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Stop the War Statement: Hilary Benn's plan for UK military intervention in Syria

Hilary Benn, UK shadow foreign secretary, has today urged the British government to work “tirelessly” to get a United Nations resolution to authorise British participation in a new bombing campaign in Syria, already the most over-bombed country in the planet.

And he has promised to “look at the position again” if the UN does not agree to such attacks, which is being understood to indicate a willingness to go to war anyway, as in 2003.

His statement is clearly at odds with the anti-war resolution passed at Labour’s conference last month.  Equally clearly, he is encouraging David Cameron to bring forward proposals to the Commons to involve Britain in a fourth Middle East war in twelve years.

Two years ago MPs voted against bombing Syria, which would then have been targeted at Syrian government forces. 

Today, it is unclear whether Mr Benn wants bombing of Islamic State sites in Syria, or if he is seeking to police civilian “safe havens”.

Neither will work.  The Islamic State needs defeating – but this can only be done by the people of the region themselves. Rather than bombing by outside powers, efforts should be made to stop countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Nato member Turkey giving aid, arms and logistical  support to IS.

Bombing will kill more civilians, multiply the number of refugees and drive new support into the arms of Islamic State.

Likewise establishing no-fly zones or safe havens – difficult under any circumstances – would risk a military confrontation with Russia and the Assad government. No-fly zones or safe havens would therefore themselves require further military intervention in a country already bombed by a number of different countries.

The pressing need in Syria is for an end to the civil war.  This requires a serious diplomatic and political process without pre-conditions and an end to all foreign military interference in Syria. 

There is no humanitarian solution which can be achieved by more bombing, or by further stoking up the civil war.

Hilary Benn and all Labour MPs should learn from the history of the calamitous interventions in Iraq and Libya and be supporting Labour’s conference policy and pushing for a peaceful settlement, not more war.

Source: Stop the War Coalition