My position on Syria – Ivan Lewis MP
I would like to thank constituents and party members who have contacted me regarding the Government’s recent decision to authorise UK armed forces to launch airstrikes against ISIS Daesh in Syria.
There is no more important decision that a Member of Parliament has to make as to whether to send our brave servicemen and women into any form of military action on our behalf.
Having considered the facts and listened to different perspectives I have reached a decision based on my judgment of how ultimately ISIS are most likely to be defeated. A defeat which is essential to our security here in the UK and greater stability in the Middle East.
Taking account of lessons from past military interventions and having considered the case made by David Cameron I do not believe extending UK air strikes to Syria at the present time is justified. In my view, the proposal is being driven by a short term, tactical and understandably emotional response to the horrendous atrocities in Paris. It is a stand alone gesture which risks unintended consequences when what is needed is a credible strategic plan. I am sceptical that extending or reordering UK air strikes against Isis from Iraq to Syria now is an urgent imperative or will make a significant difference to degrading their capacity. It is also fanciful to imply that there is a groundforce of 70000 in Syria ready and able to fight.
Isis will only be defeated by a comprehensive strategy which brings together diplomatic, military and humanitarian interventions.
This comprehensive strategy will require:-
– A political settlement to the Syrian civil war which includes guarantees of no more attacks by Assad on Syrian civilians.
– Major reconstruction and humanitarian support for Syrian citizens and refugees returning home.
– A strong military presence on the ground to take on Isis directed by a unified and professional command structure. A force which should consist of troops from the region. This will only be possible if through a political settlement, Syrian Sunnis no longer believe that fighting ISIL will help Assad to win the civil war.
– Measures including the threat of sanctions which choke off financial support, weapons sales and other forms of support to ISIS.
– The UK Government should play a leading role in working with others to develop such a strategy.
I want to make it clear that I respect the views of colleagues who have reached a different conclusion to my own. I hope people will accept they are acting in good faith and should not be subject to abuse or political intimidation.
The barbarism and fascist ideology of ISIL must be defeated and this will almost certainly require amongst other things military action on the ground by regional forces. In the future they may require targeted support from the air. However, the requirement for such support would have to be considered on its merits as part of a comprehensive strategy and take full account of the potential impact on civilians. The current proposal is a short term tactical measure which will neither strengthen our national security or enhance the protection of innocent civilians from brutality and murder. That is why I opposed the Government motion on air strikes in Parliament last week.