than solving the real problem.   Don Urquhart
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