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Don’t bomb Syria. Write to your MP.

Caroline Lucas has joined with Brian Eno, Frankie Boyle, John Pilger, Jeremy Hardy, Mark Serwotka, Tariq Ali, Kate Hudson, Andrew Murray and any more, in writing a letter to beg the Prime Minister not to ahead with the bombing of Syria.

Here is the letter in full.

Caroline Lucas MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Dear Prime Minister,

The current rush to bomb Syria following the terrible events in Paris risks a dangerous escalation which will inflame the war there and increase bitterness against the West. The US has been bombing Isis for a year and admits that Isis is as strong as ever and has continued recruiting.

The experience of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that Western military interventions lead to large scale casualties, devastating destruction and huge flows of refugees.

Far from tackling terrorism, the last fourteen years of war have seen massively increased Jihadi terrorist organisation around the world.

Rather than ignoring this recent history by joining the long list of countries that have bombed Syria in the last year, we urge the government to stop arming reactionary and aggressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that sponsor terrorist groups and look for political solutions as the only viable way to end the conflict.

Mark Rylance, Brian Eno, Frankie Boyle, John Pilger, Francesca Martinez, Jeremy Hardy, Caroline Lucas MP, Arthur Smith, Miriam Margolyes, John Hilary, Michael Rosen, Mark Serwotka, Tariq Ali, Victoria Britain, Manuel Cortez, Christine Shawcroft, Prof Ray Bush, David Gentleman, Lindsey German, Kate Hudson, Andrew Murray, Logic (Musician), Prof John Kinsella

Tomorrow (Saturday 28th Nov 11am) there is a demonstration in Sheffield to stop the bombing.

In Sheffield many Green Party members have already written to their MP asking them to vote against the bombing. Please use this letter to help you compose your own letter to your MP. Or if you are really pressed for time Stop the War have prepared  a model letter  that you can send immediately.

One local member wrote

Dear ……..MP

Will you vote to oppose bombing of Syria?

I am very heartened to hear Jeremy Corbyn’s voice on  the radio opposing air strikes on Isis and urging caution not to escalate violence and revenge.  I am full of admiration in the way he responds calmly with clarity, sanity and integrity.

My reasons for opposing any bombing of Isis is wanting to stop the likely suffering by the people bombed and caught in the destruction, and a basic belief that only non-violent solutions and justice can bring a lasting peace. I also think bombing ISIS is strategically very rash. I was strongly opposed to the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.    We have seen the disaster and ongoing conflicts and destruction of anything that can be called civil society that bombing Iraq and Afghanistan have led to. I believe that joining the French in retaliatory bombing of ISIS will lead to more civilian deaths and suffering in Syria, it will be recruiting propaganda for young Muslims here in the UK, and damage our community relations.  It will also lead to putting UK citizens at risk from retaliatory attacks from terrorists in the UK. It will push back any humanitarian response to the refugee crisis and take the focus off the impetus to work together for a just and effective climate treaty.

I agree that ISIS is a threat to lives and human rights and needs to be stopped, but wonder if the non violent ways have been explored. Maybe it is possible to find out which countries are funding ISIS? I think Saudi Arabia may be involved? Also which countries are buying the oil ISIS is selling from territories in Northern Iraq? Turkey has been mentioned.

I  think the main beneficiary of this dreadful state of affairs is the arms trade.

I look forward to hearing your response and to know whether you are able to support Jeremy Corbyn and a non violent pathway to peace and justice in the Middle East.

Yours sincerely

 

Topics: City Wide, Heather Hunt, War and Disarmament

There are 3 Responses to Don’t bomb Syria. Write to your MP.

2nd December 2015

Here is a reply from Paul Blomfield. (Sheffield Central Labour) He still seems to be making up his mind.

Thank you for contacting me about extending the mandate for RAF air strikes against Daesh (ISIS) into Syria, on which the Prime Minister made a statement last Thursday Clearly the situation in Syria is extremely serious and, most importantly, desperate for the people of the country. As you would expect, I have thought long and hard about the issue and am grateful for you sharing your views.

The decision on Syria does raise wider issues about how we should respond to humanitarian crises, and when military action can be justified to save lives and protect human rights. My approach is that, although I respect the view of those who are oppose all military action, I think that each case has to be considered on its own merits. So, while I was deeply opposed to the 2003 action in Iraq, for example, I was proud of our military intervention in former Yugoslavia which saved thousands of lives by halting the Serbian-led genocide aimed at Bosnian Muslims. I also fully supported the military action in Sierra Leone, which ended an appalling civil war and re-established democracy in the country.

In relation to other countries in the Middle East, I accept that the situation in Afghanistan is still unstable, but I do think that the military action against the Taliban was justifiable following the unprovoked attack by Al Qaeda on the Twin Towers in New York in which almost 3,000 people of all faiths and nationalities were murdered – as Al Qaeda were based in Afghanistan and sheltered by the Taliban at the time. Again, although there is a desperate situation in Libya today, we have to recognise that military action in 2011 was in response to requests from opposition forces in the country to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians from bombing by the Gaddafi regime. Indeed I was lobbied very strongly in favour of intervention by the Libyan community in Sheffield, who supported the democratic opposition, and who you may remember protesting outside the Town Hall at the time.

I am sure that we would agree that Daesh is an extraordinarily malevolent force, with no regard for human rights. We have all been appalled by the brutality that they have shown towards all people with which they disagree, their glorification of their shocking violence, the systematic imprisonment and rape of women and their brutal homophobic murders. In the face of their activities, I believe that it is justifiable to act to end the misery that Daesh have caused in the region, and the threat that they pose to the region and internationally – something underlined by the tragic events in Paris, which were justified by Daesh as an attack on “apostates gathered in a profligate prostitution party”.

In considering the issue of extending the action against Daesh from Iraq into Syria, the question for me therefore is whether the proposed action will be effective and carried out in such a way that it will do more good than harm. In the case of the action in Iraq, I think that this has been the case. The air strikes, combined with action by Kurdish ground troops, stopped the advance of Daesh and has now seen them removed from Sinjar, where the liberating forces have discovered mass graves of their victims. Turning to Syria, I opposed military intervention against the Assad regime, because I wasn’t convinced that it would have made a bad situation better and I will judge any proposal to extend action against Daesh into Syria in the same way.

On behalf of Labour, Jeremy Corbyn and Hilary Benn have pressed the Government to focus on securing international agreement on a plan to end the Syrian civil war – which has created the chaos, fear and violence in which Daesh has thrived and which has led to a large number of refugees seeking shelter in Europe – and to end the threat from Daesh. We have also called on the Government to take more refugees from Syria, and communities up and down the country are preparing to welcome them after the horrors they have faced.

We have been critical of the Government’s narrow focus on possible UK involvement in air strikes and have called for a more comprehensive plan to end the civil war in Syria and to defeat Daesh, making the point that aerial bombing by itself cannot defeat Daesh in Syria. It was an integrated ground/air campaign, involving a number of countries, which enabled the Kurdish Peshmerga to retake Sinjar. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee was also critical in this regard of the Government’s approach in its recent report.

Jeremy and Hilary argued for a UN Security Council Resolution which could cover both a peace process for Syria and action to end the threat from Daesh, and such a resolution was agreed unanimously a week ago – calling on “member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law ….. to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups …. and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”. At the second round of talks in Vienna, the outline of a Syrian peace plan emerged in which President Assad and certain opposition groups would start formal talks on 1st Jan about the formation of a transitional government prior to national elections. This would include a ceasefire, possibly with United Nations peacekeepers as an observer force. One major issue to be resolved is which opposition groups should take part. These groups would not include Daesh or Jabhat al-Nusra, with which there can clearly be no negotiation.

Getting a Syrian peace process going will help in the fight against Daesh because they thrive in the vacuum of governance and the chaos, fear and violence created by the Syrian civil war. It is important to note that over 90% of all civilian deaths in Syria – over 200,000 – are attributable to forces controlled or loyal to President Assad and half the population has fled their homes as a result of a civil war for which the ultimate blame lies wholly with Assad.

In addition to the current air strikes in Iraq, the UK is already contributing to action in Syria through intelligence, surveillance and refuelling using RAF drones and planes. After much uncertainty, the Government now seems likely to come forward with a proposal on extending this action in Syria to include airstrikes to Daesh targets in Syria. Last weekend the Prime Minister finally acknowledged the strength of the case that has been made by Jeremy Corbyn and Hilary Benn, and by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, when he told a press conference at the G20 summit in Turkey: “I think people want to know there is a whole plan for the future of Syria, for the future of the region. It is perfectly right to say a few extra bombs and missiles won’t transform the situation. The faster we degrade and destroy ISIL, the safer we will be. But we will only be safe in the longer term if we can replace ungoverned space by ISIL with a proper Syrian government.”

Last Thursday, in his statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister made his case that air strikes against Daesh are in the UK’s national interest and will reduce the threat from Daesh. As Labour has consistently said, we will consider the Government’s position against the tests we have set. Namely we need to be clear about what difference any extension of military action would make to our objective of defeating Daesh, the nature of any intervention, its objectives and the legal basis. Any potential action must command the support of other nations in the region, including Iraq and the coalition already taking action in Syria. And, crucially, it must be part of a wider and more comprehensive strategy to end the threat they pose. I am grateful for you sharing your views and so that I might understand your concerns better, perhaps you could let me know what you think on the following points:

· Are there any circumstances in which you would support military intervention in a foreign country?

· Do you support the air strikes in Iraq which have helped the Kurdish Peshmerga drive Daesh out of their communities?

· Do you think that no country should be taking military action against Daesh in Syria, or are your concerns primarily about UK involvement?

· Are there any circumstances in which you would support extending those air strikes against Daesh into Syria?

In addition to military action, I passionately believe that Britain should not turn its back on the Syrian people. I pressed the Government to sign us up to the UN Syrian Refugees programme, for example, and welcomed its U-turn on that issue. I have argued for a European solution to the refugee crisis, as you can read here. I will continue to monitor the situation and press the Government to ensure the UK lives up to its international obligations in respect of this crisis.

Thank you for contacting me on this very important matter.

Best wishes,

Paul

Paul Blomfield

Labour MP for Sheffield Central

2nd December 2015

Louise Haigh (Labour Heeley) is voting against the air strikes. http://www.louisehaigh.org.uk/syria

3rd December 2015

This is how the Sheffield MP’s voted.
For Bombing Syria
Nick Clegg
Angela Smith

Against Bombing Syria
Clive Betts
Paul Blomfield
Louise Haigh
Harry Harpham

Thank you to these four.

All comments welcome

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