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Syria and North Korea

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 18th April 2017.

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Photo of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Trade and Investment) 4:13 pm, 18th April 2017

I thank the Foreign Secretary for advance sight of his statement and I associate Scottish National party Members with his opening remarks, in which he paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Jerusalem and Stockholm. Our thoughts are with their families.

The international community must respond to what can only be described as the monstrous actions of the Assad regime. There should be an international investigation sponsored by the Security Council. If that is blocked, such an investigation should be ordered by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The mechanisms exist to enable that to happen, and the UK Government must lead the way. The findings should be taken to the International Criminal Court and those responsible should be arraigned and subjected to the force of international law.

The US air strikes on Shayrat airfield are a demonstration of the unpredictability of the Trump Administration, which many fear will only cause further escalation of the conflict. In their rush to congratulate that Administration on their recent strike, did the UK Government consider its repercussions? Until now, coalition aircraft have operated with relative freedom against Daesh in eastern Syria. Now, Russia has suspended the US-Russia air operations accord, and the Assad regime will likely activate its extensive air defences. The skies above Syria will therefore be much more dangerous for UK pilots, while Syrian civilians on the ground will suffer even more.

We in the SNP have questioned the UK Government’s policy on airstrikes from the very beginning, but now we must have answers. What changes will have to be made to adapt to the changing situation, and how will that affect the coalition aerial campaign against Daesh? UK jets and bombs will not bring peace in Syria. We call on the UK Government to reconsider their tactics and urgently present a revised military strategy in Parliament. Although dialogue aimed at ending the conflict is welcome, above all we want hostilities to cease and civilians to receive the basic food, shelter and medical care that they so badly need.

Finally, on North Korea, we urge all parties to lower tensions and use diplomatic means to work through disagreements. This is yet more evidence of the need to implement multilateral disarmament and put an end to the existence of weapons of mass destruction in general, and nuclear weapons in particular.