Commons vote on Syria

Issues concerning national security are the most important any government, opposition or individual MP can consider.

On December 2nd, after serious consideration, I voted for the following resolution:

“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 .”

This authorised the current airstrikes being carried out against ISIL (Da’esh) in Iraq – to be extended into Syria, across a border ISIL does not recognise.

It also emphasised the importance of renewed diplomatic efforts at the Vienna talks to resolve the Syrian civil war which has so far claimed 250,000 lives and displaced 7.6 million people.

UN Security Council Resolution 2249, passed unanimously, calls on member states, paragraph 5:

“To take all necessary measures…to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL…and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over Iraq and Syria.”

In addition, under Article 51 of the UN Charter, every state has the right to defend itself.

ISIL has committed horrendous atrocities including beheadings, mass rapes, sexual enslavement, murdering gay people, the mass murder of Yazidi women considered to be too old to be sex slaves. Their recent atrocities include murdering 30 British Tourists in Tunisia, 224 Russian holiday makers, 178 people in Beirut and 130 people in Paris. These were planned and orchestrated in Raqqa – ISIL’s stronghold and HQ in Syria.

They are planning more attacks. ISIL have already attempted mass murder in the UK, their plots have been foiled. The intelligence services say our risk is “severe” – attacks are highly likely.

Against that background, I consider it is self defence to authorise targeted attacks on key ISIL sites. Our military activity in Iraq has already make a difference. It has enabled the Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga to shrink the territory controlled by ISIL by 30%.

Taking this decision is difficult. It is also difficult to decide to take no action in the face of this ongoing threat. Military action alone will not solve the complex and horrendous Syrian civil war. Intensive efforts bringing about negotiated peace as the resolution recommends is the way forward, together, with support for refugees, and reconstruction when the civil war ends.