Local Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards took an opportunity to question the Prime Minister last week to call for greater diplomatic pressure on government forces which are killing those already trying to stop Daesh, more commonly known as Islamic State or ISIL, in Syria and Iraq.
During a Prime Ministerial statement on the recent G20 Summit and Paris attacks last Tuesday, Mr Edwards referred to the more successful efforts of Peshmerga – the military forces of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan – in taking on ISIL.
Peshmerga are said to have played a key role in the mission to capture Saddam Hussein and the death of Osama Bin Laden. Since ISIL launched a large scale attack against Iraqi Kurdistan in August last year, Peshmerga and other Kurdish forces have waged an all-out war against ISIL.
Jonathan Edwards said the efforts of Peshmerga are being undermined by Turkey – a NATO ally of the UK – who are bombing the Kurds. Mr Edwards asked the Prime Minister what greater diplomatic pressure could be put on the UK’s allies who are undermining the capabilities of those already trying to defeat Islamic State.
Speaking more broadly after his question to the Prime Minister, Mr Edwards said the drums of war were already beating in Westminster following the tragic events in Paris last weekend. Despite his strong criticism of the UK Government’s position in Iraq and Syria, the Plaid Cymru MP did support military action in Libya, and said he wanted to see all avenues exhausted before a vote on further military intervention in Syria was brought before MPs.
Mr Edwards said the UK needs to act within international law and seek support for a United Nations resolution.
The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP said:
“Events in Paris last week have had a profound effect on us all. The acts of terrorism were the unjustified, barbaric cold-blooded murder of innocent people.
“A natural reaction is to seek revenge and wipe these people off the face of the earth. It is difficult to disagree with that sentiment. But we are not fighting a country or an army. Our enemy is a sadistic ideology which manifests itself into a different form every time bombs are dropped. Today we have ISIL/Daesh, before that it was Al Qaeda, and before that, the Taliban. As I have said before: bombs will kill terrorists but they will not stop terrorism.
“I have voted for military action in the past. I supported sending UK troops to Libya – a vote I have regretted ever since. There was no clear strategy for a post-Gadaffi country. Regime change, it seems, was the sole objective of the mission. The power vacuum which now exists there has seen ISIL take hold in the region.
“ISIL does not recognise borders. If military intervention is the best course of action to tackle ISIL, then our forces will need to be sent to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other north-African countries. This doesn’t include, of course, the more real problem of ‘home-grown’ terrorism. French nationals were responsible for last week’s attacks. British nationals were responsible for the 7/7 bombings in London. Tackling the root causes of terrorism within our own borders is fundamental to stopping any further attacks.
“I am prepared to listen to the Prime Minister’s case for military intervention. But he needs to stop the grandstanding, desist from being an armchair general and do what can actually make a difference.
“For a start this should include diplomatic pressure on our supposed NATO allies of Turkey who are bombing the Peshmerga forces. The Peshmerga have waged an all-out-war on ISIL and it is ludicrous that our ally is undermining their capabilities. Additionally, we must stop Saudi Arabia – another ally of the UK – from funding ISIL. Doing just these won’t stop terrorism, of course, but they will certainly help the cause.
“The Prime Minister must secure a United Nations resolution. To act without it would be to act outside international law. Mr Cameron must also present to MPs the strategy he wishes to take, and how he intends to tackle the greater threat of home-grown terrorism here in the UK.
“I’d like to assure my constituents that my office door is open to anyone who wishes to discuss with me their views. The drums of war are beating in Westminster but I believe there are other ways, in the first place at least, that need to be exhausted to stop these evil and heinous crimes before more bombs are dropped.”
Notes to Editor:
The transcript of Jonathan Edwards’ question to the Prime Minister last week is below:
Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): Arguably the more successful forces against Daesh on the ground in Iraq and Syria have been the peshmerga. What diplomatic pressure can the UK Government put on certain allies who are undermining their capabilities?
The Prime Minister: We are doing everything we can to help their capabilities—training, ammunition and logistical support are coming from us, from the Germans and from the Americans. Obviously, we need to work very hard with all the countries in the region to recognise that the Kurds are our allies in this fight, not least because they are taking it directly to ISIL and saving civilian lives.