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AAMER ANWAR: Pick less fights and we won’t need Trident

Last Updated: 18th March 2013

UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond claimed that an independent Scotland would be left undefended and under-resourced.

I would have thought if we were picking less fights and getting rid of Trident, defence wouldn’t cost us so much.

In recent months the Tories have been foaming at the mouth to spread freedom by engaging in old fashioned gunboat diplomacy. A grinning Hammond posed next to a £3billion aircraft carrier being built at Rosyth, while last month Captain Dave declared war on Al-Qaeda in Mali and now wants to arm the Syrian resistance.

Inspired by the Arab Spring, it has been two years since the Syrian people first rose up against brutal dictator Assad. The UN estimates that 70,000 have died, as the regime unleashed terror on its populace, through shelling, snipers and aerial bombardment. This is a popular resistance, but as the Jihadists, Iranians, Saudis and the West battle for control, the danger is it will spiral into a sectarian civil war. There are now one million refugees (over half are children). Half a million have crossed into poverty stricken Jordan, whose population is only six million.

The refugees are expected to double to one million by December. The rest of the 500,000 are in neighbouring Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.

Syria’s neighbours have shown extraordinary generosity by keeping their borders open, apart from Israel which opened its doors to seven refugees.

Hospitals, food and water are now stretched to the limit.

What Jordan has done would be equivalent to the UK welcoming five million refugees, but we can’t stop moaning about the 25,000 refugees we get each year. International aid agencies are now desperate for funds, with Oxfam still awaiting a $1.5billion aid package promised in January; UN children’s agency UNICEF has received only nine per cent of the promised funds, while the World Food programme for Syria has received zero of the pledged money.

An entire generation of children have been scarred for life, traumatised, shot, tortured, raped, starved, enslaved or used as human shields by both sides of the conflict. Two million children face malnutrition, disease, and severe trauma. Two-thirds of the children have been separated from members of their families or experienced the death of a close friend or family member.

Many of their stories are too horrific to tell, but the story of a 13-year-old boy in a southern village in 2011 symbolises why the Syrian people rose up.

Hamza Al-Khateeb was arrested by the security forces for joining a demonstration. He disappeared and a month later his body was dumped on his family’s doorstep. He had been shot, burned and had his penis cut off by Assad’s security forces. For the last two years, thousands of women and children have been raped by both the government forces and sections of the resistance.

The conflict is rapidly creating teenage fighters whose innocence has been torn from them.

Captain Dave’s solution to all this is to lift the European arms embargo and arm the resistance, but the most powerful group actually claims allegiance to Al- Qaida and is being bankrolled by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

It’s a funny old thing history. The last time Saudi Arabia backed one set of resistance fighters, which we trained and armed, we ended up with the Taliban. Now what is it that muppet said about defending an Independent Scotland.

Criminalisation of Football Fans?

WHEN the Scottish Government passed the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act a year ago, they made it clear that they wished to stamp out bigotry and religious hatred.

I believe it was the right thing to do, but am concerned over the increased demonisation of fans. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Rangers’ Union Bears or Celtic’s Green Brigade, the police do not have the right to harass or threaten you.

A conviction rate of 84 per cent is a sign of success, but the use of surveillance, dawn raids, stopping at airports, or claims that some police describe themselves as “pest controllers dealing with vermin” must stop.

The next time you feel abused, your ‘legitimate’ flag is grabbed, told to shut up for singing a song that causes no offence, don’t just moan about it — contact a lawyer, make a complaint to the police, take the badge number of the police officer who broke the law and film them.

Being a football fan doesn’t make you scum.A year on, it’s important that the legitimate grievances of fans are listened to.


Preparing for trial, I remembered when a certain QC and I went to prison to see the accused. My client decided to tell us that that he had two wives. I replied that I found it hard enough to deal with one, never mind having two, The QC topped that with asking the accused if he knew what the punishment was for bigamy?

A: – Two mothers-in-law.

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