The humanitarian disaster the Yazidi were facing on Mount Sinjar in Iraq in 2014 contains important lessons for military intervention in Syria. One is that in the face of a barbaric desire to torture, enslave and murder to other – this time with Daesh threatening genocide – sometimes force is necessary.
Humanitarian aid to the Yazidi on Mount Sinjar was also necessary, but on its own would merely have led to people being a better fed and warmer before being massacred. Humanitarian aid was needed, but could only work when there was military action too to protect those it was directed at.
Nor was military action in the form of air strikes sufficient. It was the trio of humanitarian aid, forces on the ground and air support which overall saved lives and made a horrendous situation far less bad. That has been in my mind recently during the Liberal Democrat debates over Syria. Anyone uttering with confidence that air strikes never help should bear in mind the lesson of the Mount Sinjar, amongst others.
Which made me wonder what Stop the War make of all this.
The short answer? Conspiracy followed by u-turn and an airbrushing out of their previous views.
For here is what the Internet Archive shows that Stop the War used to say about Mount Sinjar: the idea that huge numbers of Yazidi faced death at the hands of Daesh was “a false story”, “largely mythical”, “a false story of a massive Yazidi crisis” and “a non-existent siege”:
(The answer, by the way, to Stop the War’s question is, amongst others, multiple journalists, with widespread photographic and video evidence, telling the truth.)
And now, when the deaths of between 2,000 and 5,000 Yazidi took place but action ensured tens of thousands of Yazidi were saved from Daesh? Take a look at the same web page as it reads today on the Stop the War site and all that has been airbrushed from the page, without even a tiny note of apology or a little ‘last updated…’ note.
At least Stop the War does now admit there was a “humanitarian crisis facing the Yazidis”. But rather than go on to defend its opposition to the airstrikes which helped to save the Yazidis, or give any alternative plan that would have worked instead of air strikes, instead the page goes on with a long complaint about Israel.