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Middle East violence affecting us all

Stephen Oreilly

ONCE AGAIN violence in the Middle East has become the centre of confrontation involving the world's major powers.

Just over a week ago reports started to emanate from the city of Douma that indicated the use of a chemical weapon against civilians in the area held by rebels opposed to the government of President Bashar Assad.

Dozens of people were reportedly killed by this attack with many more suffering from the effects of whatever agent was used. Almost immediately the Assad regime was blamed for the outrage and western nations began speaking of retaliation.

That expected military action finally took place n Saturday which forces from the United States of America, France and Great Britain launching missile strikes. The reported targets were all claimed to be part of the chemical weapons machinery available to Assad's regime.

This action has split opinion, particularly in Britain. Many politicians are angry that Theresa May's government committed the country to military action without any discussion taking place in Westminster on the matter.

Mrs May is expected to report to the Commons today on various aspects of the situation. It will be particularly interesting to see if she presents definitive evidence on the origin of the chemical attack given the denials issued by the Assad regime and his Russian allies.

However, whatever is said in the British houses of parliament today, there will remain the danger of an escalating situation putting Russia and prominent western powers into an even more tense confrontation.

Despite the 'mission accomplished' message of President Trump, the evidence of various Middle East crises over the decades, virtually since the end of the second world war, is that one military operation does not usually accomplish all that much.

When George W Bush was associated with a similar declaration after a full blown war against Iraq, American and other coalition forces were tied down in the country fighting an insurgency organised by pro-Saddam Hussein forces within the country.

The complex political situation in the Middle Eastern region has led to myriad wars right from 1967 until the present day. It is probably impossible to count the number of people who have been displaced by these conflicts, never mind estimating death and injury toll.

These wars have led in large part to a huge movement of people from the Middle East and other areas of the African continent towards Europe, increasing support for far right parties and movements opposed to welcoming these people into their countries.

The best solution to all these problems would be helping to establish peace in the region, a peace which would make chemical attacks, retaliation for those attacks and the suffering of many millions of people a thing of the past.

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