Opinion Politics

Is Owen Smith right to want to negotiate with Daesh?

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Labour leadership contender Owen Smith has been forced into an embarrassing retreat after he suggested we should get the terrorist organisation Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) around the negotiating table. He later backtracked, and said he does not think such talks could happen unless Daesh renounce their violence and commit to a peaceful settlement.

His team came under pressure to clarify his controversial comments in which he suggested that there should be negotiations with the extremist organisation, to end the civil war in Syria.

Back in January, Jeremy Corbyn made similar comments when he suggested that there could be potential benefits to opening diplomatic back-channels with the terror group. He then clarified his position and confirmed that we should not negotiate with Daesh.

The danger with such statements from senior Labour politicians is that it suggests that Daesh is an organisation that we should negotiate with. This then gives them the legitimacy of being a reliable ‘potential partner’ in order to stop the civil war in Syria.

But Daesh is neither a state nor a potential partner for any peace talks and should not have the right of negotiating any kind of peace deal to end the Syrian civil war. So when Smith went a step ahead of Corbyn, he may have provided the legitimacy required to sit at the negotiation table.

Who is Daesh and what are they capable of?

Daesh is a loose acronym of the Arabic for ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham). The term ‘Daesh’ is also considered insulting, and the group itself doesn’t like the name one bit. ‘Daesh’ sounds like the Arabic term ‘Daes’, meaning ‘one who crushes something underfoot’, as well as ‘Dahes’, which means ‘one who sows discord’. ‘Dahes’ is also a reference to the Dahes wal-Ghabra period of chaos and warfare between Arab tribes, an era that is famous in the Arab world as one of the precursors of the Muslim age. In other words, Daesh is considered by its sworn enemies as a bunch of fundamentalist thugs that only want to bring chaos and death to the world. A potential leader of the main opposition party in UK should have known this.

Smith should also know what Daesh is capable of. United Nations investigators have found evidence Daesh are committing genocide against the Yazidi minority in Iraq. In 2015, their human rights office published a horrifying report describing killings, torture, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers by the extremists, suggesting they may be guilty of “war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

When Daesh invaded the north of Iraq, they launched a series of systematic and widespread attacks on the Yazidi minority heartland in the northern Nineveh province in August 2014.

Many Yazidi women and girls were sold into sexual slavery or handed over to Daesh members as ‘gifts’. Witnesses described hearing girls as young as six screaming for help as they were raped in a house used by Daesh fighters.

Daesh are not just a murderous medieval cult formed of religious fanatics. They are barbaric murderers who behead journalists, lynch homosexuals and have committed genocide against the Yazidis. They rape and kill to impose their perverted ideology in every single village they have conquered in both Syria and Iraq.

As with the Nazis during WW2, the group believe that civilians must fear the organisation. Which explains why that in every single province occupied by the group, mass murders of civilians, beheading of journalists and killing of homosexuals has occurred.

Therefore, the group is a death cult that uses the killing of civilians as a political weapon against those who dare to fight them. A quick read of their online magazine called Dabiq shows the determination the group has to undertake a war without mercy.  They are crazed militants that will fight to the death. And that’s why it is both dangerous and ludicrous to even suggest that we could negotiate with them.

Daesh is not a victim

Smith should understand that you can only negotiate with people who have political demands arising from an underlying injustice. But you can’t negotiate with people who want to take over the world, kill anyone who doesn’t agree with them or accept their diktat, and who are bound entirely by their specific interpretation of a religious book and who, therefore, are not willing to compromise on any issue.

Obviously, to address the Daesh threat, we need a proper strategy in both UK and their strongholds of Iraq and Syria. Our response to the threat they represent can’t be limited to the military front alone. It must address root causes as well as ideological ones and have a proper media strategy.

Let’s not forget that what feeds this organisation is the racism against Muslims in Europe, the war in Iraq and the destabilisation of the Middle East by western powers. Therefore, we will need a full strategy that tackles racism in UK, while helping the progressive forces that fight on the ground. The Kurds are in need of our help. They need both our political solidarity and weapons to fight the Daesh.

Smith should have known better. Labour should know better. Daesh isn’t a reliable partner worth talking to. The group is formed of a bunch of criminals that must stopped. Any other way of dealing with this issue will end up with more death and misery for all of us.


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