The case for air strikes on Syria has not been made

Just two years ago the Prime Minister urged the House of Commons to bomb the opponents of Daesh in an ill-conceived plan that would have likely strengthened the terrorist organisation. Today, the Prime Minister has returned to the House of Commons with a similarly ill-conceived motion that would see the United Kingdom engage in a bombing campaign in Syria.

It is clear that this is simply to appease the Government’s attitude to be seen to be doing something, rather than continuing to focus on supporting international efforts to bring an end to the violence and find a long term solution that provides the people of Syria, Iraq and the wider Middle East with peace and stability.

The SNP have said that we would not support the extension of military action in Syria if the Prime Minister failed to answer the key questions posed to him by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. By a majority the committee has found that he has not addressed these concerns.

Military intervention in Syria without a credible peace-building plan will only make the situation worse. This cannot be another Libya, where the UK has spent 13 times more on bombing the country than on its reconstruction. The situation in Syria has already spurred one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades, and there is scant evidence that the Prime Minister’s military action will do anything to improve the lives of these people. 

Yesterday I took the time to meet Syrian exiles to discuss their experiences and hear their views. It was heartbreaking to listen to people who are merely surviving on hope. They told me that Daesh must be defeated, for the sake of people in Syria as well as for the safety of people in Europe and Britain. But this will not be achieved by the Prime Minister’s bombing campaign. 

I was co-sponsor of the 2003 amendment to oppose invading Iraq and I am a proud co-sponsor of today’s cross-party amendment opposing bombing in Syria and calling for a comprehensive strategy against Daesh. The motion signed by all 54 SNP MPs is also supported by over 60 other MPs, including the key signatories of Green MP Caroline Lucas, Hywel Williams MP of Plaid Cymru, SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell, Chair of the Defence Select Committee Dr Julian Lewis MP, Labour MP Graham Allen and Conservative MP John Baron. 

We must not repeat the mistakes of the past, and engage in military action without a comprehensive and credible plan to win the peace. Instead of the Prime Minister’s foolhardy motion, the UK must step up its support for the International Syria Support Initiative and other diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire in Syria and a political transition to stable representative government.