But, beyond the challenge to constitutional government in the UK, it’s worth asking what the aerial attacks on Isis are likely to accomplish. Last year. Parliament authorised air strikes on the terrorist group in Iraq as part of a US-led coalition of attacks. Nearly a year on, little has been achieved, except for the continued suffering of the Iraqi people, at considerable cost to the taxpayer. The value of bombs dropped by British warplanes and drones on Iraq since September has likely exceeded around £20m, according to an analysis by the Independent.
Britain is stepping up its role in the conflict. with a sharp increase in SAS operations, drone missions and RAF strikes announced in July.
Meanwhile, retired US Army General Mike Flynn, a top intelligence official in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says that the drone war is creating more terrorists than it is killing, just as the US-led invasion of Iraq helped create the Islamic State.
This latest phase of the conflict is turning into one of the bloodiest for some time. According to a UN report, some 15,000 civilians had been killed in the sixteen months up to April 2015.
Since January 2014, nearly three million Iraqis have been displaced due to the fighting.
Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the latest offensive against Isis. Reuters report: “As Iraqi forces prepare to try to recapture the city of Falluja, tens of thousands of civilians find themselves trapped between Islamic State militants ready to use them as human shields and a government suspicious of their loyalties.
Iraqi forces have inflicted considerable civilian casualties in Anbar province in recent weeks. Elsewhere, in one notorious incident in July, an Iraqi fighter jet accidentally dropped a bomb over a Baghdad neighbourhood, killing at least 12 people. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/06/iraqi-jet-accidentally-bombs-baghdad-district
Isis’s murderous barbarism is undisputed. In addition to the atrocities perpetrated against civilians for smoking, eating instead of fasting, being of the wrong faith, and so on, there is now evidence that they are engaged in the manufacture of rudimentary chemical weapons. But whether pouring more weaponry into the region will solve anything looks increasingly doubtful.
When Iraqi forces fled Mosul last year without firing a shot, allowing Isis to establish its most significant urban base in the country so far, they left behind a large amount of materiel for the terrorists to make use of. No fewer than 2,300 Humvee armoured vehicles were left to fall into Isis’s hands - a majority of all the Humvees the US has delivered to the Iraqi army. The US taxpayer might just as well be funding Isis directly.
Nor was this an isolated incident. In May, Iraqi army and police ran away from an Isis advance on Ramadi, allowing more valuable American weaponry to fall into the terrorists’ hands.
With the Government gearing up to ask Parliament in the autumn to overturn its 2013 policy and extend its bombing of Isis into Syria, it’s instructive to remember this record of futility in Iraq.