This week a horrific image of a tiny little body lying dead on a Turkish beach has completely changed the narrative of European leaders in regards to the current refugee crisis emanating from the Middle East and the catastrophe that is Syria. There has been a fundamental shift in the political will of the political classes to do something to tackle this crisis on a humanitarian level. In the UK the outrage of the population, prompted by that image, has led the Prime Minister to change his right wing nasty stance on this crisis and now thousands of refugees will be offered sanctuary in Britain. But 15000 refugees (the number suggested by the Prime Minister) is a drop in the ocean when over seven million people have been displaced due to the war in Syria and while one might welcome this humanitarian effort – which is rather late and rather weak – there does need to be a longer term political solution to the problem, rather than what we are currently seeing, which is a hodge podge of effort and squabbling about how many refugees each country should take.
ISIS controls half of Syria. We all know that it has killed and captured many thousands of citizens. Through the media we have all born witness to its brutality in the form of beheadings, amputations, chucking off tall buildings and stoning. They are 7th century barbarians living in a 21st century world, but with military action seemingly stalling, should we be sitting down and talking with ISIS? The current status quo cannot be allowed to continue, but is it naïve of me to suggest trying to open up a dialogue would make any difference to the current situation? However can talking ever hurt? After all if you are not in a state of full on boots on the ground conflict, how can you end a war without negotiation? Look at Northern Ireland as an example.
Of course the major problem one might have in trying to negotiate is how do you negotiate with a people who think that it is their god given right to rape, torture and murder those who do not look and think exactly like they do. ISIS is a fascist movement but instead of working for and worshipping the state they are working for and worshipping a very warped image of a God that has been developed with a very warped belief structure. They are fanatics and can you ever negotiate, at least negotiate successfully, with fanatics?
Maybe negotiation will not work. Maybe the only way we can go is to try and change the hearts and minds of those who have become befuddled and radicalised by these murderous bastards?