The war in Syria

The pace is quickening over possible UK military intervention in Syria.

I have set out the worries I have about bombing, and explained why I think there needs to be a proper peace process. To tackle ISIL on the ground there also needs to be local ground forces capable of doing the job. I have put these points directly to Ministers, and they are seeking to improve their responses to these legitimate concerns. We also need to redouble our security at our borders and strengthen our intelligence at home, as some extremists may be in our own community, where we wish to proceed by arrest, trial or deportation. I have asked for this, and the government has announced measures to improve our internal response.

I think we all agree that ISIL are a dangerous and violent group who do pose a threat to us in the UK as well as to many in Syria and Iraq. That is not in contention. Nor do most worry about killing violent men who have themselves already murdered people and plan to murder more, if there is no safe means of arresting and prosecuting them in the normal way.

The issues that remain relate to how UK bombing alongside French and US bombing that has been happening for some time will make the difference, who finds the targets and directs the bombers, who will act as the ground force needed to carry out the task of removing ISIL from Syria, who amongst the warring factions are our reliable allies if we intervene, and how will the peace process progress.

I would be interested in constituents views on all this as we approach a possible vote on the UK joining the allied air action.

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5 Comments

  1. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted November 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    If we are persuaded to drop bombs on fighters hiding in tunnels will the expense be taken from the foreign aid budget?

  2. Antisthenes
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    As distasteful as it maybe we have to factor in leaving Assad in place Hollande is intimating as much as he leads the way in cosying up to another distasteful man Putin. For practical purposes we have to cooperate with those we would rather not. We already do it with likes of Saudi Arabia. Always have and always will when it is in our interests to do so. I believe it is always in our interests to engage with the unsavoury unless they are a direct threat to us. I suspect all of the West will eventually come around to accepting that Assad is the key to defeating ISIL You want boots on the ground then that is the best place to find them; Assad’s army and without civil war many thousands more from amongst the rebel groups. Of course Assad will have to be convinced to make peace with most of the other factions he is engaged in a civil war with and they with him.

    Working on the premise that the grand coalition to defeat ISIL has to include Russia and Assad then the political process can be started. It will have many benefits. Assad and his enemies will have to find a political settlement anyway that includes governance of Syria that all can accept short of his complete removal. Putin maybe persuaded to get out of Eastern Ukraine as a condition of working with him he does have serious economic difficulties at home and he maybe pliable on this point and relations between the West and Putin can be normalised which he also needs to help his economy.

    So we should now show solidarity and get on with bombing ISIL in Syria and at the same time start the political process as complicated as it is. Of course it is not going to be very happy state of affairs as we will be allying with those we despise and who despise us and in all probability when it is all over we will be back trying to eliminate each other. Although there is an opportunity whilst allied to enter into dialogue and find ways to to live in peaceful coexistence. Still the West allied with Stalin did not lead to that outcome in fact the very opposite occurred. Hopefully history will not repeat itself although it does have a nasty habit of doing so.

  3. DaveM
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    John,

    I’m not a constituent but my parents are and I’m sure you’re aware of my background by now.

    There are hundreds of possibilities for defeating IS on the ground, but what worries me is the western attitude towards Russia, particularly now they are squabbling with Turkey. Joining with the Russians, US, and France is the easiest and quickest way to destroy this evil. However, whether or not it is an attitude led by Germany and the EU, the favouring of Turkey (whose attitude towards islamism in general, and our best hope for proxy forces, ie the Kurds is contrary to our values as a nation) can only be detrimental not only to the defeat of IS but also to future European stability.

  4. Tony Houghton
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    John

    As I have advised you already I do not believe attacks by air should be used because of collateral damage. The only way to prevent the killing of innocent civilians is to send coalition troops into Syria.

  5. lojolondon
    Posted November 28, 2015 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    John, I think this is totally crazy. When I hear that there are 11 countries in an alliance, all bombing the desert, it is completely obvious that we can bring no value whatsoever, except bragging rights. Indeed, it is very likely we will make things worse, getting in the way of the Russians who seem to deliver far more bang for the buck than any of the Western forces. Perhaps we could help with intelligence, by finding out exactly who is buying oil from the Daesh and stopping their supply lines, etc. At the same time, we should withdraw every military person currently overseas and bring them back to Blighty, and ensure that we absolutely have forces on the ground to deal fast with any situation. A good place to start would be on the Kent and Essex beaches, if people living there know that boats are dropping men off there around midnight every night, surely our defence force can get on top of this fairly easily? Lastly I want to express my great disappointment with the situation between Russia, NATO and Turkey. The White House actually defended the fact that Russian airmen were executed while descending by parachute, it is quite clear how angry the USA would be if it was THEIR airmen. Russia is the only country doing anything against Daesh, and anyone who gets in their way is acting against the best interests of Britain.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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