I was strongly opposed to military action in Syria and voted and spoke against the Government position on this issue. In considering military action in Parliament I ask myself if the people against whom action is proposed pose a threat to the UK and if the action we are taking is likely to lead to a better situation for the population of that country.
I do not believe that Assad’s Baathist regime poses a threat to the West and whilst I acknowledge the appalling human rights abuses that have taken place under his leadership I did not and do not see any obviously better alternative.
When I visited Syria a few years ago one Christian leader told me bluntly that Assad’s enemies would destroy his community. Sadly his worst fears seem to be coming to fruition.
I therefore believe I was right to vote against military action in Syria. I see the situation in Iraq very differently. ISIS is much more than a criminal gang. It is a religious movement whose followers believe that they have the right to murder those who oppose their version of Islam and to sell women and children as slaves. Their stated wish is to impose their warped religious beliefs onto others including in Europe and a number of them are British citizens who may well seek to return here and continue carrying out the atrocities which we have seen in Iraq and Syria. At present in Iraq they are fighting the one part of this country which actually works well – the Kurdistan region.
Therefore asking the question do these people pose a threat to the UK? and would their removal make life better for people in the area? My answers are different. ISIS do pose a direct threat to the UK, and removing them would unquestionably make life better for people in that region. I would therefore give full support to the Government if they decide on some form of military action.
I can assure you that I do not arrive lightly at this decision. Also I have visited the region on a number of occasions over the last 9 years and have taken a keen interest in the situation there.