Press release: no bombs on Syria

This article is a translation of "Persverklaring: Geen bommen op Syrië"

In response to the so-called Article 100 letter of the Dutch government, Oorlog is geen Oplossing has issued the following press release: 

Protest Demonstration on 29 January 2016, Dam Square, Amsterdam

The national board of Oorlog is geen Oplossing considers it incomprehensible that the Dutch government today has decided to expand the bombing missions by Dutch F16s conducted since one-and-a-half year over Iraqi territory also to Syria. Exactly today, peace talks between the different parties involved in the war in Syria were about to finally begin, after months of preparations by the UN negotiator, Staffan de Mistura.

However little there is to hope for in these negotiations beforehand, according to Oorlog is geen Oplossing they constitute the only possible road to ending the ever growing and expanding violence in Syria and the wider region. Instead of supporting these peace negotiations, to which its presidency of the EU would only add weight, the Dutch government sends a message that it expects little of the negotiations and seeks a solution for the war in the exercise of even more violence. The decision is therefore a slap in the face of all those who have contributed to the peacemaking effort, including the UN Security Council of which the Netherlands aspires to become a member next year.

With its current deployment of four F16s over Iraq, the Netherlands already belongs to the most active countries engaged in the bombing campaign in the Middle East. Ever since the start of these bombing raids, in October 2014, several parties in the Second Chamber have argued for an expansion of the theatre of operations to Syria, although this would be in violation of international law.

After all, there is neither a Security Council resolution, nor a request by the Syrian government that asks for or agrees to the bombing of Syrian territory. In spite of intensive bombing raids by the international coalition, ISIS in the past year has shown to be capable of conquering new territories and neither has the organisation been pushed back, or hardly so; although defeating of ISIS was the purpose of the operation. Therefore there are good grounds to doubt the effectiveness of the operation, yet during the last one-and-a-half year this has hardly been a topic for debate.

The fact that the effectiveness of the bombing is not mentioned and that the decision to expand it comes at the moment that the peace negotiations are scheduled to begin, makes clear that the real reasons for this decision are not based on developments in the relevant war zone, but in domestic political considerations. We have seen the same also in previous decision-making concerning the deployment of Dutch military personnel. In this case we are dealing with an irrational fear of attacks in Europe by ISIS and the continuing refugee flow. However, the intensification of the fight against ISIS will only work to increase the chances of attacks, the refugee flow, and the fears among the population. The costs are borne by the civilian populations of Syria and Iraq, whilst a most fragile peace process is being jeopardised. War is No Solution!

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