Today, Parliament will likely vote to start British air strikes in Syria. This is a mistake. Britain should not get entangled in yet another Middle East war without a long term plan.
No-one knows how to actually defeat ISIS or end the Syrian Civil War. Do we have a timetable for a long term plan or for starting peace negotiations? No. Do we have an exit strategy? No. This war will take years, perhaps even decades to resolve.
Bombing alone will not defeat ISIS, we need strong ground forces. Is there anything that British bombs will achieve that American, Russian or French bombs can't achieve? No.
The Syrian Civil War is five-sided conflict between the Assad Government, the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian Kurds, ISIS and smaller Islamist groups. Currently America, Russia, France, Australia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Qatar and Bahrain are all involved in Syria. In short, Syria’s complex.
Are ISIS just in Syria and Iraq? No. ISIS are also in Libya and Nigeria, with affiliates in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Are we going to bomb all these countries? Probably not.
I’m not a pacifist, I want to stop ISIS. But bombing will not achieve this, primarily because western air strikes have been going on for months in Syria with very little results. Instead of bombing we should use our resources to arm and train the Kurds.
The Syrian Kurdish ideology “Democratic Confederalism” mixes libertarian local democracy with secularism and feminism. The Kurds are well-organised and they have been effective in combating ISIS in Northern Syria. Unfortunately, many groups like the Assad Government and several Islamist groups are almost as bad as ISIS. Also it’s unclear how many of the Free Syrian Army are still “moderates”.
I encourage all MPs to vote against British air strikes in Syria (especially Liberal Democrat MPs). Instead, we should arm, train and equip the Syrian Kurds. We also must start to negotiate a long term peace plan for Syria, post-ISIS. Britain must not bomb Syria, it would be a mistake on a par with Suez or Iraq in 2003. Wars are very easy to get into, they are much more difficult to get out of.