Hours after MPs voted for air strikes in Syria on 2 December, RAF jets carried out their first raids. The strikes are said to have targeted Daesh-controlled oil fields and military installations.
Russia, which has been bombing in Syria since 30 September, has made strikes in the biggest Daesh-controlled city, Raqqa, which may have killed up to 30 civilians in a single raid. There is little evidence that Russia’s targets were well chosen.
The Guardian has quoted a spokesperson for the anti-Assad “Free Syria Army” (which Cameron touts as a coherent and “moderate” anti-Assad force to defeat Daesh) as dismissing the British intervention as “just a few more jets.”
US, Russian, French, British, and other air strikes may have hit Daesh economic infrastructure, but there is no evidence that they are anywhere near defeating Daesh.
Defeating Daesh requires a force on the ground capable of winning Sunni-Muslim Arabs to fight it actively. The Kurdish forces in northern Syria, which deserve our support for their struggle for their national rights, cannot do this.
An assertive workers’ movement in the region could do it, but the US, UK, French, tied into alliances with Turkey and the Gulf States and uneasy cooperation with Russia, cannot. Their bombing raids, designed to show that the governments are “doing something”, will at best help rival Sunni-sectarian groups against Daesh and may actually help build the base for sectarian Islamism through their inevitable civilian casualties.
Documents recently passed to the Guardian (7 December) show Daesh’s plans for its “caliphate”, which stretches across the Syria-Iraq border.
The document begins by stating that, “The state requires an Islamic system of life, a Qur’anic constitution and a system to implement it.”
Right from the start, Daesh banned table football, billiards, and the keeping of pigeons, and much women’s clothing too.
The documents suggest that Daesh can get up to $8m per month in state revenues, making them far less reliant on foreign donations than groups like Al Qaeda and Al-Shabab, though still poorer than even a small “normal” state.
Taxes generate 23.7% of Daesh income, oil and gas sales 27.7%, and confiscations of banned items, mostly tobacco, 45%.
Of those revenues, Daesh spends 63.5% on soldiers’ salaries and military bases, and only 17.7% was used for public services.
Daesh enshrines private property in its rules and “privatises” infrastructure projects.
It tries to control the people it rules by a combination of carrot and stick: a ban on private Wifi, increased checkpoints, and the requirement for those who have been previously associated with “enemies of the caliphate” to register themselves, together with $100 prizes for excellence in religious studies, and “free passes to an amusement park and its newly renovated five-star hotel in Mosul”.
• For Workers’ Liberty statement on Syria bit.ly/1ONRzCE
• Tubeworker’s response to the attacks in Leytonstone: bit.ly/1YWIwSF