Friday 4 December 2015

Why I'm in favour of Syrian airstrikes

If you want to know my feelings on last night's Commons vote on whether Britain should begin airstrikes in Syria you only need to listen to Hilary Benn's speech below.

The tone, language and content perfectly summed up my own feelings. I thought it was brilliant!

Although I supported the vote for airstrikes I certainly don't believe that this military intervention alone will defeat ISIS, it won't!

What airstrikes should and hopefully will do, is form part of an overall strategy to defeating ISIS and bringing about some form of resolution in Syria and Iraq. As I type this I realise how much easier that may sound but ultimately that has to be the goal.

Many of the arguments put forward by those opposing airstrikes, I simply don't agree with. Firstly I don't believe that Britain will be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks by intervening in Syria. Britain is already a target and our intervention won't make any difference.

Today I've read and listened to the arguments about how innocent civilians will be killed as the result of our airstrikes. The question I would ask to people is this. Do ISIS not have some moral responsibility for any civilian casualties and deaths that may occur?

This got me thinking more about our attitudes on the Middle East and the idea that our own actions have or may have contributed to the problems we see not just with ISIS but across the region as a whole.

Too often we hear about how Western intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, or Syria has somehow contributed to the rise of Islamic extremism. I accept that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake and the consequences are still being felt today but we shouldn't ignore or forget the fact that many of the problems in Syria and across the Middle East are also as a result of Middle Eastern leaders and governments.

Why is there a civil war going on in Syria? Are we directly responsible for this war? No we're not. Syria under Bashar al-Assad and his father before him has been an oppressive, brutal and corrupt dictatorship for decades. The civil war started as part of a regional uprising in 2011 called 'Arab Spring'.

There are and continue to be many questionable regimes across the Middle East. In 2011 we witnessed a number of spontaneous uprising across the Arab World. This included Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya which saw the overthrowing of Col Gaddafi. These revolts were protests by the public and opposition groups against their leaders as a consequence of years of oppression, violence and corruption.

Admittedly these uprising have subsequently caused instability and civil wars and the West may have indirectly supported dubious opposition groups to bring about regime change but ultimately this was a case of Arab people revolting against their own leaders.

The reason I wanted to highlight this point is that by continuing to focus on how Britain and the West's actions in the Middle East have caused many of today's problems we allow groups like ISIS and other brutal Arab leaders to have less accountability for their own actions and behaviour.

As far as I'm concerned ISIS and their ideology is morally repugnant, regardless of Britain's actions in Iraq or Afghanistan it can never be an excuse for the barbarity shown by ISIS.

We hear about how our actions will result in the radicalisation of more Muslims, but if that's the case surely it reveals just how ignorant some of these people truly are.

They're happy to sit back and watch ISIS ethnically cleanse minority Christian groups such as the Yazidis, to watch hundreds of innocent people murdered in Paris but as soon as the West begin a bombing campaign to protect our own citizens they feel radicalised to take action over our intervention.

In the last 10 years and certainly over a period of decades, Western intervention in the Middle East has quite rightly caused anger and resentment throughout the Middle East, but Middle Eastern leaders, religious groups, factions and terrorists are also responsible for their own actions and behaviour and we shouldn't forget that.

We have decided to join an airstrike campaign as a result of ISIS and their poisonous ideology of hate and intolerance, there is no other reason for it and we should not feel guilty about defending our own people and our values and way of life and this is why I'm in favour of airstrikes.

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