Anarchy in the UK: Brexit on the brink

Boris Johnson is determined to push the UK out of the EU at any cost. But he will have to face the electorate first

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

The Brexit saga rumbles on. The UK is still scheduled to leave the European Union on the 31st of October, with or without a deal. At this point, a no deal Brexit remains a high likelihood, with all of the uncertainty it would bring with it. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had sought to call for a snap election, which would have been held in mid-October, just a fortnight shy of the deadline. An election would have helped to “reset” Westminster, and provided clarity on who the British public wish to represent them. However, this does not mean that it will provide a solid majority for the next Prime Minister, be it Johnson or Labour leader Corbyn, to push forward with Brexit in any shape or form.

However, this was not to be. Westminster has shot down any chance of an early election, given that it must pass through Parliament with a two-thirds majority. This leaves Johnson quite powerless, given that he must now find a deal that satisfies Parliament before the October 31st deadline – or be forced to ask the EU for another extension to January 31st 2020, which the EU is not guaranteed to accept.

PM Johnson has shown his displeasure at recent developments, often sniping at his opponents in Parliament in a manner which illustrates just how powerless he feels at present.

He may seek to push through a new deal with the EU, but there is simply no time to do so, and the EU is not likely to change its stance of not renegotiating the original Brexit deal reached with his predecessor. The only realistic options on the table at this point are a no deal Brexit, or accepting the Withdrawal Agreement. The revocation of Article 50 remains off the cards. An extension would be politically damaging for Johnson, and would face stiff opposition from the French-led group in the EU which opposed the latest extension in the first place.

Boris Johnson has his work cut out for him. Political anarchy continues to reign in the UK.

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In Afghanistan, negotiators for the United States and the Taliban are reportedly close to a peace deal, that would see US forces begin to withdraw from the country, and the Taliban promise to not allow any foreign jihadist forces to make Afghanistan their base again in the future.

Make no mistake, the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan would eventually see the Taliban return to power in Kabul, overthrowing the Western-backed, albeit heavily criticised Afghan government. Without considerable US support, and thanks to their logistical bases in eastern Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan, the Taliban are poised to make a return to government in the short to medium term.

There have been arguments that say that the Taliban may well strike a power sharing deal with the current government in Kabul. This does not appear to be likely, given that the Taliban have proven that they can hold their own on the battlefield against an opponent that has considerable Western support, both logistical and access to heavy fire support. Without the backing of the West, the Taliban may reasonably expect to fare even better, capturing more territory before the fighting season ends in early winter, whilst positioning themselves for a spring offensive in early 2020.

The US objective to oust al Qaeda from Afghanistan has succeeded. Its aim to help modernise the country and remove radical Islamists from power has provided only modest results. They may have ousted the Taliban once, but the latter has proven to have the staying power to endure Western pressure to once again find themselves on the precipice of victory, as they had in the 1990s.

The war in Afghanistan was not a defeat of the United States, but it certainly cannot be declared a victory.

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Israel and Lebanon are at loggerheads again, with tensions between Israel and Hezbollah on the increase. Last Sunday, Hezbollah attacked Israeli military vehicles from within the Lebanese border, in response to an attack on what is believed to be Hezbollah military apparatus in a southern suburb of Beirut on the 25th August.

Many of us still remember the war between Israel and Hezbollah that took place in the summer of 2006, which lasted for just over 30 days. This conflict led to a score of casualties, some 4,000 between the dead and wounded on both sides. The tensions between the two sides should not be seen in isolation, but rather, as a proxy war between Israel and Iran. With Tehran’s influence in the Middle East at an all time high, thanks to its physical presence in Iraq and Syria, and its close relationship with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel feels that Iran is encroaching upon its territory slowly, but surely. With Israel and Iran sharing no physical border, this gives Tehran an advantage in case of hostilities, with a solid stream of supplies leaving Iran going to countries bordering Israel.

Tehran and Tel Aviv have been at loggerheads for years, with the latter particularly perturbed by Iran’s alleged interest in nuclear weapon development. Such an outcome, in Israel’s eyes, would mean a mortal threat to its very existence, and would need to be prevented at all costs. Iran, on the other hand, enjoys widespread influence in the region, and sees Israel’s actions against Iranian targets in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon as acts of aggression.

War may not be imminent in the Middle East, but this is a region in which conflict is never that far away at any given moment. Future conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah will only bring Iran closer to engaging their forces directly. And you can be certain that any conflict between Iran and Israel would be damaging to regional stability, and the world as a whole. Rhetoric is innocent so long as it remains just that – but there is no doubt that temperatures are rising in the Middle East once again.

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