It is time for Britain to start air strikes on Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron tells the House of Commons. Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn fears lessons haven’t been learnt from previous Western intervention in the Middle East.
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (NOVEMBER 26, 2015) (PARLIAMENT TV) – British Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers on Thursday (November 26) it was time to join air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, saying the country cannot “be content with out-sourcing our security to our allies”.
Cameron, who lost a vote on air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in 2013, needs to persuade several lawmakers in his own Conservative Party and some in the opposition Labour Party to back his cause if he is to win parliament’s backing for military action.
Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee criticised extending air strikes into Syria earlier this month, saying that without a clear strategy to defeat the militants and end the civil war such action was “incoherent”.
But since Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing 130 people in Paris, some lawmakers who were reluctant to launch new strikes in Syria have increasingly felt action was needed to protect Britain from such attacks.
“If we believe that action can help protect us, then with our allies we should be part of that action not standing aside from it. And from this moral point comes a fundamental question: If we won’t act now, when our friend and ally France has been struck in this way, then our allies in the world can be forgiven for asking ‘If not now, when?'” asked Cameron in the House of Commons.
The prime minister argued that Britain does not have the luxury of waiting until their is a political settlement in Syria.
“Working with a new representative government is the way to eradicate ISIL in Syria in the long-term. But can we wait for that to happen before we take military action? I say we can’t.”
But he pledged not to put Syrian air strikes to a vote unless he was sure he would win: “Because we will not hand a publicity coup to ISIL.”
Cameron will have to convince lawmakers that extending the air strikes will not mean that Britain becomes an even greater target for attacks. Militants downed a Russian airliner after Moscow launched strikes on Syria, killing all 224 on board.
Thirty Conservative lawmakers voted against the motion for military intervention in Syria in August 2013.
“We can’t wait for a political transition, we have to hit these terrorists in their heartlands right now. And we must not shirk our responsibility for security or hand it to others. Throughout our history the United Kingdom has stood up to defend our values and our way of life. We can and we must do so again,” said Cameron summing up his case.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran anti-war campaigner, said he was reluctant to support the strikes without a political plan for Syria, fearful more bombing would complicate the more than 4-1/2 year civil war.
He asked the prime minister: “Without credible or acceptable ground forces isn’t the logic of an intensified air campaign mission creep and western boots on the ground? Can he today rule out the deployment of British ground forces to Syria?”
“In the light of the record of Western military intervention in recent years, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, does the prime minister accept that the UK bombing of Syria could risk more of what President Obama called ‘unintended consequences’ and that a lasting defeat of ISIL can only be secured by Syrians and their forces within the region?” said Corbyn.
Cameron guaranteed there were no plans for British or Western ground troops in Syria.
Lawmakers will have a few days to mull over Cameron’s case and a vote could take place early next week.