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Turkish Incursion into Northern Syria

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 15th October 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I am not the Leader of the Opposition’s biggest fan, but I think that cheap pot shots at a time like this are utterly unnecessary and demean the office of Foreign Secretary.

This is a brutal and unnecessary conflict. There is a needless humanitarian catastrophe and a refugee crisis, which the Foreign Secretary rightly pointed out, but which has been made much worse. As the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee rightly says, this will have a deep impact on our future ability to build alliances, and alliances that we need—not least given the boots on the ground that the SDF provided.

The Defence Secretary has said that

“Turkey needs to do what it sometimes has to do to defend itself”.

Maybe the Foreign Secretary can tell us exactly what that means.

The Secretary of State mentioned keeping sales of arms under careful review. We have seen how well that has gone in Yemen over the past three years. The UK has leverage here. Why have Germany, France, the Netherlands, Finland and the Czech Republic stopped arms sales, and not the UK?

Finally, will the UK take its responsibilities seriously? We should all pay credit to the bravery of the humanitarian organisations and journalists such as Quentin Sommerville, who discovered in Syria British orphans of parents who had joined IS; surely children do not carry the sins of their parents.