Statement on Syria

syria_map_1_.gif

As things stand, I would not support military action in Syria. I see the validity of the government’s argument that we can bomb in Iraq but not Syria – recognising an international border that IS does not recognise. I believe that IS is a fascist extremist group with whom there can be no negotiation and which must be defeated.

However, I do not believe that bombing in Syria at the moment would do anything other than make matters worse. There is a civil war with at least three, and more likely six or seven, different sides. We oppose IS and we oppose Assad, so do we bomb both of them? Will that help persuade the Russians to stop bombing Assad’s opponents whom we support? The situation is chaotic and more bombing would not calm or clarify that chaos. Indeed I held that view before Turkey shot down a Russian plane recently, which just confirmed my fears.

In order to support bombing in Syria I would need assurances that such action was legal, and that there was a genuine post-conflict peace, reconciliation and reconstruction plan in place. It is fair to say that one of the reasons – but not the only reason – why we are in this mess now is because of the failure to make those arrangements in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. I see no proposals currently that would satisfy me that there are plans in place for a secure and sustainable peace in Syria.

One argument I reject is that bombing will make us more of a terrorist target. We are a target already and will continue to be until IS and other fundamentalist groups are defeated, militarily and ideologically.

I will monitor the situation and mine is not a hard and fast position, but as things stand I would not support military action in Syria. 

Showing 108 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • followed this page 2015-12-04 20:45:13 +0000
  • commented 2015-12-02 23:35:06 +0000
    That’s generous of you, sweetheart. ;)
  • commented 2015-12-02 23:29:28 +0000
    If I understand your question, it means I will waste no further time on someone that cannot be taken seriously. But it was a fun read anyway
  • commented 2015-12-02 23:00:02 +0000
    Does that mean you can’t be bothered to write a proper reply?
  • commented 2015-12-02 22:56:05 +0000
    Thanks for the entertainment Fiona. I love the commitment, the absolute totality of your delusion. The fashionable word is i think Radicalised. :) recommend you to a career in stand up comedy :) :) :) :) Jeremy can be your warm up act.
  • commented 2015-12-02 22:51:29 +0000
    Not bombing someone isn’t the same as “sitting on the fence”. Not bombing = not bombing. Also, I’m not sure you understand what “apologising for something” means.

    Comments on your previous post:
    1) The Iraq war clearly did contribute to the creation of ISIS/ISIL. Saddam was Sunni, and a lot of his government were Sunni. The regime that replaced him is Shia. The Iraqi Sunni – feeling newly vulnerable, discriminated against and endangered – were thus easy pickings for militant groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq. Iraq is where ISIS got started.
    2) The appalling gas attacks occurred at the end of the nineteen eighties. Had the UK really wanted to save the Kurds, they were fifteen years too late. Saddam Hussein was a brutal bastard (funded and supported by the West for a long time, naturally); is the UK supposed to go to war with every evil dictator on the planet?
    3) What weapons of mass destruction? Why didn’t he use them on the Coalition forces in 2003 when they arrived to topple him?
    4) I really don’t care that much about “our boys” – I feel sorry for them, since I think a lot of them come from low socio-economic backgrounds, and many may not feel they have a great deal of choice if they want to have a family and provide for them. However, they put on the uniform. They signed on the dotted line. Presumably they knew their lives would be put at risk. Perhaps for some of them, that’s the attraction. If we start a bombing campaign, then the ratio of civilian deaths to militant deaths is uncertain. It could be anything from one civilian per two militants to three civilians per one militant or even worse. If we go with the first option, and say that there are thirty thousand ISIS militants active in Syria (this is rather a low estimate – there aren’t really proper figures), then – assuming that we destroyed every one of them – we could expect a minimum of fifteen thousand civilians to die.
    5) But you might argue that ISIS will cause the deaths of fifteen thousand + if it remains active in Syria/Iraq. The problem is, envisioning a future that doesn’t involve huge amounts of civilian death. Even with ISIS removed, Syria would still be in a state of civil war. Assad vs the Kurds vs the rebels (some of whom sympathise with ISIS and Al Qaeda). And they all hate each other. And this is why people keep on going on about plans, and why we need them. It’s why it’s no good to just rush into a conflict saying – “we’ll bomb stuff, and then it’ll be fine!” It generally isn’t. What Syria needs is an equivalent of the Marshall Plan and denazification – the latter for all those kids who’ve spent the last two years being fed ISIS propaganda. But that’s only after getting the other Syrian factions to stop killing each other.
    6) You don’t seem to understand just how much Britain is hated in the Middle East. America too. Anything we do there will be viewed with great hostility and suspicion. For good reason. We have done some horrible things there. With every bomb we drop, that’s ten more members for ISIS. That’s why the only kind of British military action I could support in Syria would be as part of a UN force, which would include members of Muslim countries in its ranks.
  • commented 2015-12-02 21:01:06 +0000
    I don’t deny any ‘facts’ Mark i just don’t accept your theory. My conscience will be much better than if we send out the message that Isis can keep killing and we will just sit on the fence. Apologising for terrorism seems to be your speciality not mine, hope your conscience is ok the next time you go to France ……
  • commented 2015-12-02 19:11:17 +0000
    No bombing .
  • commented 2015-12-02 17:58:59 +0000
    Bombing is not the answer
  • commented 2015-12-02 16:42:31 +0000
    Ok Phil, you obviously have your views and that’s fine. There is very little point in discussing much with you if you want to deny facts. Enjoy your conscience.
  • commented 2015-12-02 16:36:41 +0000
    Mark I didn’t say that the answer to the situation was simple, only the answer to the question. It does amaze me how many people though attempt to blame ourselves for everything. The war in Iraq did not create Isis. It did not and does not give any justification to their cause or their actions. People say we shouldn’t have bombed Iraq yet readily forget Saddam murdering Iraqi Kurds with chemical attacks. They argue absurdly that he had no WMD although he used them and use it to constantly blame our country for doing the right thing. Yes as Blair said there should have been a better plan for the aftermath, but it’s these same critics who wanted our boys to come home. It’s absurdly inconsistent. Today’s debate is pointless in terms of what people are arguing here. With or without us Syria will be bombed and innocents will die. Cameron wants the debate firstly to avoid the retrospective vilification of the Blair witch hunt, and secondly to publicly expose Our Labour civil war caused by electing a leader opposed to our party policy.
  • commented 2015-12-02 15:52:56 +0000
    As a Chester resident I support your stance Chris.

    Stay strong and do not consent to military action on the back of David Cameron’s fag packet justification. There needs to be a far more joined up strategy for tackling ISIS, even if that involves UK ground forces. George Monbiot wrote an excellent piece for the Guardian today, if anyone needs further demonstration of the banality and short-sightedness of David Cameron’s argument, please read it.
  • commented 2015-12-02 15:45:48 +0000
    Phil, are you serious that it is an easy question to answer? Bombing didn’t work in Iraq first time around-Colin Powell notably said the US were ’ bouncing rubble’ with million dollar missiles. It didn’t work against Milosovic as it was too difficult to distinguish military from civilian targets, and it didn’t work in Afghanistan.

    It was, I agree, effective during the ’ shock and awe’ in 2003, but created the situation we face today. The initial bombing spread Hussein’s army all over the place ( a completely different isolated target to the one about to happen in Syria), and in led to rival militia groups fighting a series of civil wars that the West couldn’t cope with, leaving a political vacuum and in turn nourished the conditions where Isis grew, as admitted by Blair recently.

    This is what will happen again, and a new Isis or whatever will emerge from the ashes of this.
  • commented 2015-12-02 12:29:20 +0000
    Jane you are right that there is a lack of coordination because so many of the allies have differing agendas. But the bombing is not the main reason for the exodus of refugees. That is Isis and the civil war
  • commented 2015-12-02 12:25:44 +0000
    Peter fair points as I said before. Yet ultimately the bombing will happen with or without us. People here are going off at tangents and debating as if we are deciding whether the bombing will happen. Supporting our involvement it’s not supporting Cameron. It’s supporting Labour policy actually. Just not Corbyns ! Yes there should be a plan for the long term agreed by all those in the alliance. In the meantime the bombing reduces isis ability to make money plot terrorism and expand their “state”
  • commented 2015-12-02 12:18:44 +0000
    Mark, such an easy question to answer. Of course the bombing in Iraq had the desired effect in bringing Saddams regime to a swift end. The main reason our governments choose bombing campaign is that the same people who complain about it didn’t want boots on the ground and our troops losing their life’s. They seem to want to live in a bubble where we do nothing and bad people become nice all by themselves
  • commented 2015-12-02 11:52:01 +0000
    When you look at the territory currently occupied by Da’ish, it seems to me that a more effective strategy might be a return to the old concept of a siege. Break through and isolate them allowing only food and medicine in, then draw them out to a sequence of carefully controlled and winable battles using drones and ground troops from those militia that seem the most reliable in each region eg the Kurds. This would de-escalet the violence without risking as many civilian lives. However, this will only work if the supply of arms and ammunition is cut off and we tackle those regimes that are covertly supporting them.
  • commented 2015-12-02 11:28:00 +0000
    With regards to Phil, can he give any example of bombing campaigns in Iraq, the Balkans, Afghanistan or any other recent conflict that have actually had an effect? It doesn’t work. And as for feeling sorry for the Kurds suffering, where do you stand on the fact that we will now be forming alliances with the Turks who are slaughtering the Kurds, the only people who are making any headway in stemming ISIS? Greening last night didn’t rule out an alliance with Assad either?

    This phantom army of 70,000 is made up of over 100 diverse factional groups, one of which has over 50 different internal factions. These will be the people at the heart of whatever reconstruction takes place, and history shows a new Taliban, Al Q or ISIS will rise from this. For 70000 in 2015 read 45 mins in 2003.

    Have a look at the words of someone you obviously admire greatly, and see if you can see potentially see any comparison,

    ‘I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.’

    And as for the view that a terrorist threat could happen in Chester, it is comforting to know that the NHS , the police and the armed forces are fully resourced under Cameron and that minimum damage will take place before, during and in the aftermath because of this.
  • commented 2015-12-02 11:17:42 +0000
    The fact that military action has been ongoing for many months in Syria and Iraq, with the only tangible evidence of outcomes being the mass migration of peoples across continents and the continued global terror attacks, does not suggest a strategy that is working. To increase bombing is not a change in strategic direction and is not in response to a UN call for more UK bombs that would be the game changer, the “what would win it” – the lack of bombs therefore is not the issue. UK bombing will not change current outcomes nor would it effectively reduce the “imminent threat” to the UK. UK’s proposed like for like involvement in an already saturated combat zone is akin to everyone turning up at the party bringing the same nibbles and no-one having the foresight to have asked what was needed – coordination ?
  • commented 2015-12-02 11:08:24 +0000
    “Peter, you are right that air strikes alone will not achieve what we need”
    Air strikes are the only part of the strategy that has been set out, MPs are simply voting upon that. Everyone knows the ‘what happens next’ bit is the most important in terms of destroying Da’ish. That is why those who, like Chris, oppose the air strikes want to know how we can achieve the primary goal of destroying them. It’s not enough to say ’we’ll think about that later’, that strategy has failed too many times in the past and Lybia is a direct comparison. There’s nothing to be gained by arguing about what we should or shouldn’t have done in previous conflicts (I supported Tony Blair in attacking Iraq), despite the provocative rhetoric, we all want the same thing. But we can at least learn from the past and the clear lesson is that you must have a whole strategy not just the opening bit. So far, the only follow up that has been given is unreliable and everyone, including Cameron’s supporters acknowledge it – the 70,000 ground troops are an illusion. So when a lie is used to justify an action, you seriously have to question the integrity of the person saying it. We ALL want to do something, but that something needs to be effective, not a part solution that in itself is unlikely to achieve its goals. We aren’t talking about the commencement of strikes, as you know, they have been going on for months, we’re talking about the incremental difference British air strikes might make. I believe there are far more effective ways than adding a few more aircraft to the already densly populated skies above Syria. And this should never be about showing our mates we’re on their side, we’re already doing that by our own campaign in Iraq (in which most of them are not involved). We need to defeat Da’ish, not make gestures.
  • commented 2015-12-02 11:00:13 +0000
    Thanks Chris and as one of your constituents I hope you manage to persuade others to take a similarly reasoned approach.
  • commented 2015-12-02 10:43:10 +0000
    Peter, you are right that air strikes alone will not achieve what we need. On the other hand it’s the way to begin to dismantle disrupt and destroy the functioning of Isis on the ground before involving ground troops. We will inevitably have to do that. It’s an absurd notion that we are expecting the Kurds to take all of the suffering in doing our dirty work. The main point though is that the air strikes are going to happen regardless of whether the UK supports her allies. Air strikes will happen on a massive scale and yes innocents will die although a lot less than die at the hands of Isis, and for us to simply opt out would be a betrayal of our allies and particularly France who have now brought us all together under a UN resolution to do this unanimously
  • commented 2015-12-02 10:29:05 +0000
    One or two things that living through the first 15 years of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland taught me were that
    (a) if you treat a significant population as combatants or fellow travellers (by imposition of internment or bombing) or generate a lot of ‘collateral’ damage then you will create even more supporters for the cause that you want to eradicate
    (b) a move from the strictest ethical standards (e.g. by ‘shoot to kill’ policies – when it would have or should have been possible to bring people to trial) will eventually backfire on you
    © you will inevitably end up negotiating with those that you have been fighting (The IRA in N Ireland, ETA in Spain, FARC in Colombia, Aden, Kenya, etc etc)
    (d) you have to be in it for the long term and be prepared to provide whatever resources – both political and humanitarian as well as military- that are needed. With current overstretch and further likely cuts in our armed forces, I simply do not believe that the necessary commitment will be there. It is one of the reasons for the failure in Afghanistan – the long term commitment was diluted when we got distracted and drawn into the conflict in Iraq.
    Some have made comments that if we do not participate in bombing, we will not have a stake in determining Syria’s future. This implies that we (i.e. the ‘West’) can (a) envisage that future and (b) impose it.
    And that is the crux of the problem – there is no agreed vision for what that future should be, how it would be made acceptable to the Syrian people, who will finance the reconstruction and resettlement, or how other regional powers could be stopped from interfering in the country’s internal affairs – the list goes on and on.
    Anyone who observed the Lebanese Civil war and its (still) ongoing aftermath will realise that there is no simple solution to religiously divided multi ethnic countries without goodwill and common purpose from all the participants and coherent support, where necessary, from outside. A few extra bombs will not provide these conditions.
    But we could start by cutting off the finance (which the UK COULD do something about), the illegal trade in oil, the supply of weapons, the supply of recruits. It is only when all participants acknowledge that they cannot win outright that progress can be made. That is a long way off in the case of ISIS or others who believe that to die for their cause is to gain entry to heaven – but bombing will not hasten that day.
    I am not opposed to action – but it must be properly and holistically considered with a reasonable chance of success. Cameron’s proposals fail in this regard
  • commented 2015-12-02 10:27:27 +0000
    The most frustrating thing about the air strikes proposal is not that they are taking action against Da’ish, it’s that they aren’t taking effective action. We want rid of this fanatical bunch of killers and every day we waste bombing civilians helps them grow and depletes our resources – human, financial and weapons. When Syria becomes Lybia on steroids and the hundreds of competing militia are running riot through the streets, we will see how bad the refugee crisis can really get. Air strikes are bad primarily because they won’t work – we need a more effective strategy.
  • commented 2015-12-02 10:09:15 +0000
    Phil, if you read what I said it is pretty clear that I am in favour of action against IS just not THIS action. “Act in haste and repent at leisure” and “Revenge is a dish best served cold”. In other words take the time to decide what to do and then do it properly. Cameron is desperate to be seen to be doing something that he will do anything even if it is counterproductive. That scares me. I’m glad Chris has taken the stand that he has . I’m not rising to the bait about success under Blair or not, it’s irrelevant to the debate about Syria.
  • commented 2015-12-02 10:05:40 +0000
    Note on Steve’s comment – if we were actually going to bomb where most of the attackers came from, we should be sending the RAF to Belgium and the Parisian banlieues, since they spent most of their lives in Europe. Otherwise I agree very much.

    Phil – ISIL billets its soldiers in civilian houses. Suspect Syrians will not be all that grateful to western powers + Russia when shovelling their relatives’ insides off the street. Being killed in huge numbers by crazed Europeans/Americans with a Messiah complex not a vast improvement on being killed in huge numbers by a crazed death cult.
  • commented 2015-12-02 09:59:19 +0000
    A post conflict plan now would not be worth anything in view of the complex politics in Syria, anything we can do to kill some of these murdering Isis thugs should be done in my opinion.
  • commented 2015-12-02 09:51:35 +0000
    As for your reference to JC and his mythical landslide majority, it was a landslide majority of people who did not support Labour policy, had not voted for the Labour Party, it was a landslide of people attempting a political coup to seize control of the party and change it into something else. But something real Labour supporters will either defeat, or desert in droves. The Labour Party has been “radicalised”. And just like Syria, it needs to be set free from the evil that has infiltrated it. Just like Syria, if the disease is not defeated, the Labour Party faces almost certain death and anhialation. The British people will never ever elect an extremist leader to Diwning Street, especially a traitor to his party and his country.
  • commented 2015-12-02 09:40:45 +0000
    Well STEVE the two are interlinked. If you had angst about Labour being successful, Labour supporters have the right to angst that the loony left is destroying our party like a cancer. You are not interested in protecting the innocents in Syria or you would support the action. Isis murders them in their thousands and you want to not protect them. There will still be innocent casualties but not as many as if Isis are left to thrive. Anyway don’t worry it won’t be "in your name’. Even though you will be safer because a massive international alliance of military power will dismantle our enemy, it will be in the name of our nation and its allies, not those who detract and prefer to see us weak and defenceless
  • commented 2015-12-02 08:36:53 +0000
    This thread is supposed to be about the reasons for and against the bombing of Syria not expressing angst about the direction of the party (that was settled by a landslide majority and those who are unhappy have the same choices that those of us who were unhappy under Tony Blair had).

    With regard to Syria, the issue is not that ISIS/ISIL/IS etc need neutralising, that is beyond doubt, it is that adding our bombs to those already falling is just a symbolic gesture that will have no material benefit towards ending either the threat of terrorism in this country or the conflict in Syria itself. So why put our pilots lives at risk and add to the collateral damage of non-IS casualties? Particularly after Paris we all felt that something had to be done, we wanted to punish those responsible, to hurt them the way they had hurt innocent people, going about their lives in their home city. But most of the actual murderers are dead. So how do you retaliate? You send bombers to bomb where they came from! This is vengeance, not a way of ending the conflict, of protecting ourselves, let’s be totally honest about it, this is vengeance – “You hurt us, now look what we can do in return”. And who will the majority of the victims be? People living in their home city going about their lives until sudden violence ends it for them. Does that make us better or worse than them? Hunt them down one by one if necessary, I have no problem with that, just don’t kill innocents in my name please.