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Following the atrocious attacks in Paris, the UK Government appears to be on the brink of military intervention in Syria. In the absence of either a UN mandate or a coherent political strategy to end the civil war, I am not convinced that either air strikes or ground troops would bring stability to the region. Indeed, it is highly likely to lead to more civilian casualties and trauma. I am committed to a peaceful resolution to the increasing violence in the region.
At the SNP conference in October, a motion opposing UK participation in ongoing military action in Syria was backed unanimously. The motion stated that any airstrikes by the UK would be “militarily irrelevant” when American, Russian, Arabic, Turkish and French forces are already taking place. The motion calls for the UK government to support a renewed diplomatic initiative and recognise that only United Nations sponsored action will have the international consensus needed to bring the conflict and the humanitarian crisis that accompanies it to an end.
The SNP has been clear that it is prepared to listen to the Prime Minister’s case on military intervention. However, as well as its legality, he must address the efficacy of military intervention and how it will contribute to a wider initiative to end civil war and secure reconstruction. So far the case has not been made that the UK adding to the bombing of Syria will make any material difference in the campaign against Daesh.
On Friday 20th November, the UN Security council passed an enabling resolution demonstrating that the international community are willing to work together in shared opposition to Daesh. However, it was not a Chapter VII resolution requiring combined UN action to enforce peace in Syria. The Prime Minister should not therefore take it as authorisation for UK military action, which must be in line with international law.
We need to argue for policies which focus on the needs of the Syrian people and take on the tough role of being a major sponsor for peace and diplomacy. This has to include as much of the international community as possible to have any chance of achieving lasting political change in the region. The UK is currently chairing the Security Council and should do much more to use its role to show urgency, to build on the peace plan which was started in Vienna last weekend, and to develop the plan for peace and reconstruction. Immediately this should involve a ceasefire among all non-Daesh forces in Syria as proposed by the U.S. Secretary of State this week.
You're totally right. The battle against Daesh is a battle for hearts and minds, as well as simply an armed confrontation. The best way to battle this miserable organisation is to prove on a daily basis that Muslim people are equal and respected members of our communities, and that we will collectively do everything we can to mitigate the horrors that Daesh has been perpetrating on both Muslim and non-Muslim people. Opening our hearts and homes to refugees is the first logical step any of us can take here. Bombing yet more people is only making the Daesh case against us stronger.
Time is running out for many of Edinburgh's small businesses. Today I've written to the Chancellor asking for additional emergency assistance for our hospitality sector through the COVID-19 epidemic.