• Syria

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    02 December 2015

    At the time of writing Parliament may soon be asked to approve our country joining our allies in airstrikes against so-called Islamic State (‘IS’) in Syria. We already carry out sorties against them in Iraq but currently stop at the Syrian border. In 2013 Parliament voted against air strikes against Syrian President Asaad who was using chemical weapons against his own people. I voted for our involvement then and if, by the time you read this, there has been a vote for our intervention in Syria then I will have voted for that too. The circumstances of 2013 and now are different. Many asked then if our interests were really best served by standing up for others so far from our shores but today the arguments for staying away are less easily prosecuted. The opposition to Asaad has been transformed - partly because we failed to act in 2013 - from the largely moderate Free Syrian Army towards the scourge of IS – a group of islamist extremists who have slaughtered, tortured, beheaded and raped their way across an area of Iraq and Syria the size of Britain. Now established, it is plundering oil to raise millions of dollars a day. It believes in the creation of an intolerant worldwide caliphate and whilst its beliefs and actions may be medieval, its barbarism comes with sophistication. IS very effectively uses the Internet to recruit jihadists from across the world. In Britain over 700 citizens have visited Syria to support them and hundreds have returned. Some are sick of what they have seen but others plan to take terror to our streets. We have foiled 7 UK plots similar to Paris in recent months.  So IS in Syria and Iraq matters directly to us here at home. In considering whether to join in Syrian strikes a key question is – will it make us safer than doing nothing? UK airstrikes alone of course are not going to resolve the situation on the ground which is why we are working on several other fronts including our strenuous diplomatic efforts; achieving the recent unanimous UN Security Council mandate to take ‘all necessary measures’, engaging with regional forces, with Russia. Taking action to hunt down IS funding and disrupt oil sales. But UK military action really can make a difference. Our precision weapons such as the Brimstone missile will help take out IS leaders. We will add to the vital air cover for those moderate Arab forces on the ground who are facing up to the IS threat. The alternative is to subcontract out the heavy lifting to others. To turn our back on the pleas of our allies including France after Paris. To look away when IS is already plotting against us regardless. If collectively we confront the challenge then the more moderate forces on the ground can better take IS on. Yes, a long hard and dangerous struggle lies ahead but just like action so inaction has consequences too – we are right to act.