20 Aug 2015

Jeremy Corbyn appears to equate Isis and US military actions

In an appearance on a Russian-owned news channel in 2014, the Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn compared the actions of US forces during the Iraq war to those of Islamic State militants.

Appearing on Russia Today in June 2014 to discuss the increasing dominance of self-styled Islamic State militants in Iraq, Mr Corbyn was asked by the presenter: “What could shift the balance of forces here? What would it take for the Iraqi forces to regain control?”

The left-wing MP replied: “It requires a sense of unity among people in Iraq that want to stay part of Iraq. And also an acceptance and an understanding why so many people in so many of the cities in the north have been prepared to accept the Isis forces.”

He then went on to compare the actions of Islamic State militants to those of US forces in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004: “Yes they are brutal, yes some of what they have done is quite appalling, likewise what the Americans did in Fallujah and other places is appalling.”

In response John McTernan, a former adviser to Tony Blair, told Channel 4 News the exchange showed Mr Corbyn was not fit for political leadership, saying: “it’s a nauseating, amoral comment”,

Mr McTernan, a persistent critic of Mr Corbyn, added: “his whole foreign policy is anti-American – he cannot bring himself to not drag down America in what he says.”

However Mr Corbyn’s campaign told Channel 4 News; “Jeremy Corbyn believes the violent ideology of Isis is a vicious, repugnant force that has to be stopped – where Jeremy Corbyn talks about the need for a political solution and compromise he means not with Isis but against Isis, working across the region and beyond to choke off supplies that help fund and arm them and working with neighbouring states in the region to come to common solutions.”

Surprise front runner

Jeremy Corbyn became a candidate for the labour leadership election at the very last minute when some MPs who did not plan to vote for him nevertheless agreed to nominate him in order to broaden the debate within the party.

However he then became a surprise front runner, with his campaign drawing large crowds to public meetings across the country.

As his popularity surged the remaining candidates, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have struggled to make the same impact.

The result of the Labour leadership contest will be announced on 12 September.