Tomorrow we are expecting a vote on military intervention against Daesh in Syria and I want to outline the reasoning behind my decision.
I firstly want to thank all of those who have sent me emails and messages outlining their thoughts since David Cameron first presented his package of measures, which includes airstrikes, to Parliament last Thursday.
Decisions on military action are the most difficult any Member of Parliament has to make. This is especially true in relation to Syria as there are both advantages and disadvantages of military intervention. Given the complexities of the conflict I am sceptical about anyone who has an absolute position, either for or against intervention. I have attended numerous briefings delivered by a variety of experts which have helped me to reach, what I believe on balance, is the right decision.
The starting point which has guided my reasoning, is knowing that every day Daesh look for new and innovative ways to inflict suffering, rape, violence and death on innocent men, women and children, the vast majority of whom are Muslims. As a country we have failed to offer any protection to those civilians. Their suffering is undeniable and clear for everyone to see. There is a strong moral case for any intervention which offers protection to those innocent civilians. What needs to be clear is the practical delivery of that intervention.
I want to be crystal clear that airstrikes are not a substitute for the political and diplomatic efforts that will be required to turn around this conflict. We must continue to work with our international allies, old and new, with a renewed urgency, through the UN and other organisations. The Government has acknowledged this and I am pleased to see that we will be working with a coalition of 63 countries and 2 international organisations as part of the Global Coalition to counter Daesh.
The UN Security Council last month unanimously approved a text relating to Daesh which called on members to “combat by all means this unprecedented threat to international peace and security” which is a powerful statement.
We are currently involved in interventions in Iraq against Daesh where our actions have both offered protection to civilians, and contributed to degrading and disrupting Daesh activity. Because Daesh do not recognise the border between Syria and Iraq, our attempts to protect civilians and limit the advances of Daesh are undermined if we are unable to work across the border. I believe that the Government have made the case for extending interventions across the border into Syria.
I have received many emails asking me not to make the same mistakes as Iraq and Libya. Whilst lessons can certainly be learned from these conflicts, I am also keen to learn the lessons of Srebrenica and Rwanda where the international community did little to nothing to protect innocent people from atrocities. We so often say ‘never again’ when looking back on these horrors and this weighs heavy in my decision making.
I am also reassured that in learning the lessons of Iraq and Libya, the government has already committed £1 billion in post-conflict reconstruction for Syria, whilst acknowledging that physical reconstruction will need to be accompanied by significant efforts towards social and political rebuilding.
I have included a copy of the Government's motion which is comprehensive. I will continue to push the Government to keep up their commitments to the talks in Vienna as well as preparations towards post-conflict stabilisation.
I believe the necessary conditions for intervention have been met; we have UN approval, a commitment to a diplomatic solution and a clear moral duty to protect civilians. For these reasons, I will be voting in support of air strikes tomorrow.
Motion for debate
MPs will debate the following motion:
“That this House notes that ISIL poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom; welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 which determines that ISIL constitutes an 'unprecedented threat to international peace and security' and calls on states to take 'all necessary measures' to prevent terrorist acts by ISIL and to 'eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria'; further notes the clear legal basis to defend the UK and our allies in accordance with the UN Charter; notes that military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria; welcomes the renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement; welcomes the Government's continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees; underlines the importance of planning for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria; welcomes the Government’s continued determination to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters and weapons; notes the requests from France, the US and regional allies for UK military assistance; acknowledges the importance of seeking to avoid civilian casualties, using the UK’s particular capabilities; notes the Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; welcomes the Government's commitment to provide quarterly progress reports to the House; and accordingly supports Her Majesty's Government in taking military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria; and offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty's Armed Forces .”