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4 September 2008 Edition

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Mary Nelis Column

Mary Nelis

Mary Nelis

Alliance's welcome for RIR/UDR

NATO troops killed three children in Afghanistan on Monday. The deaths of the innocents rated about three lines in one English paper. By contrast, columns have been written about homecoming celebrations for the ‘Ulster ‘troops of the Royal Irish Regiment (formerly the UDR, formerly the B-Specials), who are part of the NATO /United Nations forces occupying Afghanistan.
Belfast City Council voted by 26 to 20 votes to hold a military celebration reception to honour soldiers who have served in a war that has no honour. The so-called ‘war on terror’ will go down in the long history of military atrocities as the most primitive and savage as that ever engaged in by mankind in any generation since the beginning of civilisation.
Future generations may well recoil in shock and awe that this civilisation could permit the terror, the savagery, the butchery that is being waged in the name of war and that we would vote for parades to honour those who were part of it.
The Iraqi civilian death toll since the British invasion is now greater than the total number of British military fatalities in the entire Second World War. In Afghanistan, thousands of civilians, men woman and children are dying daily, burned and maimed beyond recognition as human beings by American B-52 bombers, their country and homes destroyed in what the journalist Robert Fisk described as “this filthy war”.
Naomi Long of the Alliance Party, the party that blows neither hot nor cold except when condemning republicans, supported the motion to celebrate the homecoming of soldiers engaged in this filthy war. She pointed out that the RIR is in Afghanistan as part of NATO - hardly a recommendation by any stretch of the imagination.
Naomi Long said the celebration was in recognition of the sacrifices of the soldiers of the RIR who have risked their lives in that conflict. Is she speaking of the conflict which began when the British and American governments armed the Taliban to fight the Russians because it suited the West’s political interests, and then armed and paid Afghan men and boys to fight the other conflict because they didn’t like what the Taliban had become?
The collateral damage in the so-called ‘War for Civilisation’ waged by the British and Americans has almost destroyed an entire civilisation and we have not seen the end of it.
Meanwhile, the lads and lasses of the RIR, armed by their British paymasters, are nothing more than cannon fodder for the anti-Islamist racism or just plain British and American imperialist expansionism in this misnamed war.
Like the people of Afghanistan we know the track record of the soldiers who fight these wars. We know the RIR, we know their sectarianism, we know their collusion with unionist paramilitaries, and we understand the fear and loathing of the people of Afghanistan for this British regiment masquerading as Irish. As Robert Fisk states, there is no connection between Islam and ‘terror’ but there is a connection between the British occupation of Muslim lands and ‘terror’. The Alliance Party should think about that as they propose a celebration to honour the soldiers of the occupying forces.

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