David Cameron’s plans to launch airstrikes in Syria are already facing a rebellion of around 20% of his party membership, but now the powerful Foreign Affairs Select Committee has voted against the proposed airstrikes.
The Foreign Affairs Select Committee is chaired by Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, and has a majority of Conservative members – yet this evening, the powerful committee has defied the government and expressed their opposition to the planned strikes. A Conservative member of the committee, John Baron MP, has written a piece for The Guardian outlining the reasons for the no vote.
The piece, entitled ‘I’ll defy my party leader, and vote against Syria airstrikes’ argues Mr Cameron has failed to learn the lessons of previously failed interventions in the Middle East, and is doomed to repeat them if he proceeds with the airstrikes. The MP writes:
“Though the government has precipitated another rush into military action, it has not yet constructed a realistic long-term strategy to destroy Daesh/Isis. On a recent visit to Middle Eastern capitals with the foreign affairs select committee, the officials we met were concerned we risk making the same mistakes as we made in our previous military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan (post-2006) and Libya.”
And as for Cameron’s claim that 70,000 moderate Syrian ground troops are ready to take care of the ‘boots on the ground’ element of the war? John Baron MP confirms that on recent visits, his committee were informed there were precious few ‘moderates’ in Syria, and even the most moderate groups are unaligned and often fighting each other too. The result of placing our hopes on this fractured and incoherent opposition would, argues Baron, be to repeat the mistakes of the past:
“The government has forgotten the lessons of Libya, where the anti-Gaddafi forces splintered into a thousand militias the moment the common enemy was defeated. A fresh civil war has been a result. Syria would be similar, but on a grand scale.”
In short, the sum total of Britain’s planned intervention in Syria, would be to kick start yet another phase of civil war. This would just as likely strengthen ISIS/Daesh, as weaken them – killing yet more civilians in the process.
This last minute call to common sense by the Conservative-led committee should act as a sobering force on Labour and Conservative MPs alike as they head to the debate and vote on Wednesday. The reckless meddling of the Bush/Blair coalition helped create the crisis in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Let us hope wiser heads prevail this time around.