Tag Archives: Syria


As President Trump is widely condemned, both at home and abroad, for withdrawing US Troops from Syria ahead of a Turkish offensive, LUCY FISHER reports for The Times that ‘Hundreds of British special forces soldiers will be pulled out of Syria‘ as part of the withdrawal.
According to The Times source: ‘The elite troops rely on the US military for resources, transport, intelligence, surveillance and other logistical assistance and will be unable to operate in Syria if Mr Trump orders a withdrawal‘.
It highlights just how dependent UK Special Forces have become in recent times on the US. This is a relatively recent and worrying development. In Gulf War 1 the SAS operated deep behind Iraqi lines without the need to rely on the Pentagon.
In effect we have subordinated our Special Forces – considered a strategic asset – to a US command, US values and culture, US modus operandi and US rules of engagement, all of which are very different to our own.
Add to this the absence of any UK oversight protocols and a complete lack of visibility and accountability and we have a situation where UK Special Forces have become little more than a (deniable) instrument of US foreign policy.
This is not in our national interest and while it may curry favour in the US (although not enough to waive diplomatic immunity) it diminishes our international reputation and standing.
More worrying still it means we have lost control of our foreign policy and can only cling, however reluctantly, to President Trump’s coattails. It is little wonder that the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Defence have declined to comment on the situation.

Grim Reaper gets a makeover

The Guardian reports that, according to the United Nations, ‘an international drone’ (which only the US military operate) has killed at least 15 civilians and injured another 13 in the eastern district of Achin, Afghanistan. The US has not admitted any wrongdoing but said the incident was under investigation.

Bilal, 12 recovers in hospital after surviving a US drone strike that killed his father. Photo: Andrew Quilty

Earlier this year, Britain signed a £415 million contract with the Pentagon for 20 new ‘Protector’ drones. Described as a ‘signature counter-terrorism weapon’, drones have proved tactically effective in the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria where the RAF’s Reaper drones have flown hundreds of sorties.

Strategically the increasing reliance on drones is less certain. In 2009, General Stanley McChrystal observed that ‘Destroying a home or property jeopardises the livelihood of an entire family  – and creates more insurgents’. Multiply this ten fold or a hundred fold when drones kill innocent civilians.

Although the new drone will carry a greater payload of deadly Hellfire missiles, UK Defence Chiefs decided to drop the name Reaper in favour of Protector in an attempt to change public perceptions that they are unaccountable killing machines.

Try explaining that to the citizens of Achin.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.




What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA 

Innocence Lost

The moving image of a five year old Syrian boy, Omran Daqneesh, sitting bloodied and dazed in the back of an ambulance has been widely circulated on social media. It highlights the desperate plight of the citizens of Aleppo, caught in the crossfire of an increasingly violent and vicious civil war.

The image has been compared with that of Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Bodrum beach and has renewed calls for the West to do something to stop the bloodshed. But the question is what?

Migrant boat accident in Turkey

Images of children wounded in NATO airstrikes resulted in widespread condemnation for the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which have proved disastrous for the citizens of those countries.

Injured Afghan boy

Painful images of innocence painfully lost have communicated the horrors of war in a way that words could never describe since Vietnam. Despite having witnessed lost innocence firsthand in the Balkans in the 1990s, I was still moved to tears in 2004 by the image of a bloodied Aida Sidakova climbing through the window of her school gymnasium in search of her mum following the Beslan school bombing by Islamist terrorists.

Beslan School Massacre

Our reaction to these images is instinctive and transcends religious or cultural divides but sadly does not endure. Tomorrow, or the next day, we will return to our lives of comfortable consumerism and forget about the difficult question of what to do in Aleppo – at least until the next image of innocence lost pricks our conscience.

Vietnam napalm girl