Thursday, 22 July 2010

Letter to the Birmingham Mail

Earlier this week I sent a short letter to the Birmingham Mail about the deaths of two Midlands soldiers in Afghanistan. Since then another two soldiers have been killed in what was hitherto regarded as the safer district of Lashkar Gah in Helmand.

The call for a dramatic change of strategy in Afghanistan is getting louder. The Guardian had a particularly strong editorial on Tuesday: 'While our armies continue to fight there, we provide the Taliban with a glue more binding on the disparate groups and clan loyalities comprising this insurgency, than Pashtun nationalism and supra-ethnic Islamism combined...The presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is their central rallying cause. Put more troops in, and their determination to fight becomes all the stronger.'

My letter to the Mail is below.

Last weekend two Midlands soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan. The deaths of Marine Jonathan Crookes and Staff Sergeant Brett Linley are a tragic reminder of the human cost of this war. Their deaths coincide with a new and damning report from the highly respected NGO Security Office (ANSO) which says that NATO policy is actually strengthening the Taliban.

NATO is now admitting that it will have to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014. But why should we wait until then? A majority of the British public want the troops out well before that. Why should more people die just to save the face of politicians who gave them this impossible mission?

There is nothing noble or patriotic about staying silent while the lives of our young men and women are being needlessly lost in a war that will have only one outcome: the withdrawal of NATO forces and peace negotiations between all sides. The sooner our troops leave, the sooner the inevitable peace deal can be negotiated.

Councillor Salma Yaqoob
Chair, Birmingham Stop the War Coalition