The decision on whether or not the UK should partake in air strikes against Islamic State has been looming ominously over parliament all summer. The prospect of the UK once again becoming involved in any sort of military campaign in the Middle East is something I naturally consider to be an absolute final resort. You can read my article from mid-August which examines the origins of the conflict by clicking here.
Islamic State are a barbaric terrorist collective who successfully subverted an extremely volatile region by hijacking the power vacuum which stemmed from simultaneous civil wars in Iraq and Syria. Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians, Yazidi and Western hostages have all been callously murdered as a result and Islamic State’s aspirations frighteningly extend far beyond the Middle East. The Iraqi government have now formerly requested our assistance to restore their security and territorial integrity.
After a great deal of thought and with some foreboding, I shall today vote in favour of escalating our involvement beyond the humanitarian relief and intelligence sharing we have so far provided. The motion put before the House refers to air strikes in Iraq and further debates and votes would be required before deploying ground troops or extending operations into Syria.
I have two principal concerns which I believe must be addressed if Western intervention is to ultimately prove successful in bringing stability to the Middle East region:
- Broader military intervention must come with explicit endorsement from the United Nations. Today’s recall concerns a specific request from the Iraqi government. More generally our involvement cannot be allowed to be seen as siding with a cabal of Sunni States against Shia interests. Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as the powers in the region should ideally be leading the military efforts against Islamic State. The emergence of Islamic State provides an opportunity to unite the whole region, as well as the UN Security Council, against a common enemy. China and Russia, as longstanding supporters of the Assad regime in Syria, must also be brought on board if Islamic State are to be defeated in what is a complex cross-border conflict.
- We must level with the public from the outset that we have entered into this conflict and are now in it for the long haul. There will be no quick fix in the defeating of Islamic State. It is conceivable before this conflict is over we may have to commit to putting “boots on the ground” as part of a UN peacekeeping or humanitarian force. Special Forces may even be required.
Islamic State present a real threat to the security of the UK, especially here in central London, and I should not vote in favour of this motion on air strikes in Iraq if I did not consider it to be in our explicit national interest to do so.