Tag Archives: syria

Airstrikes Alone Will Not Solve the Syrian Crisis

Given the last two decades of failed interventions it is easy to understand why the majority of Britain is opposed to the recent intervention in Syria.

As liberals we must do all we can, as internationalists, to maintain peace around the globe. But also as liberals we cannot allow such abhorrent crimes to continue to be committed by the Assad regime. The silence of our inaction would have been deafening; five years of ignoring the conflict has led us to where we are today.

The scars of the Libyan intervention are still in the recent memories of the West, and conflict still plagues the nation, but our failures there cannot deter us from upholding our moral commitment to prevent war crimes and holding those who commit them to account. The Pro-Assad propaganda, backed by Russia and elements of the Labour party, are toxic: they stand in the way of any meaningful resolution in Syria, and more civilians will die if their interpretation of the war enters the mainstream of political thought.

We must look to our past if we are to make sure that we leave Syria a better place than it is now. The airstrikes are a short term solution, but they are only limiting Assad’s ability to launch another chemical attack, a noble cause but not a path to peace.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

Why is a parliamentary vote on military action necessary?

I have just come back from a wonderful week in the Highlands with only intermittent connection to the internet. The apologetic note from the housekeeper of our rented holiday cottage saying that the wifi was out of action was unexpected but very welcome. It was incredibly restorative to have a few days when the only thing I had to worry about (and this is not insignificant, I have to say) was the incredibly dim pheasants with no instinct of self preservation whatsoever that would blithely wander into the path of the car on the single track road to the cottage. Seriously, one of the little beasts held me up for three full minutes last night as my dinner was getting cold. Oh, and there was the irony of finding that Scottish Water, who have been delaying my commute with their roadworks in Edinburgh for nigh on half a year were also digging up the village on my twice daily route to the beach. The delays were substantially less, though.

My very grateful thanks and promises of beer and wine at a later date are due to Paul and Mary who kept the site going through mine and Kirsten’s absence this week.

Since we’ve been away, the horrific chemical attack in Syria has shocked, if not surprised, the world. When something like that happens, it’s so important to respond in a careful and considered way, with a proper plan that has the support of key international allies and, in our case, parliamentary approval. I know that we technically don’t have to have a parliamentary vote, but it sends a much stronger message if action is taken with the consent of a majority of members of Parliament. It lends a legitimacy to the proceedings.

Any Government sending our people into active service should have the democratic scrutiny of Parliament behind it. We live in a parliamentary democracy and the government shouldn’t avoid its responsibilities in that regard.

I am still not entirely sure whether I support the attack in principle. Of course anyone who gases their own people needs to be stopped and, frankly, sitting round a table and asking Assad nicely not to do it probably isn’t going to cut it. I think there is an argument for taking out the capability to produce and use these awful weapons. However, you have to be very sure that you aren’t going to make the situation worse for the people who live there.

Vince Cable’s statesmanlike approach to these issues has made me wish he were making the decisions rather than May and certainly the ever volatile Donald Trump. He has been reasonable, asking for evidence, a plan and a parliamentary vote and he’s been explaining today why he thinks that is so important:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

Letter to Vince Cable – UK military action in Syria is not justified

Embed from Getty Images
This letter is in response to Vince’s request for feedback on the Syrian question

Dear Vince Cable,

Thank you for giving we members an opportunity to forward our views to you on the possible military intervention by the UK in Syria.

This is an extremely difficult problem which seems to place us in a lose-lose situation. If we do not intervene we appear to stand by impotently whilst terrible wickedness takes place, including the internationally illegal use of chemical weapons. If we do intervene there is a strong possibility of making a bad situation worse, as has already happened in similar circumstances in Iraq and Libya.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 36 Comments

Wars are rackets – some more than others?

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. – – – It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

Smedley D. Butler

Major General Smedley knew what he was talking about. He achieved the highest rank possible in the US Marines and was the most decorated marine.
He said the only two reasons for armed conflict were the defence of our homes and of basic laws and rights. One is an external threat and the other is an internal threat. Currently we face the second.

The defence of one’s homes comes as a result of existential conflict. All other wars are optional.

Perhaps, there is more than one type of optional war.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

Taking action against Syria is not liberal interventionism

Embed from Getty Images

Watching the scenes of devastation and anarchy beamed at us nightly from Syria, the instant, understandable reaction is to demand that something must be done, and support UK military intervention in the country.

There is a debate for another time and another place about whether liberal interventionism is ever effective, even as it is often right.

The problem is taking action against Syria at this stage does not even qualify as liberal interventionism, for even if a coalition of the UK, France and the US were somehow, and against the odds, able to achieve through their military action a change in the direction in the present war in Syria, the outcome would not be liberal.

This is because if Assad falls, what will rise is either a fury of rival militia groups motivated by revenge and fuelled by the extremes of sectarianism, from such Hobbesian wars liberalism tends not to flourish.

Posted in Op-eds | 27 Comments

Vince Cable on Syria

In an email to members Vince Cable writes:

I am certain that you are as appalled as I am about the horrific scenes coming out of Syria.

The use of chemical weapons is barbaric. It is a crime against humanity and it is a clear violation of international law.

The Liberal Democrats are an internationalist, outward-looking party – and part of that is being willing to play our part in upholding international law.

In the next few days, it is possible the Government will ask MPs to decide on potential military action in Syria. This is not a decision we will ever make lightly.

As Leader, I want to be clear with you how I and our group in Parliament will make such a decision.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Tim’s best bits #2: That Syria vote

In December 2015, the House of Commons voted on whether to carry out airstrikes in Syria. Had I been a Liberal Democrat MP, I’d have voted against. However, Tim led 75% of ours through the voting lobbies in support of the Government’s plans.

I wrote about my mixed feelings at the time:

Yesterday, though, I could totally understand and empathise with our leader’s stance, driven as it was by the best of liberal, humanitarian and internationalist motivations. He made an absolute cracker of a speech, delivered with passion and confidence

I was glad, however, that my views were represented in the division lobbies by two of our MPs, Norman Lamb and Mark Williams. It’s a great credit to our party that we were able to debate this in a very serious manner and without rancour or recrimination.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: The fight for the spoils

Politics hates a vacuum. It especially hates a vacuum in the tinderbox cockpit of the Middle East where the conflicting issues of money, vital resources, religious extremism , religious conflicts, historic rivalries and the geopolitical link between East and West dangerously clash.

The virtual collapse in 2011-2012 of Bashar Al-Assad’s despotic regime in Syria created such a vacuum. It was filled by the even more despotic Islamic State Caliphate.

Now the Caliphate is on its knees.  The Western half of Mosul is recaptured.  Only a handful of IS fighters remain in the dangerously narrow winding streets of the Eastern half.

The fundamentalists once boasted that their Syrian-Iraqi base would become a springboard from which to launch an Islamic conquest of the Middle East and Europe. They  have retreated to their spiritual capital of Raqqa in Syria for the final battle to the death.

They will lose . But who will win? And what will they win? Assad, Russia, the US and its Western allies, Iraq, the Kurds, Turkey, Iran, a score  or more of rebel forces—all are directly involved in the fighting. Then there are there are the backers—or interested parties: Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar, Kuwait, the EU, the United Arab Emirates, Somalia, Afghanistan and the wider Islamic world.

It looks as if Assad will regain and remain in power for the foreseeable future—but he will be a political shadow of his former self.   Neither the Trump Administration nor any of its European or Arab allies have any stomach for removing a secular despot who can be replaced by another fanatic Islamic despot. And besides, he will have the military support of Iran and Russia.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Idlib gas attack? Is “Not Proven” currently the least worst verdict?

 

Scottish juries have the choice of three verdicts – Guilty, Not Guilty and Not Proven. This multiple choice is much more real to life than the “English” binary or oppositional choice of guilty or not guilty.

In non-judicial or “everyday terms” the Scottish three-way choice when facing a decision is “yes”; “no”; “I don’t know.” The Scottish choice seems to be closer to real life and so is worth using when considering and possibly taking action on matters of and relating to armed conflict which deals in death, mutilation, madness, theft and profit as well as, if not always, bravery and altruism.

Here are some questions and comments which appear to indicate that a Not Proven verdict is currently the most accurate fit before, it is hoped, an accurate analysis of responsibilities for the gas attacks is made.

How do we know what we are told and shown is reasonably genuine?

Posted in Op-eds | 78 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron: Why I support Trump’s Syria strike

Tim Farron has written for the Guardian about why he has decided to support the US action in Syria on Friday morning. There are caveats, though:

However, we disagree with the way in which he conducted it – unilaterally, without allies, outside of a wider strategy. Trump saw a wrong and wanted to react, no doubt in large part to differentiate himself from Barack Obama. But taking matters into his own hands without thinking of the consequences, without a wider plan, without considering what next, exposes both his naivety about how the world works and his potential to create instability on an international scale.

So, how should the UK respond now? Trump has made it clear that this was a one-off, which Michael Fallon has echoed, and we should welcome that. This wasn’t about intervention in Syria. The purpose was twofold: to send the strongest possible signal of condemnation of Assad’s actions, and to ensure he is much less likely to be able to act in that way again. The Syrian regime and their Russian allies may be acting outraged on their respective state television channels, but they have been sent a message they will surely not now ignore.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 51 Comments

Successfully defending a Syrian safe area

On Thursday on Question Time Tim Farron spoke in favour of protecting Syrian people from the murder visited on them by Assad’s military.  I applaud Tim’s decision to do so, especially in the light of earlier Lib Dem votes against military action. However, in doing so I have to insert the caveat that a solution based on air power alone is in fact no solution at all.

To illustrate my argument I must take you all back before the Iraq war and to the North and South Iraq No Fly Zones. In the north the NFZ was a success, with very few civilian casualties caused by the Iraqi military. In the south however, it could not have been more different, with villages being decimated and the genocide of an entire people very nearly enabled.

So what was the difference between the Northern and Southern No Fly Zones? Quite simply, it was the Kurdish ground troops protecting their people from murder by Saddam’s security forces. There was no equivalent in the south and so the armed forces were able to act with impunity (albeit without the comfort of air cover), murdering their people and even re-routing the Euphrates in order to starve the Marsh Arabs.

Posted in News | 20 Comments

Martin Horwood writes…Trump’s step into very dangerous waters

American bombing in Syria may make Donald Trump a hero on the streets of Idlib. Those fighting for simple democratic rights in Syria felt bitterly let down by the west in 2013 when we failed to take action the first time there was good evidence that the monstrous Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people.

We still live with the consequences of that inaction. We were warned our intervention against Assad might make the situation worse. The situation got worse anyway as Assad continued to kill his own people in their thousands with impunity. Millions fled their homes. The sudden rise of Isis/Daesh added a twisted new complication and cover for much larger-scale foreign intervention but by Russia instead of the west. But devastating Russian firepower was aimed much more frequently at the democratic rebels who were pounded into the ground at Aleppo. Increasingly it looked as though Assad’s relentless brutality had paid off and he could even get away with more chemical attacks in clear breach of international law.

So does this make Trump right to strike?

Posted in News | Also tagged | 22 Comments

Lib Dems respond to US air strikes on Syria

It was quite disconcerting to wake up this morning to see that Donald Trump had launched air strikes. There is no question that Syria needs to be dealt with. You just can’t have any government getting away with gassing its own people. I just feel uneasy about Donald Trump being in charge of this. Does he even have a proper strategy? I also feel uneasy about our Government just slipping into line behind him.

On Question Time last night, Tim Farron was talking about the importance of establishing no fly zones and of humanitarian aid, but made clear that doing nothing was not an option in the face of an attack as horrific as the one we saw earlier this week.

He has since described Trump’s action as “proportionate” but went on to say that our Government’s response was not sufficient:

The attack by American forces was a proportionate response to the barbarous attack by the Syrian government on its own people.

The British government rather than just putting out a bland statement welcoming this should now follow it up and call an emergency meeting of the Nato alliance to see what else can be done, be that more surgical strikes or no fly zones.

Evil happens when good people do nothing, we cannot sit by while a dictator gasses his own people. We cannot stand by, we must act.

I don’t always agree with what they say, but in situations like this, I always look for the views of three people: Paddy, Ming and Julie Smith

On Twitter, Paddy said:

I also had a conversation with Julie on Twitter:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 71 Comments

Observations of an expat: Disastrous Middle East victory

 

It looks as if the fighting in Iraq and Syria will draw to a close in 2017. We won and lost.

Isis,  Isil, Daesh, Al-Nusra, A lQaeeda, whatever name the Jihadists call themselves  have been pushed out of the remains of Aleppo and are hanging on by their blood-soaked fingertips in Mosul and Raqqa.

Also destroyed and seeking peace terms are Western-backed rebels in the Free Syrian Army and its dozens of feuding constituent parts.

The Obama Administration and its 13 allies backing air strikes could claim victory.  They may even try to do so.  And in terms of denying the Jihadists a territorial base, there are justifiable grounds for a victory claim.

However, Islamic extremism is far from defeated. Jihadists have repeatedly displayed their prowess in filling political vacuums wherever they occur, and Western intelligence agencies are issuing dire warnings of attacks on Western soil orchestrated by bitter battle-hardened extremists in full flight from the Middle East.

No, the real winners are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iran and Hezbollah.  And the real result is a massive defeat for the democratic hopes of the 2011 Arab Spring and a  victory for tyranny

Posted in Op-eds | 22 Comments

Aleppo must be a wake up call

Amid the humanitarian catastrophe that has been the siege and fall of Aleppo, both supporters and opponents of earlier calls for military action by the West against Assad have been claiming vindication by events. Perhaps some are relieved that the TV pictures of bloodied children in rubble can be attributed to Russian bombs rather than Western ones.

And perhaps we are guilty – as the EU is supposedly guilty of welcoming closer ties with Ukraine – of seeing a potential for good in the Arab Spring. Torment nobody with the promise of freedom and democracy unless you can deliver it, at gunpoint if necessary? Don’t start a civil war you can’t win, however bad your government?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 29 Comments

Assad, Appeasement, Aleppo and the Collapse of International Law

The latest ceasefire in Syria failed – and was always going to fail – due to a complete lack of will to enforce its provisions. This failure of the international community to respond to the worst humanitarian crisis of a generation is eroding the system of international laws and norms that underpin democratic societies.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 69 Comments

In which I consume news like most people…

As I wrote earlier, I properly chilled out on my holidays. Very little work, next to no reading and lots of walks,silly games and fun. I could get used to that lifestyle…

This all meant that I consumed news like a normal person rather than an obsessive who has half an eye on Twitter and the rolling news channels at all times lest something might happen in the world and she might miss it. If the news happened to be on, I’d watch it if there was no gripping Olympic action going on at the same time, but I wasn’t too fussed about it.

I didn’t totally cut myself off. My car would probably fall to pieces if it wasn’t tuned into Radio 4, after all.

So, from my rather more normal news consumption over the past week, what sparked my interest? Four stories leapt out at me.

Of course the heartbreaking photo of Omran Daqneesh would break all but the hardest of hearts. The traumatised and blood covered little boy symbolised the effects of war on children. As these things go, though, Omran was relatively lucky. Most of his family are still alive, although his brother died of injuries sustained in the same airstrike. Children suffer horrendously every single day in Syria and other war zones across the world. The previous week’s horribly distressing footage of the chlorine gas attack showed tiny babies struggling for breath. This is a horrible, relentless reality for millions of people. We must never forget that. The pictures should provoke an empathy in us that leads us to push the Government to do more to help those still in Syria and those who have escaped. They should make us all realise that those who have fled had good reason to do so and we should challenge those who suggest otherwise.

Prejudice and punishment

I’m not a fan of anyone telling women what to wear. There’s nothing like a public figure telling women that they shouldn’t wear something to make me want to wear one in sympathy. When the mayor of Cannes banned the “burquini” it made me furious that the likely effect of this would be that those women who wear such a garment, who were guilty of no crime, would effectively not be able to access their own seaside for no good reason. And if they couldn’t go, then it would be likely that their children would be restricted, too.

Garments aren’t divisive. Banning them on a whim most certainly is.

There are few cultures in the world in which women are treated with the equality they deserve. France might want to have a wee think about how its own globally renowned fashion industry has forced unrealistic and often damaging expectations on to women, for example.

Governments should be setting an example of inclusiveness, not picking on specific group of people in a manner that effectively incites prejudice against them.

Should people start seriously arguing for similar bans in this country, I’ll be first in the queue to wear one in solidarity.

Fat lot of good that was

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 24 Comments

March with Medics Under Fire – ‘Newbie’ Saleyha Ahsan leads the way

Many Lib Dems will remember Junior Doctor Saleyha Ahsan’s rousing conference rally speech (37:45) in York, in which she joined the party ‘live on air’ and blasted Hunt for his attacks on our NHS. Of course, you may also recognise her from her work on the BBC’s ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ or know her from the 2013 BBC documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ in which, while working in Atareb Hospital in northern Syria she was required to help treat the dozens of casualties brought in from one of the Assad …

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

As war accelerates again in Syria it’s time for us to act

“Time is running out to save Syria’s ceasefire” warned Dr Haytham Alhamwi of the Manchester-based Syrian Rethink Rebuild Society three weeks ago “otherwise Assad will get the message that he can persist with ever more egregious violations”. Now the always limited ‘cessation of hostilities’ is, in the words of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura “barely alive“.

On Thursday one of free Aleppo’s last remaining paediatricians was killed along with colleagues and patients in the “broader pattern of systematic targeting of hospitals by the government of Bashar al-Assad”. The Syrian government is doing what it always does when dragged to the negotiating table: distract, prevaricate and take the opportunity to step up repression of non-violent activists and organise a security build-up for the outright military victory Assad promised no sooner had the ceasefire been agreed.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

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

Syrian air strikes decision – stirrings of unhappiness in the party

The Independent on Sunday has pulled together a good number of quotes from party members who are not happy about the decision this week to support air strikes in Syria.

The report quotes Federal Policy Committee member Gareth Epps, who has written a critical piece on the Liberator blog entitled: “Is there any longer a point to the Liberal Democrats?”. The blog post includes this:

It seems Liberal Democrat MPs have learned nothing of the mistakes of action in Iraq and more recently Libya; nothing of their mistakes from the Coalition Parliament; and have understood nothing of the gaping chasm in opinion between them and the party members that have worked hard to get them elected. The reaction of those members – many of whom didn’t receive a single email from the party on how it would approach the issue – is of utter dismay.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 51 Comments

Peers’ input on the Syrian air strike question

We’ve heard a lot about the Commons debate on the expansion of UK air strikes into Syria. There were also some very good speeches on the subject in the House of Lords, during a discussion held at the same time as the Commons’ one, plus good peers’ input elsewhere.

You can browse the Peers’ debate here both in video and text form.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

Where next for Syria?

On the night of the Syria debate I missed out on hearing Hilary Benn’s speech and instead paid a visit to my local mosque. Evening prayers had just finished and I sat in a room at the back with Dr Haytham Alhamwi, Director of Rethink Rebuild Society – “the voice of the Syrian Community of Manchester”.

Tempting as it was to discuss the rights and wrongs of the UK bombing campaign, we didn’t. It was clear that the vote would be won in Parliament. We were more interested in what happens next.

Whether you think that the UK joining the international bombing campaign in Syria is a good thing or a terrible mistake, we all want to get the best outcome. But what would that outcome look like?

We all know the situation in Syria is confusing, and I certainly didn’t leave the mosque with a perfect understanding – nothing like it. But over a coffee and a chocolate biscuit, I gained a much better grasp of what Dr Alhamwi’s organisation – and others like it who want to see a peaceful, democratic Syria – believe needs to happen.

Don’t give up on democracy

We saw western attempts to bring about democratic states in Afganistan and Iraq falter. We saw the Arab Spring burn brightly then sputter out. But, Dr Alhamwi argues, Syria can be transformed into a democracy. It won’t happen on its own, but it can be done.

Posted in Op-eds | 45 Comments

Baroness Judith Jolly writes…Towards a pluralist, peaceful Syria

Interviews with Syrians of all faiths and sects have shown that, as with all of us, they wish to live in a pluralist society, as they used to. The want to return to the days when Christians and Druze were friends and all lived on the same street. The action we take must contribute to this aspiration

Lib Dem MPs voted to support the government based on five criteria, or principles. Any action taken must be legal, there must be a diplomatic framework, we must ensure pressure is placed on the Gulf States and Turkey to re-engage and support efforts to destabilise Daesh, there must be a post Daesh plan, and we must do more within our own borders to combat British extremist groups and ensure safety for refugees.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd Jul - 2:36pm
    OK what about housing? I'm ashamed of many of my own generation (55+) who have not just been content with doing well out of the...
  • User AvatarMichael Meadowcroft 23rd Jul - 2:33pm
    Here we are yet again with Liberal Democrats desperately searching for the silver bullet - some new formula that will produce political and electoral success...
  • User AvatarDav 23rd Jul - 2:32pm
    Paradoxical older people in warehouse work are getting paid more than under 25’s while the younger workers are probably more efficient given the physical nature...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd Jul - 2:16pm
    @Tom, " A Fairer Share for All" Yes I agree. But isn't this more socialism than liberalism? In the USA, socialism and liberalism are closely...
  • User AvatarJen 23rd Jul - 2:03pm
    An excellent article. I am endlessly puzzled that the "R" in TERF stands for 'Radical' when their values are those of the Reactionary hard right.
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 23rd Jul - 1:42pm
    david grundy: The Liberal-SDP Alliance had a go at being a centre party, but was affected by First Past The Post voting in the 1983...