Syria: UK Military Action — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:09 pm on 2nd December 2015.

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Photo of Lord Hussain Lord Hussain Liberal Democrat 7:09 pm, 2nd December 2015

Organisations such as Daesh—known by some as ISIS—in the Middle East, the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Boko Haram in Africa were born from the ashes of wars in Iraq, Libya and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and injustices in the Middle East.

My country of origin, Pakistan, has seen some of the worst atrocities committed by the Taliban targeting mosques, shrines and schools, killing more than 45,000 Pakistani men, women and children. Pakistan’s army is currently fully engaged in eradicating these extremists and terrorists from the country, with the unanimous approval of its Parliament, including the religious parties, and the full support of its public.

Daesh is known to be responsible for current mass killings in Tunisia, Lebanon, Turkey and France. It has forcefully acquired a large area of Iraq and Syria by defeating both armies. That shows that it has some of the most modern weapons and military force. I believe that terrorists who kill children in schools, worshippers in mosques and churches, innocent shoppers, passengers and other ordinary peaceful men, women and children, or blow themselves up in busy marketplaces, causing carnage, have no religion or faith. They need to be defeated.

The question in front of us today is whether Britain should join its allies in military action against Daesh in Syria. I am not a legal expert, so I will not argue about the legality of the air strikes against Daesh, as many legal experts in this House have already given their views on it. However, some serious questions need answering. I wish to ask the Minister a few questions.

First, the use of force should be undertaken as a last resort. Have we exhausted all the peaceful means to neutralise Daesh, particularly by depriving it of weapons and finance?

Secondly, from the information available it seems that the allied forces have very little, if any, intelligence on the ground in Daesh-controlled areas, so they rely heavily on images taken from the skies above these areas. How do they distinguish Daesh from groups of students, religious congregations, funeral gatherings or the Free Syrian Army?

Thirdly, would victims of any potential friendly-fire air strikes not radicalise more people? Russian forces are involved in bombing anti-Assad forces. What pressure is being applied on Russia to see an end to that? Will more bombing not create more destabilisation and lead to more people fleeing Syria? Are the UK Government willing to accept more refugees? Will our actions make the UK and the rest of the world any safer?