Tag Archives: syria

Five years into a revolution betrayed – Liberal Democrats need to build links with Syrians

Syrians

Note, this post contains descriptions of torture that some readers may find distressing.

Five years ago, on Friday 18th March 2011, Syrian civilians in the southern town of Deraa took to the streets to demand freedom, dignity and a fair future. The regime of Bashar al-Assad and his coterie responded immediately with deadly force, and over the following weeks more and more protesters were shot down, more and more mourners were murdered while attending funerals and more and more innocent Syrians were rounded up for torture – in many cases never to be seen again.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Lib Dems call for Syria action update

Yesterday in the House of Commons the Liberal Democrats demanded an urgent update on the military situation in Syria and the ability for MPs to hold the government to account.

As part of the debate last year on military action in Syria, we said that we wanted to see regular updates to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister agreed to give quarterly statements. Three months on, it is time for David Cameron to stick to his promise.

Parliamentary questions have uncovered the UK military airstrikes in Syria have totalled 43 targets in Syria in three months and 319 Daesh targets in Iraq.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It is critical that wherever our Armed Forces are in active combat that the government is as open as possible about the progress of that activity. Parliament voted to support the extension of airstrikes to Syria on the basis that we would be provided with regular updates, and 3 months on from that vote it is time for the government to deliver that promise.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Paddy on “moral duty” to save starving Syrians

Paddy Ashdown has teamed up with Labour MP and former Oxfam staffer Jo Cox to make the case for urgent action to help not just those people suffering in Madaya but the 1 million Syrians suffering the effects of sieges. They wrote in the Telegraph:

The UN estimates that 400,000 people have been systematically denied food, medicine and water in medieval siege conditions in Syria: the real figure is probably nearer to one million. Meanwhile the Syrian Government plays grandmothers footsteps with the international community: besiege a city, wait for the political pressure to build, make limited or phoney concessions, and then, when everyone has lost interest, continue as before. Last year the UN made 91 requests of the Syrian government to secure humanitarian access across conflict lines. Less than a third of those have been approved. In total, only 13 cross-line convoys were completed.

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Syrian Conflict: What is the strategy for dealing with the failure of the Vienna talks?

 

I opposed the government’s (and this party’s) support for air strikes against ISIS in Syria not because I think there is a credible alternative to confronting them militarily, nor because I don’t wish to stand with our allies, nor because I doubt that air strikes helped saved large numbers of Kurdish lives in both Iraq and Syria. I opposed them because while they can and ought to be part of a strategy for defeating ISIS, the government’s Syria policy is full of contradictions and I don’t think it can succeed. Largely because it does not put the protection of civilian life in Syria at its heart and so will not mesh with the priorities of the people living and dying in the country.

While a lot of the recent debate has been about UK politics, principles, pacifism, opportunism, leadership and rebellion, comparatively little was actually said about Syria and even less was heard from actual Syrians. Faith in the Vienna peace talks as being the only or at least best chance for a negotiated peace is misplaced. This statement from Syrian community representatives in the UK makes the case eloquently: 

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron: Give willing UK families a chance to foster refugee children

Tim Farron has written for Politics Home to explain why he’s put forward a Bill to ensure that this country takes 3000 unaccompanied refugee children:

But tens and thousands of children travel alone. They are without parents or relatives, and have made their way to Europe in the toughest of circumstances.

It is this particularly vulnerable group which our bill aims to support. The bill would award of asylum-seeker status in the United Kingdom to certain unaccompanied children from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Eritrea displaced by conflict and present within the European Union

I know that there are enough families willing to foster an unaccompanied child. For example, Home for Good has registered 10,000 prospective adoptive families. Although they will not be ready to step up immediately, if the Government supports local authorities and agencies to provide the requisite training the UK will be well equipped to support these children.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

The crisis in the Middle East – Is this the ‘end of the beginning’?

 

As the tide of war turned in 1942 following the second battle of El Alamein, Winston Churchill spoke about “the end of the beginning” of the fight back against fascist oppression. I have to confess that these words went through my mind as I sat through many hours of TV parliamentary debate last Wednesday on whether or not to bomb Daesh in Syria. For those who are cynical about the goings on at Westminster, this was an occasion that illustrated perfectly how important our parliamentary democracy really is.

There were some cracking speeches on both sides. Tim Farron rose in my estimation with his contribution, as did Margaret Beckett and Alan Johnson and, as for Hilary Benn, could this be the end of the beginning of his march to the leadership of his party? I noticed that one critic claimed it was short on facts; but there are times when “fight them on the breaches” carries more emotional and symbolic weight than the practicality of fighting on sand. I just  wonder whether the reaction to his speech had anything to do with the shoring up of Labour’s majority in the Oldham by-election.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 20 Comments

Vince Cable writes…Where we can all agree on Syria

The political debate on Syria has produced a bewildering array of people proceeding from the same premises to opposite conclusions and from different premises to the same conclusions.   We have an ‘anti-war’ coalition which unites Nigel Farage, David Davis, Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP, the Greens and the Mail and the ‘pro-war’ camp includes the Tory government, a sizeable chunk of the parliamentary Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Financial Times and the Indy.

At recent party events I have attended there is disquiet and confusion.  I see that two thirds of Lib Dem Voice readers oppose the British air strikes. Veterans of Iraq war marches ask why we are not marching again to recapture one of the party’s finest hours.  I share some of the confusion no longer having the benefit of participating in discussions amongst parliamentary colleagues. I have had the benefit of Cabinet-level briefings, which led me to endorse air strikes 18 months ago; but much has changed since.

It would be useful to identify a series of propositions on which I believe most reasonable people, on either side of the debate, can agree.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 40 Comments
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  • User AvatarGlenn 30th Apr - 5:59am
    Tsar Nicholas, I sort of agree. To me what's happening is that, for want of a better word, progressive politics has cut itself of from...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 29th Apr - 11:17pm
    Good stuff. This is something the party needs to do a lot of thinking about. I suspect that the more thought there is, and the...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 29th Apr - 11:07pm
    @Jane: "We could have done this ourselves outside the EU." No we couldn't. Or only for calls made in the UK. We could not regulate...
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 29th Apr - 9:37pm
    @John Marriott I wonder if you have ever served on a jury. If you have then you should understand the necessity of making the grave...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 29th Apr - 9:37pm
    Andy Allen Tax rates are an important part of fiscal and monetary policy , now devolved , as for constitutional matters the only one the...
  • User AvatarEd Maxfield 29th Apr - 9:33pm
    :-)