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Time to Negotiate with Islamists in Syria: UK Labour Leader

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The UK must push for a “negotiated settlement” for the Syrian Civil War, said Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn. He drew criticism saying he supported negotiations with the Islamic State.

“The dreadful Paris attacks make the case for a far more urgent effort to reach a negotiated settlement of the civil war in Syria and the end to the threat from Isis,” he told activists at a regional party conference in Bristol.

He did not elaborate on how negotiations could end the threat from ISIS.

Regardless of the extreme difficulty of a peace settlement being agreed upon at this point, negotiations in the Syrian Civil War would involve a bevy of Islamist factions including the Islamic Front, widely seen as backed by Saudi Arabia and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s regional affiliate in Syria.

All Islamist armed factions seek to establish an Islamic State of one sort or another in Syria, including establishing sharia courts to mete out justice.

Yet Corbyn seems to have no problem involving such groups in a “negotiated settlement.” This is despite the West’s previous experiences in supporting and working with al-Qaeda in the 1980s when the group fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

After the Soviets were defeated, al-Qaeda turned its guns on the West.

Ultimately al-Qaeda’s goals are not those of the West and negotiations with them will never convince them to change their core ideology.  

This news comes following his opposition to the drone strike which killed Islamic State executioner Jihadi John, saying he should have been arrested and his opposition to the “shoot to kill” policy which British police are to implement in the event of a terrorist attack. He later reversed his position on shoot to kill.

“The first duty of any elected representative, not just ministers, is to do all we can to ensure the security of our constituents, particularly in the face of the terrorist threat we are facing,” critiqued former Labour leadership candidate Chuka Ummuna.

“This goes above and beyond party politics, and dare I say it internal party politics. Because if you cannot keep the people safe in their eyes, that is a disqualification from office.”

In September UK Prime Minister David Cameron called Jeremy Corbyn a “national security threat.” His public positions on issues relating to Islamist extremism are doing nothing to undermine that accusation.

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to the BBC's political editor after the Paris attacks:

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org