Last December, David Cameron came to the House of Commons and argued for the United Kingdom to join the ill-advised coalition bombing campaign in Syria. The SNP made clear that the Prime Minister had failed to make the case for bombing, and that these actions would likely strengthen the terrorist organisation of Daesh, rather than usher in its defeat.
Six months into that bombing campaign, it is clear that the UK government case is lying in tatters and that the UK Parliament and the people of these islands were sold a bill of goods.
The UK government claimed that the unique contribution of the UK’s Brimstone missiles would aid our coalition partners, even though the Saudi Arabian airforce had been using the same missiles since February 2015.
The UK government claimed that 70,000 ground troops in Syria were just waiting for the UK to enter the fray, before getting involved and bringing Daesh to heel. We have failed to see such a force emerge.
The Prime Minister’s government promised to cut off the head of the Daesh snake in Raqqa, however we have now discovered that the civilian population of the city are being used as human shields by Daesh in order to halt that very bombing on Raqqa.
It is clear that the UK government’s primary intention in joining the bombing campaign in Syria was to be seen to be doing something, even if that action has done little to change the situation on the ground.
Rather than continuing to focus on supporting international efforts to bring about 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 UK Government choose to rely on faulty assumptions.
The SNP MPs were joined by over 60 other MPs in opposing the bombing campaign in Syria and calling for a comprehensive strategy against Daesh. If the news from Raqqa tells us anything, it is that this government has no coherent or comprehensive strategy beyond its desire to appear to be taking any action.
We must not repeat the mistakes of the past – continuing to engage in military action without a comprehensive and credible plan to win the peace makes no sense at all.
The Prime Minister’s foolhardy decision in December need not be the end of our consideration. 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. That is how we win the peace and defeat Daesh, not through misguided bombing.