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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned against retaliatory airstrikes in Syria following last week's attacks in Paris. (Photo: Jason/flickr/cc)

In UK, Corbyn Warns Against Cycle of War That Brings "More Mayhem... More Loss'

Labour leader says ISIS can only be defeated through 'political settlement' in Syria

Nadia Prupis

As a wave of French airstrikes targeted the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria overnight and as British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the UK to respond similarly to Friday's attacks in Paris, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Monday warned against a potentially counter-productive military response and said that a political settlement should be the chief priority to end the cycle of violence.

Speaking on ITV1's Lorraine program, Corbyn condemned the "appalling" and "terrible" attacks that killed at least 120 in Paris last week, but added that France's retaliatory bombing of Raqqa, launched Sunday night, was "probably not" going to effect change.

Corbyn's interview aired just as Cameron announced he wanted the UK to carry out its own airstrikes in Syria, but needed additional support from Parliament before holding a vote to authorize such actions.

The Labour leader continued, "The idea has to be surely a political settlement in Syria, but it's very difficult to achieve. We have to be careful. One war doesn't necessarily bring about peace, it often can bring yet more conflicts, more mayhem and more loss."

"Who is arming ISIS, who is providing safe havens for ISIS?" Corbyn said. "To get there you have to ask questions about the arms everyone’s sold in the region, the role of Saudi Arabia in this. I think there are some very big questions and we have to be careful."

Corbyn also criticized Western media for providing extensive coverage of the attacks in Paris while ignoring similar ISIS bombings that took place in Lebanon and Turkey just days and weeks earlier, respectively.

"Likewise, which didn't unfortunately get hardly any publicity, was a bombing in Beirut last week or the killing in Turkey and I think our media needs to be able to report things that happened outside Europe as well as inside Europe," he said. "A life is a life."

Corbyn's comments come as U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with National Security Adviser Susan Rice, held a sideline meeting at the G20 summit in Ankara, Turkey on Sunday to discuss "a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition."

Corbyn elaborated on Monday, "I am not saying sit around the table with ISIS, I am saying bring about a political settlement in Syria which will help then to bring some kind of unity government—technical government—in Syria."

As Common Dreams reported over the weekend, foreign policy experts warned that a retaliatory military response by France or other nations to the attacks in Paris would be counterproductive.

ISIS "is hoping to precipitate a Western ground offensive in Syria that would be as disastrous as the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the very invasion that fed what would become the 'Islamic State'," wrote Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor of Middle East studies at the Paris School of International Affairs at Politico Sunday.

But as Institute for Policy Studies fellow and peace activist Phyllis Bennis explained in an op-ed for The Nation, "wars of vengeance won’t work for France anymore than they worked for the United States."

"Terrorism survives wars; people don’t," she wrote. "We saw the proof of that again...in Paris, and we saw it the day before in Beirut."

"[Y]ou can’t bomb terrorism—you can only bomb people," Bennis continued. "You can bomb cities. Sometimes you might kill a terrorist—but that doesn’t end terrorism; it only encourages more of it."


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