Cameron Overreaches With “70,000” Claim Nobody Believes

From craigmurray.co.uk


Cameron is in serious trouble at Westminster after overreaching himself by the claim that there are 70,000 “moderate rebels” willing to take up the ground war with Isis. Quite literally not one single MP believes him. There are those who believe the lie is justified. But even they know it is a lie.

There is a very interesting parallel here with the claims over Iraqi WMD. The 70,000 figure has again been approved by the Joint Intelligence Committee, with a strong push from MI6. But exactly as with Iraqi WMD, there were strong objections from the less “political” Defence Intelligence, and caveats inserted. As the Head of Defence Intelligence, Major-General Michael Laurie, told the Chilcot Inquiry:

we could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It was clear to me that pressure was being applied to the Joint Intelligence Committee and its drafters. Every fact was managed to make the dossier as strong as possible. The final statements in the dossier reached beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts.”

The truth is the military tends to be much more honest about these matters than the spooks. Rather than make the same mistake again, parliamentarians should be calling Laurie’s successor, Air Marshal Philip Osborn, to ask him the truth about the nature, composition and availability of the 70,000. I happen to know that signals of dissent from Osborn’s staff – quite probably with his blessing – are reaching not just me, but many Tory MPs.

Meantime we can ourselves deconstruct the 70,000 figure and work out the various civil service sleights of hand that produced it. We have Cameron’s written response to the Foreign Affairs Committee in which he sets out his case for war. This document is of course extremely carefully written.

The 70,000 figure is at page 18. It does then give the breakdown of who these 70,000 are.

The very first group listed are the Kurds, and they are indeed the best organised and most numerous group. But there is a trick here – the paper includes them in the 70,000, despite going on to accept that they are not available to fight in Isil territory because it is Arab not Kurdish land. So that already knocks the largest and best contingent out of the 70,000.

Why were the Kurds included in the total when the paper itself acknowledges they are not available?

After that, Cameron is really struggling and the paper becomes vague. The paper talks (p.19) of rebel forces who defended the Syrian-Turkish border near Aleppo from ISIL attack.

This is perfectly true, but their leading fighting component is Jabhat-al-Nusra, an open al-Qaida affiliate. They cannot conceivably be described as moderate, and are armed and equipped by Saudi Arabia. Their principle martial activity is looting and raping in Shia villages. There are in fact about two dozen rebel groups around Aleppo – here is a good snapshot – who often fight each other and for the last few months have been losing ground to Assad forces. They are also a primary target of the Russians. It is simply nonsense that they could march on ISIS in Raqqa.

Cameron’s paper then goes on to reference the southern front of the Free Syrian Army, and paints a rather rose-coloured picture of its military prowess. The Free Syrian army can legitimately be painted as less extremist than other groups, with some important reservations, but nobody has ever assessed the strength of its southern branch at over 10,000 fighters. It is completely pre-occupied with fighting Assad and Hezbollah.

After that, the paper is seriously stuck, and goes on to enumerate policemen, “white helmet” humanitarian workers and even local authority engineering workforces as part of the evidence of the existence of moderate forces. Whether any of these groups is included in that amazing 70,000 total is unclear.

What is clear is that the 70,000 figure does not stand up to thirty seconds scrutiny, and there is no coherent plan whatsoever for ground forces to follow up air attack.

The absence of ground forces was an obvious flaw in Cameron’s bombing plan. For him to try to allay concerns by such a huge and blatant lie may prove to be a very poor tactic. Indeed this is so shockingly bad that not only are many Tories privately saying it is difficult to vote for bombing, even some of the still more right wing Blairites are concerned too.


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22 reasons to stay out of Syria - Christian Voice UK
Nov 30, 2015 9:04 PM

[…] frankly preposterous. In short, they are in the wrong place with the wrong focus. It could well be, as Craig Murray argues, that no-one actually believes Mr Cameron, but few have challenged him on the figure, not even the […]

70,000: the new 45 minutes - Christian Voice UK
Nov 30, 2015 8:48 PM

[…] 70,000 are nowhere near Raqqa which is also far from the extreme north of Syria where the Kurds are based.  And on that subject, the Kurdish forces are allied to the Kurdish Peoples’ Party, the PKK, […]

Nov 30, 2015 5:31 PM

I would not visit, live or be in London this year.
It will be the first city destroyed by a thermonuclear weapon.
The British have been organizing wars for profit for over 200 years now.
The London bankers.
The grim reaper might collect the outstanding bill soon.
Many will die that deserve life, some will live that deserve death.
A mega death of bankers in London.

Nov 29, 2015 6:56 PM

The 70,000 claim by the deluded PM is shocking in its gratuitous attempt to get ‘any’ MPs to vote for his war mongering agenda! As Christmas approaches, you know that time of Peace on Earth and Goodwill……, I fear the spectre at the feat will be Anthony Eden ( he of the Suez crisis when I was a child) with the message “enjoy the feast , it may be your last”!

Nov 27, 2015 3:17 PM

If America orders Cameron to bomb, he’ll bomb. He’s like Mussolini in relation to Hitler, post 1939. Obama’s wars are his wars, whether he likes it or not.

James Willsher
James Willsher
Nov 27, 2015 2:29 PM

Michael Stephens of the Royal United Services Institute also questioned the 70,000 figure last night in a Parliament committee room during an event about the Kurdistan Regional Government’s fight against ISIS: http://pgreporter.com/2015/11/27/collapsing-kurdistan-government-a-greater-risk-than-isis-parliament-hears/

Nov 27, 2015 12:39 AM

I bet there are a lot of MPs especially among the “Conservative Friends of Israel” who believe whatever David Cameron would say. We have our own Canadian Zionist hag, former PM Stephen Harper, who never stopped telling us that criticism of Israel is “old-fashioned” antisemitism.

In December 2011, David Cameron called Somali, “the greatest threat to United Kingdom.”


Nov 27, 2015 12:34 AM

Reblogged this on Siem Reap Mirror.

Amer Hudson
Amer Hudson
Nov 26, 2015 11:31 PM

The Guardian have had it in for Jezza, primarily because of his support for Palestine, since day one. Even during his election.

First it was Jezbollah and anti-semite, when that caused a backlash, they stopped going down that particular avenue but instead decided to voice the Blairite wing of the party as self-styled moderates. Along with every wet Wednesday in Scunthorpe columnist having a cheap shot. All of this approved at their North London hovel up to, and including , the editor. Or so it seems.

Their Neo-Con support for yet more Mid-East bombing comes as little surprise. Their political, Russia and ‘international’ columnists are, largely, just more of the same. The Guardian really isn’t a centrist (let alone left-leaning) newspaper at all. It’s establishment, transatlantic, and free-market in attitude. It’s part of the problem.

Nov 26, 2015 9:55 PM

Seriously this is like Peter Mandelson is writing Guardian press releases now

Nov 26, 2015 9:29 PM

Patrick Wind-tour is spreading his poison over at the guardian. And the idiots in the Labour Party think that a war on Syria is the time to strike –