Jeremy Corbyn was attacked in the press last week for his refusal to talk about Syria at a press conference. He said he would address the issue in other interviews. Though the outrage was faux, Corbyn’s stance on Syria, and indeed Labour’s as a whole, is contradictory, unclear and tainted with the Stalinist complaisance towards Assad that infects the “anti-war movement”.
In response to the US airstrikes and Boris Johnson’s commitment to help the US with further strikes, without a vote in Parliament, Corbyn called for a political solution:
“Let’s get the Geneva process going quickly.”
“In the meantime, no more strikes. Have the UN investigation into the war crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and take it on from there.”
“I want us to say ‘Listen, let’s get people around the table quickly’. A way of achieving that — suspend the strikes? Possibly. The point has to be to bring about a political solution.”
Corbyn is not a defender of Daesh, as some of his opponents claim, but he shares a weakness of much of the anti-war movement in refusing to explicitly condemn Assad and to recognise that the regime is directly responsible for attacks against its own citizens including with chemical weapons.
Corbyn has previously expressed support for Kurdish self-determination and spoken out against UK arms sales to Saudia Arabia, something that will now apparently be a part of Labour’s manifesto. That’s good. He must however be clear that Assad, Russia and Iran are the primary reason for millions of displaced people and hundreds of thousands of Syrian dead.