The Scottish National Party, under Alex Salmond, has long been associated with opposition to illegal and immoral wars. Salmond was one of the few MPs who opposed the bombing of Serbia, and campaigned actively against the invasion of Iraq, subsequently supporting Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price in his attempt to impeach Tony Blair. Like Jeremy Corbyn he has been responding to the publication of the Chilcot report; like Jeremy Corbyn he is calling for Blair to be charged with war crimes.
What exactly is the position of the Scottish National Party with regard to global peace and justice?
The foremost objective of the Scottish National Party is Scottish independence. Beyond that, it has been obliged to position itself as the centre-left party of Scotland, there being scarcely room on the right along with Labour and the Tories, and espouses certain left-wing causes such as the question of upgrading Britain’s nuclear missile system, Trident. However a commitment to Scottish independence and opposition to nuclear weapons do not in themselves add up to an ethical view on global affairs.
Despite Salmond’s stance on Iraq, the SNP, with Salmond as party leader, voted with the Government and Labour Opposition to bomb Libya in 2011. It should be noted that both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell voted against the motion, along with 11 other MPs. The reasons given for their No vote are varied and convincing. That of Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, went :’Given the West’s colonial past, its history of adventurism and support for dictatorship in the region, its failure to enforce UN resolutions in Palestine and the legacy of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I think its motives in Libya will always be in doubt.’ Quite so.
The SNP clearly did not see it that way. As Steve James puts it:
Since coming to power in Edinburgh in 2007, the [SNP] has repeatedly made clear it is willing to support British military actions, particularly if a UN flag is flying over the slaughter of the day—including in Libya. […] The SNP has repeatedly made clear that they support NATO, the European Union, a struggle against Russia, and increased spending on frigates, fast jets and long-range reconnaissance aircraft.
The SNP’s line on Syria could be seen as being consistent with its position on Iraq, in that it opposed the overt bombing of the country (ostensibly ISIS in Syria) in December, 2015. When talking to the press after the vote was passed Salmond made a lot of sense (as he usually does), pointing out the lack of a proper strategy to deal with Islamic State.
However the elephant present in the chamber when the bombing of Syria was debated was the UK government’s known support for the extremist militants fighting the legitimate government in Syria, see here and here. Neither Salmond’s statement on the ‘bomb Syria’ vote nor Nicola Sturgeon’s contain any proposal for the obvious moral alternative, to stop supporting armed extremists, mostly imported, and instead help the Syrian people fight these terrorists. There is nothing said by either politician to suggest that the SNP does not support in principle the proxy war on Syria and enforced regime change.
It is obvious to all and sundry that there is a gross contradiction between the West’s claims to see terrorism and the growth of ISIS as a major threat, while in real terms prioritising the overthrow of the Syrian government who is actually fighting them on the ground. By not pressing the UK government and the EU to actually help the Syrian people fight jihadi extremists, instead of providing those same extemists with moral and material support, the SNP has shown itself to be just as compromised as the Labor and Conservative parties.
The Yinon Plan
Many active users of social media who follow global events will be familiar with General Wesley Clark’s revelation in 2007 about the US plan, after having already invaded Afghanistan, to take out 7 further countries in 5 years. It was made known to Wesley Clark a couple of weeks after 9/11 that the US planned to invade Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finally Iran.
Likewise, many people will be familiar with Oded Yinon’s ‘Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties’, a proposal to further Israel’s interests by destabilising the whole of the Middle East . The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power,and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states.
The objectives of the proposal articulated by Wesley Clark clearly further those of the second premise of the Yinon Plan. Furthermore, leaked documents (such as Clinton’s emails) confirm that Israel’s interests are paramount for US foreign policy. The same documents show that the decision to take out Syria had been made at least by 2006, but probably much earlier.
Given the catastrophic progression of wars from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya to Syria, all strongly promoted and either actively waged or heavily sponsored by the West, Israel and their ally Saudi Arabia, there is no moral or intellectual justification for seeing these wars as anything but a cold-blooded plan to destabilise the greater Middle East and fulfill the Yinon Plan.
There is little in the actions of the SNP (and many of their supporters) to suggest that they are do not support in principle this path of destruction. Nicola Sturgeon declared her unequivocal support for the Israel lobby by putting on a blue nose to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, which translates as something like ‘Destroy Palestine Day’.
Support for Israel, and for the Israel-backed programme of regime change in the Middle East, is a thread that runs through the Scottish independence movement.
The main Scottish ‘leftist’ pro-independence blogs, while they probably opposed the Iraq war, have abandoned any pretense at a moral perspective when it comes to global affairs. Rev. Stuart Campbell, the editor of Wings over Scotland and a strong supporter of the SNP, has wisely avoided commenting on issues such as the Syria conflict, focusing on what he knows best, i.e. Scottish affairs. However Campbell forms a mutual admiration society with one Stephen Daisley, a journalist with STV News who has been termed a ‘hate-filled and crazed right-winger’ by ex-UK ambassador Craig Murray. Daisley authored a quite extraordinary article attacking those who criticise Israel, which fully justifies Murray’s categorisation, offering such objective analysis as, ‘Why deny the Holocaust when you can throw it back in the Jews’ faces by fictionalising Gaza as a concentration camp? Why hurl rocks at a Jew in the street when you can hurl endless vexatious UN resolutions at Israel?’
Daisley’s article was published 24 August 2015. On the same day Wings over Scotland tweeted (not, I hasten to add, in reference to Daisley’s article, but also not for the first time)
Daisley promoted Wings over Scotland’s crowd fundraiser in February 2015, while until late last year his blog was listed among the suggested links on Wings over Scotland’s Home Page.
The other major pro-indy blog, Bella Caledonia, which has been praised by such notable Scots as Irvine Welsh, has come out strongly in support for enforced regime change in Syria, posting, for example, an article What is to be Done about Syria by determined propagandist for the ‘revolution’, Mohammed Idrees Ahmed. To be fair to Scotland, the article attracted a number of negative (or appalled) comments, but editor Mike Small responded to criticism by digging himself into an ever deeper hole, and disappointed readers were left in no doubt of his support for illicit regime change in Syria.
It is widely assumed that the next country in the sights of the NATO/Israel alliance will be Iran (although with all the recent sabre-rattling about Russia, one could be forgiven for thinking that country may be next in the firing line). It has also been widely assumed that the progression to war on Iran, either through direct military intervention or via a bogus revolution on the Syria model, is impeded by the failure so far to achieve a resolution in Syria that satisfies the NATO/Israel alliance, and that the ‘West’ will not move its attentions to Syria until the Syrian situation is resolved.
Quite how long Iran is safe from the predatory NATO/Israel alliance is hard to say. But those wanting to move against Iran sooner rather than later met in Paris on 9-10 July 2016, at a rally called Free Iran: Our Pledge Regime Change. This is an annual event convened by the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), more commonly known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq or MEK, which was until 2012 on the US prescribed terrorist list. Daniel Larison in the hardly left-wing American Conservative described MEK in less than glowing terms.
… the MEK is probably best-known for its role fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war against their own country. That is one of the chief reasons why the group is still loathed by almost all Iranians in Iran and around the world. The idea that this group speaks for dissident Iranians is nonsensical and insulting to the latter, and the fantasy that such an abusive, totalitarian cult has any interest in the freedom of Iranians is laughable even by Washington’s low standards.
The touted 100,000 participants included a number of politicians and other dignitaries such Prince Turki al-Faisal, ex-intelligence chief from Saudi Arabia, who talked of the importance of overthrowing an oppressive regime, but obviously could not go too deeply into the question of human rights, and Newt Gingrich, a potential running mate for Donald Trump.
It is well known that the MEK has close ties with pro-Israel lobby groups , so perhaps it should not surprise that convenor Maryam Rajavi paid a special tribute to Elie Wiesel, who won a Nobel Prize for his book on his holocaust experience. Now Elie Wiesel is considered by all except the most hardened Zionists as a fraud and a hypocrite, and certainly nothing like the great messenger for humanity described by Rajavi. Again, it is difficult to see such concern for the priorities of the Israel lobby resonating with the people of Iran.
The sentiments of the conference are also supported by a number of Anglican bishops. This episcopal empathy with Iranian Christians might inspire more conviction if the same had been shown for Syrian Christians. However a Google search for such an outpouring of compassion found only an article in the very unlikely Spectator, asking that Cameron Should Listen to Syrian Bishops Not the Anglican Ones. My search for “UK Bishops grateful to Hezbollah for protecting Syrian Christians” was no more successful.
Very proud to be sharing a platform with such august company as Prince Turki al-Faisal and Newt Gingrich were three MPs from the Scottish National Party:
Despite all these years of bloody war in the greater Middle East, the implications of attending a conference dedicated to regime change were clearly lost on the SNP representatives.
The PMOI/MEK have an unsavoury reputation as terrorists and manipulators. The rally itself was a blatant display of hypocrisy of the highest order, with participants giving standing ovations to Turki al-Faisal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as he lectured on oppressive regimes. His hostess Maryam Rajavi, who aspired to ‘win the hearts and minds of the Iranian diaspora’, stood on the same platform as al-Faisal and spoke of Iran as the source of terrorism and extremism, completely disregarding the fact that Iran (unlike Saudi Arabia) support no terrorist groups, but the legitimate government of Syria. Participation in such an event does the organisations that the delegates represent no favours.
Anyone who puts too much trust in the integrity and consistency of politicians is headed for disappointment. But for the Scottish National Party to allow three of its MPS to be associated with an organisation and event of such ill repute is an exceptional display of poor judgement, quite apart from what this says about the party’s values.
It is likely that when the decision is made to go for Iran, the NATO/Israel alliance will go for the more deniable ‘revolution’ option, though they will be hoping for more credible partners than the MEK. The chances of such an organisation ever managing to acquire credibility as an Iranian opposition within Iran are minimal. However the case of Syria has shown that as long as their governments are not actually invading or bombing, the British and American publics are quite happy to put up with blatant hypocrisy and hardly less blatant support for murderous extremists.
Whatever method is chosen to wipe out Iran, we needn’t look to the Scottish National Party to stand in the way.