Today, Parliament overwhelmingly voted to support its fellow Western allies, France and the United States, in the campaign against Daesh. I voted in support of air strikes this evening because I believe it is essential that we degrade ISIL’s ability to plan and direct terrorist attacks on UK citizens. It is crucial that the RAF have the ability to cross the Iraqi border and strike at Daesh’s central base in Raqqah.
The bill I voted on tonight contained a commitment to have a “renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement”. This settlement was reached on the 30 October and had representations from 18 countries including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran.
The conclusion of these talks recognised territorial integrity was fundamental in addition all ethnic and religious groups must be protected, whilst government is retained. The political process must also be Syrian-led and Syrian-owned because this is the only way to prevent a further push towards Syrian individuals becoming radicalised. A series of other points were raised at the International Syria Support Group highlighting the need for institutions to remain intact; an acceleration of diplomatic efforts to end the war; a continuation of the humanitarian aid offered throughout Syria; and constructively working with the United Nations to explore the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire.
In recent weeks Staffan de Mistura (the UN Special Envoy) published a new proposal partly based on a Russian document for a timeframe setting out constitutional reform in the country lasting a total of 18 months. De Mistura’s proposals called for talks between the opposition and the Government to commence on 1 January with a transnational government established within 6 months – with the 30 June 2016 being the deadline. Thereafter fresh elections will take place within 18 months whereby Assad’s future will also be decided.
I have received representations from many of you who are deeply concerned about the aftermath of our involvement but it is important to remember that for the past 14 months the British Government has been carrying out air strikes in Iraq. Non-involvement does not make us safer. In fact we will probably be less safe as terrorism will to grow and develop in Syria. I share the sentiments of the Prime Minister who has been very clear that “sub-contracting” our security will see Britain retreat from the world stage a position I would not like to see.
The proposals that have been laid down in Vienna and the subsequent measures announced by the UN Special Envoy clearly state a planned route of post war reconstruction. I will be sure, over the coming months, to scrutinise the work of the British Government and ensure the actions taken by the allied forces and the events thereafter lead to a safer Syria and the defeat of Daesh.