We were shocked last night to hear about the terrorist attack in London. For the families and friends of the people who were out enjoying a night on the town, the world must have stood still today, numbed as they will be. It’s almost impossible to imagine how it feels to lose someone close to you for absolutely no logical reason whatsoever.
And it doesn’t matter whether you’re English, French, Lebanese, Iraqi, Afghan, or indeed from Ouagadougou, which also suffered a terrorist attack in 2016.
What follows may seem a little naive. I’m not at all certain that I’ve thought it through all the way, but this is how I see the situation.
Terrorists and terrorism exist where people can find no democratic solution to their situation. And when people sit down and talk with terrorists, at least sometimes, solutions can be found. Ex-terrorists can become statesmen like Yasser Arafat, Martin McGuinness or even Nelson Mandela.
Somehow we need to find a way to sit down with the leaders of ISIS and try to discover what we can do to stop this carnage all over the world. What is it they want?
However, if we thought that the obstacles to peace were big in Palestine, Ireland and South Africa, I suspect that the problems of the Near and Middle East will be even more so.
It will take great leadership and diplomacy for it to happen and at the moment I see few leaders in the world with that kind of skill. I’d like to think that from the worldwide point of view President Macron, Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau might be able to make a start, but it will need full time, clever diplomats who understand the complexities of the Middle East. And no one can do that unless they come from that region. Prince Hassan and King Abdullah of Jordan are names that come to mind, but they already have jobs, and in any case we need more than two.
Of course, people will say that it cannot be done, and they may be right. Maybe what ISIS wants is the whole of the Middle East to be ruled as one great Islamic Caliphate, ignoring modernity and democracy returning to Islamic law. ASnd for the millions that don’t want that, that is never ging to be the answer. But what is the alternative to dialogue? Trump wants to smash ISIS, just as Bush and Blair wanted to smash the Taliban and Sadam, and Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy wanted to smash Gaddafi.
And look how well that worked.
It is said that ISIS is funded by its sale of oil. So who is buying this oil and why? Can we stop them doing so? If so, how? But ISIS is also being equipped with weapons. And the suspicion is that Saudi Arabia is their source, as a report commissioned by David Cameron will show… or it would have if it were to be published.
But Saudi Arabia doesn’t manufacture its own weapons; they must be bought in. And who sells weapons to Saudi Arabia? Well the UK and the US come to mind.
The UK and Saudi are best buddies. Their monarchs and royals mix. And prime ministers throw themselves at a regime which beheads people for fornication, burglary, blasphemy, sodomy, atheism and a whole range of other crimes. It must be because they are rich, and Brits love rich folk, especially when they buy billions of dollars worth of arms from us.
But you have to ask yourself, why does Saudi Arabia need all these arms… and it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable to suggest that they don’t. After all, apart from doing a power of bombing recently in Yemen, Saudi doesn’t much go to war. As Boris Johnson pointed out, it simply stirs up wars.
I realise that the UK desperately needs the sales and that there is a deal of ignorance about what happens to them once they have left the UK with the money safely in the bank. But maybe the Brits need to think carefully now that the organisation that is funded and weaponised by our friends the Saudis is wreaking so much havoc at home.
Well, Mrs May… or maybe now Mr Corbyn. It’s up to you.
On a lighter note, great concert in Manchester tonight. Massive acts turning up and showing their support. And some very plucky people in London last night throwing glasses and chairs and tables at the murders….and running down the road with their pint glasses still in their hands…