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Iraq: Coalition Against ISIL

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 1:41 pm on 26th September 2014.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Conservative, Rutland and Melton 1:41 pm, 26th September 2014

Let me answer the hon. Gentleman this way, because it really is my main point. We are looking at not one country invading another or a national army marching across the border, but a conflict without borders and the advance of non-state actors who have no national identity, no seat in the UN and no coherent political structure. The threat is not from a rogue state or a vicious dictator, but from a poisonous, viral movement that is cutting a swathe of grisly barbarity across the region from Syria to Iraq. That enemy can morph into al-Qaeda one day, disappear into the crowd and come back again the next. We can resolve to beat it, but it is not the same as fighting a country.

As my right hon. Friend Mr Mitchell sensibly asked, what can we target? What can we hit? How can we be sure that we are bombing in the right way? Can we perhaps disable infrastructure rather than destroy it, and how will we continue to be effective from the air should ISIL forces move into a dense urban settlement? For all those reasons, we must expect to give our Prime Minister flexibility and discretion, without us descending into political recriminations. He must be allowed to adapt and amend our actions to suit the unfolding acts on the ground and in my opinion—this is a view that has been expressed by my right hon. Friends the Members for Croydon South (Sir Richard Ottaway), for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), and for North Somerset (Dr Fox)—that should not exclude spreading air attacks into the deserts of Syria.

In conclusion, taking on ISIL is not just about bombs. It requires comprehensive confrontation—diplomatic, social, religious, cultural, educational and financial and through the media and the use of intelligence—and ISIL must be beaten on all fronts. This may go on for years; it might not. Today, we should be prepared to start our action, but, equally, should it ever become too impractical or inappropriate to fight from the air, then we should also, without shame, stain or blame, be prepared to stop it.