By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) – The leader of Britain’s Labour Party says there is a strong need for a political solution in Syria as military action raises the specter of a new Cold War.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is right to warn of the dangers of the new Cold War, said Jeremy Corbyn, speaking to Anadolu Agency during an event Friday organized by the Muslim Council of Britain.
Corbyn said he was “very interested” when Guterres said last week that he was “very concerned we are moving into a new Cold War era”.
“He [Guterres] said that with good reason because it had been a deadlock the night before in the UN Security Council between Russia and Britain, the U.S. and France over Syria and the chemical weapons,” Corbyn said.
He said the issue should have been taken to the general assembly, but it wasn’t.
On April 7, Douma district in Eastern Ghouta, a sprawling suburb of Damascus, was hit by a suspected chemical attack that left at least 78 civilians dead, according to the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets.
On April 10, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it would deploy a fact-finding team to investigate the attack.
The U.S., UK and France jointly launched retaliatory strikes on April 13 targeting the Assad regime's chemical weapons capabilities.
Corbyn said the incident “really points to the need for a political solution in Syria”.
“It requires Russia, the U.S., Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan to come together with the EU countries as well to promote a meaningful peace process,” he said.
“Four hundred thousand people died in the Syrian war already. Millions are either internal refugees or in exile and the horror goes on, the poverty goes on and the hunger goes on.
“There has to be a peace process, and it can only be achieved if the big powers come together.”
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.
“So Antonio Guterres is right to warn of the dangers of the new Cold War. It is up to us to listen to him. He is the secretary-general of the United Nations.”
– Rise of racism
Meanwhile, Corbyn said “there has been a frightening rise of far-right racism, of Islamophobia, of anti-Semitism across Europe”.
He said in Britain, there has also been a rise in racism and a rise in attacks on mosques and synagogues as well.
Islamophobic incidents in the U.K. have seen a spike since the deadly terrorist attacks in Manchester and London Bridge, according to security officials.
“We have to have a society where we recognize the values of all of us and recognize the massive contribution made by the Muslim community in Britain to our community, to our society and the role the mosques play in bringing the whole community together, supporting that community and in particular helping the young people,” Corbyn said.
“But it also means looking at issues of education, of employment, of jobs, of training and of opportunities and the rise of Islamophobia, particularly since the Brexit referendum in 2016, which has led to the rise of random attacks and criticisms of people.”
According to data from British police, 110 hate crimes directed at mosques were recorded between March and July last year, up from just 47 over the same period in 2016.
According to the figures, the northern city of Manchester has seen one of the biggest year-on-year increases in mosque attacks, with nine incidents compared with none previously.
London mosques were targeted 17 times in the same period compared with eight previously, another sharp rise.
Threats, harassment and examples of other intimidating behavior more than tripled from 14 crimes in 2016 to 49 in 2017, according to the data.
“I am tonight at the Muslim Council of Britain to show my support with the community as indeed I have always been pleased to work with the Muslim community in my own constituency,” Corbyn said.
“An integral part of British life — that’s the message we should give out. The integral part of British life, of our society and our community,” he added.
“The lesson is, if you tolerate any form of racism, it gets worse. If you show zero tolerance to any form of racism, eventually we drive it away and bring up our young people to work with and respect each other.”