Jeremy Corbyn’s abysmal response to the Salisbury poison attack has been widely criticised, including by Labour MPs. And rightly so.
It is, however, no surprise at all. In fact, it is entirely true to form.
Look back to 2013. In March of that year, the brutal Syrian regime was accused of launching chemical warfare attacks in the Aleppo region. Further attacks followed elsewhere in the country.
By June 2013, President Obama’s White House took a view:
Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year. Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information.
We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.
Human Rights Watch, an organisation not known to favour “imperialists”, also came to the conclusion that the regime was indeed using chemical weapons in a study of the Ghouta attacks in 2013.
Russia stepped in, insisting it had “evidence” that the attack in March 2013 was carried out by opposition forces. These claims were championed in July 2013 by Russia Today (RT), the Kremlin’s propaganda channel. Who else chimed in on RT? Jeremy Corbyn:
From the RT report (emphases added):
RT: Russia says the evidence it’s uncovered, just to remind you of this story, implicating Syrian rebel forces in the use of chemical weapons is solid. Russia says it can be made public. Let’s talk then to British Labour party MP Jeremy Corbyn on the line. Hi there Mr Corbyn, thanks for being with us. Do you think this evidence that the Syrian rebels used sarin gas could in any way impact the British stance now in Syria? Is it going to be effective at all? By what we’re hearing, it’s solid evidence.
Jeremy Corbyn: Well it seems very strong evidence indeed and I saw the interview with the Russian officials this morning describing the use of sarin gas.
Our evidence, by contrast, did not convince Mr Corbyn. Actually, praise for Russia was in order.
RT: So, today, Moscow says it has evidence that the Syrian rebels used sarin gas. Now, earlier Britain said, of course, that Assad forces were behind chemical weapon attacks. But why didn’t Britain and the US come forward with the same sort of hard evidence that Russia has come forward with now? Why didn’t it do that, winding the clock back?
Corbyn: Well, interesting question. I cannot speak for the British or US governments. But they made these allegations about the use of chemical weapons – and there are apparently stocks of chemical weapons being held in Syria, which may well have fallen into opposition hands, or may well be still in government hands, or maybe both – but the assertion was made that they had been used. But no hard evidence came up, and indeed, there was a great deal of skepticism surrounding the evidence that was never really presented. And then the Russian evidence today appears much stronger, and they said very clearly they were going to put that evidence in the hands of the United Nations. That has got to be a good thing.
The “hard evidence” is that Mr Corbyn instinctively takes the side of our enemies, even when they commit the most heinous of crimes.