Thursday, December 03, 2015

Action by UK forces against Da'esh in Syria

Here is the column I wrote for Powys County Times this week. 

write this column after listening to the Prime Minister outline his reasons for believing it right that UK armed forces, which are already operating successfully in Iraq, should extend activities across the border into Syria, alongside the armed forces of France, United States, Turkey and Russia against the terrorist group, Da'esh. Deciding finally to support the Prime Minister was difficult. Like all MPs, I considered the position very carefully. I know there can be no certainty about the future in this complex unstable theatre of war. My decision was reached with a heavy heart and much uncertainty.

Committing our armed forces to military action is an issue that transcends party politics. It's an even more difficult decision when there are rational, persuasive, conflicting arguments as there are in this case. It is not possible to be certain about the outcome of our actions, no matter what we do. For most MPs it will come down to 'on balance' opinions. We do know that the Prime Minister would not have called a vote without significant cross party support. After much consideration, many Labour MPs decided to support the Prime Minister, as did the Liberal Democrat and DUP MPs. On balance, I believe they are right to do so.

What Britain faces is a terrorist group, Da'esh, committed to launching terrorist attacks on innocent people going about their normal lives. This murderous ideology has spawned the most brutal of attacks across the world. All of us have been shocked by attacks in Tunisia and Paris, as well as in the Middle East. In 2015, our security forces tell us that several terrorist plots have been frustrated in the UK. Britain is deemed to have been the highest category target for many years. We are already at war with Da'esh in Iraq. The Paris terrorist atrocity could very easily have been in London, Birmingham, Cardiff or Edinburgh. We are under attack and it's only the skill and vigilance of our security forces that keep us safe. 

Many constituents have contacted me opposed to British involvement. Their opposition is based on not being involved in the war against Da'esh, which logically means withdrawal from the military action in Iraq. Other constituents have contacted me in support of military action against Da'esh. However, almost all believe Da'esh should be challenged in some way and defeated.  This does raise a question of morality. The UK is a target, and want the Da'esh threat removed. Can it possibly it be right to 'outsource' action to our friends in France, US and Turkey? If we think it is right to act militarily against Da'esh, Britain cannot leave the responsibility to others. Presidents Obama and Hollande want our help. They need our help. This is the aspect of the debate which most influences me.

Inevitably there are serious uncertainties. It is accepted that Da'esh can only be defeated if there are armed forces on the ground. These cannot be forces from non-Muslim countries, because that would act as recruitment to Muslims becoming radicalised. It's also the case that while there are 70,000 potential recruits for a Syrian-based defence force, Syrian fighters against Da'esh are scattered throughout Syria and have differing ethnic backgrounds and differing objectives. Assembling effective locally based ground forces will be difficult. It's also vital and expensive to put in place restructuring and humanitarian programmes. Inevitably, there is concern about how intervention will end. But when the division bells rings, MPs have to decide. There is no hiding place. After much consideration, I decided to support the Prime Minister.

1 comment:

Joe Bidwell said...

You say"Can it possibly it be right to 'outsource' action to our friends in France, US and Turkey", maybe not but Germany, Austria Belgium Italy and the other members of Nato do and find it saves them a lot of money and blood, just why is it always the same US , France and us who bear the burden?, is it not time that Parliament , ie, you, make a stand on this and insist other nations bear their fair share instead of sheltering under our skirts?