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If MPs vote to bomb Syria, they will ignore the woeful legacy of UK war policies

Parliament rejected British bombing in Syria, but David Cameron hopes to win a second vote when MPs return next week.


TOP of the agenda at this week's UN meeting in New York is the catastrophic war in Syria.

After four years of civil war, the country has seen many casualties, huge numbers of refugees and the rise of Islamic State (Isis). Syria is now effectively partitioned, with Bashar al-Assad's regime controlling only a fifth of the area, and with large parts in the hands of Isis.

The explosion of the refugee crisis in Europe over the summer, plus the greater intervention of Russia in order to shore up Assad, has brought the matter to a head.

Yet despite the talk of political and diplomatic solutions, bombing is still very much on the agenda if David Cameron has his way.

The Tory government is desperate to escalate its intervention in the Middle East once again. In 2013 Cameron attempted to win a vote in Parliament to bomb, but was defeated.

Then his target was Assad: this time he wants to bomb Assad's opponent, Isis. The only consistency lies in the fact that in either case his solution is bombing.

Cameron is pushing for another vote on military escalation, and is likely to table such a vote when Parliament resumes sitting in October.

Stepping up intervention in Syria will only increase the violence, chaos and suffering there. It will also lead to an increase in the number of people fleeing the already war-torn country.

Every intervention has led to death, injury, a massive refugee problem and continuing war in the countries affected.

Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are all still war-torn, and are all the source of huge numbers of refugees. They give the lie to the idea that Britain's involvement is humanitarian — it is about military and political power and strategic control of the Middle East.

Britain has been the most aggressive country in Europe over the last 15 years, leading military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Yet it has done little to help the victims of the wars it so enthusiastically pursues and it has been at the forefront of opposing a humane policy towards refugees.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has broken the cross-party consensus which has prevailed for most of the past decade and a half, with Labour and the Tories both supporting wars (the vote by Labour against the bombing in 2013 was a rare if welcome exception).

Jeremy faces the prospect of a number of his own MPs breaking ranks and supporting the Tories, something that makes it imperative that there is not a free vote allowed by Labour on this.

A resolution to Labour conference this week opposes bombing unless a number of stringent conditions are met — a scenario that is highly unlikely. If this resolution is passed then all Labour MPs should respect party policy and oppose Cameron's bombing.

It also makes it imperative that those who oppose war do everything they can to make their views known to MPs of all parties, but especially to Labour MPs.

The Stop the War Coalition lobbying tool is a quick and easy way of doing this. Everyone can use the online link in two minutes to send a message to their MP calling on them to vote against military intervention. Already more than 1,600 people have done so, and we are encouraging many more to take this step.

It is not, of course, the only way in which we are campaigning. We will have a contingent at the TUC demonstration at the Tory conference this Sunday in Manchester. We are also planning a lobby of Parliament, political meetings, a petition and street protests against the bombing.

But even if you can't attend any of those, you can send your MP a message.

Another destructive bombing campaign is no solution whatsoever. It will increase the number of refugees and help to fuel further terrorism. Tell your MP to stand against further military escalation in Syria and prevent another disastrous intervention.

  • Lindsey German is convener of the Stop the War Coalition.
  • You can go to the lobbying tool at Stop Bombing Syria. You can join Stop the War Coalition here....

Source: Morning Star