Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:57 pm on 26th September 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield 12:57 pm, 26th September 2014

The hon. Gentleman pre-empts a point that I will come on to later.

My second point that Britain’s involvement must be in training, arming and giving strategic support and planning. Many have already suggested that links with the Free Syrian Army, the Kurds and the Iraqi army need to be enhanced, but this is an area in which the British military excel. We need to ensure that we do everything that we can to help train, arm and provide strategic support and planning. Those are issues at which Britain is undoubtedly one of the best in the world.

My third point is that the humanitarian protection of civilians is absolutely essential. I remember during the Libyan campaign, when I had the honour of sitting on the National Security Council, the personal attention that the then Defence Secretary took to ensure that targeting was of such quality and standard that civilian casualties were absolutely minimised. There would be nothing worse than the damage that will be caused by an air campaign if huge numbers of innocent civilians are attacked, as they have been in other campaigns but as they were not in Libya. Libya was successful in that respect at least. We must ensure precise targeting and the protection of civilians. We must give absolute priority to that and must ensure that protecting those who are at grave risk in this conflict is right at the top of the list.

My fourth point, which brings me directly to the point of Mr Allen, is that anyone who thinks that this crisis will be solved by smart weapons from 12,000 feet is completely and totally wrong, which is pretty widely accepted, at least in the House. It is absolutely critical that there is a plan for when the crisis is over and that the plan is enunciated now, because we need to ensure that we split off the hardliners, those who are intent on military action and advancing their cause through weaponry and ordnance, from those who are biddable and who may be brought back into more sensible dialogue and international comity.