Cameron Overreaches With “70,000” Claim Nobody Believes 160

Cameron is in serious trouble at Westminster after overreaching himself by the claim that there are 70,000 “moderate rebels” willing to take up the ground war with Isis. Quite literally not one single MP believes him. There are those who believe the lie is justified. But even they know it is a lie.

There is a very interesting parallel here with the claims over Iraqi WMD. The 70,000 figure has again been approved by the Joint Intelligence Committee, with a strong push from MI6. But exactly as with Iraqi WMD, there were strong objections from the less “political” Defence Intelligence, and caveats inserted. As the Head of Defence Intelligence, Major-General Michael Laurie, told the Chilcot Inquiry:

“we could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It was clear to me that pressure was being applied to the Joint Intelligence Committee and its drafters. Every fact was managed to make the dossier as strong as possible. The final statements in the dossier reached beyond the conclusions intelligence assessments would normally draw from such facts.”

The truth is the military tends to be much more honest about these matters than the spooks. Rather than make the same mistake again, parliamentarians should be calling Laurie’s successor, Air Marshal Philip Osborn, to ask him the truth about the nature, composition and availability of the 70,000. I happen to know that signals of dissent from Osborn’s staff – quite probably with his blessing – are reaching not just me, but many Tory MPs.

Meantime we can ourselves deconstruct the 70,000 figure and work out the various civil service sleights of hand that produced it. We have Cameron’s written response to the Foreign Affairs Committee in which he sets out his case for war. This document is of course extremely carefully written.

The 70,000 figure is at page 18. It does then give the breakdown of who these 70,000 are.

The very first group listed are the Kurds, and they are indeed the best organised and most numerous group. But there is a trick here – the paper includes them in the 70,000, despite going on to accept that they are not available to fight in Isil territory because it is Arab not Kurdish land. So that already knocks the largest and best contingent out of the 70,000.

Why were the Kurds included in the total when the paper itself acknowledges they are not available?

After that, Cameron is really struggling and the paper becomes vague. The paper talks (p.19) of rebel forces who defended the Syrian-Turkish border near Aleppo from ISIL attack.

This is perfectly true, but their leading fighting component is Jabhat-al-Nusra, an open al-Qaida affiliate. They cannot conceivably be described as moderate, and are armed and equipped by Saudi Arabia. Their principle martial activity is looting and raping in Shia villages. There are in fact about two dozen rebel groups around Aleppo – here is a good snapshot – who often fight each other and for the last few months have been losing ground to Assad forces. They are also a primary target of the Russians. It is simply nonsense that they could march on ISIS in Raqqa.

Cameron’s paper then goes on to reference the southern front of the Free Syrian Army, and paints a rather rose-coloured picture of its military prowess. The Free Syrian army can legitimately be painted as less extremist than other groups, with some important reservations, but nobody has ever assessed the strength of its southern branch at over 10,000 fighters. It is completely pre-occupied with fighting Assad and Hezbollah.

After that, the paper is seriously stuck, and goes on to enumerate policemen, “white helmet” humanitarian workers and even local authority engineering workforces as part of the evidence of the existence of moderate forces. Whether any of these groups is included in that amazing 70,000 total is unclear.

What is clear is that the 70,000 figure does not stand up to thirty seconds scrutiny, and there is no coherent plan whatsoever for ground forces to follow up air attack.

The absence of ground forces was an obvious flaw in Cameron’s bombing plan. For him to try to allay concerns by such a huge and blatant lie may prove to be a very poor tactic. Indeed this is so shockingly bad that not only are many Tories privately saying it is difficult to vote for bombing, even some of the still more right wing Blairites are concerned too.

160 thoughts on “Cameron Overreaches With “70,000” Claim Nobody Believes

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  • Illogistics

    70,000 moderates !? Just the logistics behind such a force would require billions, and what about the number of daesh/al-CIAda/al-Nusra who have pushed them out and hold 10 times as much territory – 200,000 ?? It will cost billions in JDAMs alone to bomb em, perhaps Anon1 who knows so much about assads barrel bomb can advise MOD about this cheaper alternative.

  • RobG

    Let the troll-fest begin.

    But can I just say that I disagree with what Craig said in an earlier post, that he thinks UN resolution 2249 allows military action in Syria. It doesn’t, but we can argue the toss over the legalities of it all later.

    The main point is that American intervention in Syria has been shown-up for the total sham it is when Russia intervened at the end of September. Russian bombing has absolutely routed ISIS within a few months, something that apparently America and its allies couldn’t do in more than a year of bombing ISIS. Strange, huh.

    With ISIS on the run, peace talks held in Vienna on 14th November set out a road map for a more stable Syria; but one day before the Vienna peace talks the Paris terror attacks occurred. Strange, huh.

    Russia supports the Assad regime and is carrying out military action in Syria within international law.

    The West wants Assad disposed and is carrying out military action in Syria totally against international law.

    Now, if you put these two concepts, these two policies, these two superpowers together you will probably end-up with WW3.

    For Godsake, we’ve just had a NATO member shoot down a Russian fighter plane.

    How much madder does this all have to get..?

  • fedup

    Well the rule of thumb is to big up the threat or support so 70,000 is the figure if the intelligence services had not stopped the Muslims living in UK to go and join the fight in Syria!

    Thus there is a need for continuing the success of the intelligence services by employing a spy to Muslim ratio of one to one, if not two to one, in case one of them went native and looked the other way or was caught short and needed to go to toilet (shades of Charles Menezes).

    However so far as the 70,000 moderate rebels go, there is a new initiative for recruitment through TV adverts and facebook and twitter that offer loads of dush free training free weapons and as many child brides as can be handled with a few boys thrown in to keep the balance and respect the gender equity and what is that lbgt etc.

    Furthermore based on the most accurate figures coming from our successful intelligence agencies that say whatever No. 10 and likes of Carlisle et al tell them to say! Also no expenses spared Negropnote and Greenstock will be pulled out of their retirement to go bribe and cajole and get some kind of SC res.

    Everyone is a winner, and no danger of third world war at all!!!!

  • Laguerre

    The alliance of Israel with al-Nusra (al-Qa’ida member) has been treated at length on Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam blog, with all the videos and documentation. You just have to work back through time. Israel does not treat all wounded Syrian fighters, only al-Nusra.

  • Andy

    Habba: Using insults and expletives is sure sign of having nothing constructive to say, conceding defeat even. You don’t fool the majority of writers to this blog, I don’t know why you think you do, delusions probably. Furthermore, why would I be worried about what Craig would write. I disagree on many things that he writes, unlike you with your Zionist dreams, I don’t follow anyone or anything blindly.

    In answer to your question:

  • Mary

    Orwell is alive.

    I write to my MP with my views saying ‘STOP. No more war, war! We have had enough of it’. Back comes a reply from an assistant acknowledging that many constituents have expressed ‘strong views’ and referring me to Agent Cameron’s speech today and to a Govt. prop sheet. Democracy. What democracy?

  • Kenny

    I have an original thought. I am probably not right, but I usually see things through an “economic prism”.

    I am convinced that the US is going to raise its interest rates (just a little) from 0.75% to 1% in the coming month(s). It has been promising to do so for years, but now it has talked itself into a corner and basically has to do it or lose face!

    But this is enough to crash the economy and, especially, to lose big money for all the big banks and big players. So I think a war is needed to “cover up” all the problems, to link these problems in people’s minds to the war, and to distract people in general… Not to mention PHYSICALLY eating up people…

    Take France. Today it “suffered the largest jump in joblessness in over 2 years to a new record high of 3.6 million people unemployed.” This is a country that really needs a war!

    I would even say that ANY country which has a record high number of unemployed people (with absolutely no hope of resolving the problem) MUST be in a state of war… any war will do!

    And I think this whole Obama v Putin v Erdogan thing is a charade. I think they all have their money in the same banks.

  • Republicofscotland

    “To be clear, we will be operating 2 pissy little Tornados against ISIS positions, but the blog will be reporting thousands/millions of civilian dead in a maelstrom of UK Fascism against the Islamic world.”


    So according to your verbal diarrhoea we’re sending incontinent jets on bombing missions.

    I thought I’d just get my piece in before the poor Syrians die from fascist British bombs like you said.

  • Habbabkuk ( drones away!)


    “In answer to your question:

    Not an answer to my question, which was: how does treating Al Nusra fighters in their hospitals says “enough” about the Israeli role? What do you mean by “enough” and what is it that that “enough” is saying?

    Don’t be shy – spell it out for the benefit of us sheeple!

    And once you’ve done that, you could try answering my first question qrising out of your original post. Namely: how does suggesting that Craig should do a piece on what he believes to be Israel’s rôle ( if any) in the Syrian conflict make me a fraud?


    And after that, you can apologise for saying I first mentioned Israel on this thread whereas it was in fact Giyane.


    And once you’ve done all that you can talk to me about using “insults and expletives”. Off you go, laddie!

  • Mick McNulty

    For Cameron to say there are moderate terrorists is like saying the Werhmacht was the moderate wing of Nazi Germany. And George Bush clearly stated, “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” It was cut and dried; black and white. No mention of being moderately for or moderately against. The US should not go unchallenged when it falls back on a clause of moderation when it so forcefully dismissed one at the start of its wars.

  • Habbabkuk ( drones away!)

    Domestic Extremist

    “The odds get shorter every day for some kind of Paris-a-like incident to occur just before the vote is taken…:/”

    I’d be a little cautious about prophesying anything on here, mon ami.

    Remember, there have been many prophecies on here (the beginning of WW3 – that was a year ago; the imminent demise of Lord Janner following an “unfortunate accident” – that was six months ago…etc, etc..), none of which turned out to be accurate.

    Unfortunately I am unable to mention the handles of those false prophets lest the Moderator again deletes my post. Apologies to all!

  • Habbabkuk ( drones away!)


    “And George Bush clearly stated, “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” It was cut and dried; black and white. No mention of being moderately for or moderately against.”

    That’s interesting.

    Could you talk us through how one can be “moderately for terrorism”?

  • Loony

    Habbakuk – What is your problem? Israel is allied to the US – surely this is uncontroversial.

    The position of the US is unambigious. No less an authority than the Pentagon states:

    “… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

    In simple terms the US supports ISIS and other Jihidist groups. Therefore Israel is likely to act in support of its US ally and provide various types of support to ISIS.

    The pertinent question of the moment is whether the UK actually intends to bomb those that enjoy the support of the US, and if so why?

  • giyane

    David Cameron is a nihilist. He knows perfectly well that the only moderates in Syria are fighting for Assad. He only sees the Jihadists as moderates because of the prism of his own nihilism : control everyone with universal spying; split society between the in-crowd who spy or have access to spy information and the spied-on; discount the opinions of anybody who is outside the in-crowd; call the result democracy or pleasing to everybody or some other vacuous fraud.

    in short Cameron wants to put someone in power in Syria who nobody likes or wants, who operates through takfirism, disenfranchising all criticism under the pretence of checking on people’s Islam.

    Now that he has spelt out his ideas on the future, they turn out to be the ideas we have always known Israel stands for: incapacitate the Muslims, flatten the infrastructure of the Muslims, colonise the Muslim lands. This is the night Cameron will close his swivelled eyes hoping that he will wake up in the morning swivel-eyed but still alive, thanks to his total sell-out of his country to the satanic Zionist plans.

  • giyane


    “Could you talk us through..”

    No. Sea-lions waddle onto a rock to divert attention from the matter in hand.

    There are no moderate rebels in Syria except the opponents of Assad who are fighting on his side to defeat the disgusting Al Qaida and Daesh.

    there will be no interruption in the theft of oil by UK Israel Turkey Kurdistan and Islamic State; it will merely be legitimised by some scoundrel softer than IS taking over IS lands.

    There will be an end to refugees camps in Turkey and Kurdistan so that the refugees can be massacred and genocided in camps in their own country.

    Property and peace will be restored to the Syrians on the T.E.Lawrence principle which Petraus used in Iraq. Working from the least important tribes upwards men and women will be imprisoned by the agents / clients of the West maybe Ala Qaida or Taliban Allah knows . They will be released only on condition of submitting to the authority of the West’s chosen Muslim Brotherhood dictator.

    Whatever happened in Iraq will be repeated in Syria, market place bombings, sectarian bombings, all false-flag operations by the shitty death-cult of Mossad.

    Cameron will have mild regrets for his stupidity in bombing Syria, resign, take up a neutral post at the United Nations, leaving knobhead cokehead in charge sploshing around his 23 million QE’d pounds till 2020.

    It’s like Alien 1, 2 and 3, slavering madness of zionist aliens impregnating our politicians, sigourney weaver, in the form of Muslim butter wouldn’t melt in the mouth soft-spoken presenters talking tripe to keep their jobs, and other BBC robot clones.

  • RobG

    Because we’re talking about matters of war and peace/life and death here, I’m going to repeat something I said on Craig’s previous post:

    RE: the Dr Strangeloves: both the Pentagon and Capitol Hill are infested with Christian fundamentalists, all eagerly awaiting the Rapture.

    It should be noted that American Protestent fundamentalism was the first to surface in modern times. Early in the 20th century the Protestents began reading religious scripture in a literal way, as though it were scientific fact. Before then, people read scripture in a more allegorical, mystical way. Islamic fundamentalism didn’t come along until later in the 20th century.

  • fedup

    The pertinent question of the moment is whether the UK actually intends to bomb those that enjoy the support of the US, and if so why?

    But are they?
    The coalition of sabre rattlers are too busy lying through their teeth to let a breath of truth to slip out. Once there in Syria it will be bombing the crap out of the Syrian Army positions and trying to turn the losing war around. The fact is we are a lot more closer to WWIII than anyone here realises!

    The simple fact is there is no need for any other forces in Syria to defeat and eradicate Daesh the simple steps of stopping the flood of the free arms and the huge sums of money funnelled into their deep pockets.

    The lies that are pushing the world in the direction of the WWIII are counting on Russians backing down! This will not happen!

  • doug Scorgie

    Anon1 – Start the War

    26 Nov, 2015 – 7:24 pm

    “I think your MP is Jeremy Hunt and I know from one of his constituents with a Type 1 diabetic daughter that he has been excellent in taking up their case and responding personally to numerous emails.”

    Jeremy Hunt believes in homeopathy on the NHS. God help the poor girl!


    Coming up BBC1 QT 22.40

    Matthew Hancock MP (Former Osborne chief of staff. Elected 2010 but already ‘currently Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, also attending Cabinet meetings. He had previously served as jointly Minister of State for Business and Enterprise and Minister of State for Energy in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government’)

    Labour’s Ken Livingstone

    SNP’s Pete Wishart MP

    Comedian Matt Forde (Blair supporter. Appears on Sky News newspaper reviews)

    Kate Andrews of the Adam Smith Institute.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    This – the Government’s proposal – is a ludicrous proposal.

    Craig, good on you, very well said, and very courageous too.

    I hope the SNP say, “No” to it.

    The way to get rid of ISIS and all the others is for there to be regional peace treaty. Saudi Arabia is the key node. Let’s hope Obama/Kerry and Putin can do a deal – that what it boils down to, really. Obama/Kerry did a deal with Iran. It’s important to acknowledge that.

  • BrianFujisan

    Nice Analysis Craig.. And So many great posts..Moderately Speaking

    We are reminded By Mick Mcnulty ( Cheers Mick ) of the Solid uncompromising language at the start of All the wars on terror Con –

    “And George Bush clearly stated, “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” It was cut and dried; black and white. No mention of being moderately for or moderately against.”

    Frankie Boyle has joined musicians, writers, union chiefs and politicians telling David Cameron not to bomb Syria as thousands of protesters prepare to march on Westminster.

    The outspoken comic is one of 23 people who signed a letter begging the Prime Minister to block air strikes tonight after he warned Britain is under ‘armed attack’.

    Others include former Roxy Music star Brian Eno, Green MP Caroline Lucas, writer John Pilger and comedian Jeremy Hardy.

    Their missive to Number 10 condemns the ‘rush to bomb’ and says wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have caused ‘large scale casualties, devastating destruction and huge flows of refugees’.

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