Will the Netherlands too start bombing in Syria?

This article is a translation of "Gaat Nederland bombarderen in Syrië?"

Don’t do it! Militarily it means nothing, because the Dutch F-16s over there (four in all), which currently are being planned in for raids over Iraq, will then also take turns in bombing raids at targets in Syria. The result, more destruction, more human suffering. That is all.

Politically however it is a giant leap.

For now that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Bahrain have suspended their participation in the military operations against ISIS and only Turkey as a (majority) Islamic country still participates in the coalition under American leadership, ‘our’ air war against ISIS has become a Western war against the Arab world and Islam. The Netherlands too would join that fight.

Once again: we, the West, have set the Middle East and North Africa on fire, in order to destroy the states which after the collapse of the Soviet bloc persisted in an independent policy, such as Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

It worked.

In the chaos that was created as a result, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies, as well as the AKP’s Turkey, have financed the Sunni jihad, in close cooperation with the American secret services, CIA and DIA, and the British MI6. The Arab jihadists which were driven out of Afghanistan by the American invasion in 2001, in their hundreds according to some, in their thousands according to others, thanks to the wars waged by the West have grown into an army of more than one hundred thousand.

That army is fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Libya as al-Qaeda and ISIS, and has branched out to groups in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Niger, and commits terror attacks. Those in Paris will not be the last, because there are millions of youngsters with a Muslim and/or Arab background in Europe.

Most are not politically motivated and are at school or work. But many hundreds of thousands have been marginalised and hang around in pauperised suburbs. Even in rich, relatively well organised Holland, we read in the paper a few days ago, there are 134 thousand youngsters who are ‘missing’, that is, they don’t work, don’t go to school, and have no benefits. They live from one day (night) to the next. In Amsterdam alone there are more than 16 thousands of them, of course majority ‘foreigners’.

In an economy that sinks ever deeper into the crisis, and continues stubbornly with its austerity policy, all kinds of things are needed, but NOT that we step up the war against Islam.

What is needed instead is a major effort in education, revival of the public sector to generate work and income and future, you name it. But when we think back of prime minister Rutte’s statement that it would actually be best if the youngsters who want to join the jihad in Syria, would also be killed there, it is obvious that cannot expect much from those who govern us in the way of a positive contribution.

Instead we continue to close our eyes for the responsibility of the West, the role of our allies on the Arab Peninsula and in Ankara, or the role of Israel. Defence secretary Hennis and the commander of the Dutch armed forces, Middendorp, cannot wait to open the bomb vaults and throw us too into the orgy of destruction that has already caused so much death and destruction and grief. The British bombers that took off from Cyprus immediately after the sad decision of the House of Commons on 2 December, attacked targets where civilians died simply because they had the bad luck of living or working where the jihad against Assad holds out. What the term ‘civilian’ means in this connection was underlined one again by the terrible incident in a village near the ISIS ‘capital’, Raqqa. That this was apparently caused by a Russian bombing raid is a reminder that their air attacks too kill innocent people—and yet contribute little militarily speaking.

What remains of the almost forgotten Dutch tradition in international law, why not a visionary initiative to bring together the warring parties? Is this what happens when an entire social order sinks into crisis, when those in government have nothing else to offer but bombs and repression, and we just keep on marching in step towards the abyss? 

Kees van der Pijl

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