Members of Parliament were recalled to the Commons this week to vote on whether UK armed forces should join United States-led air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.
Carmarthenshire Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards voted against intervention.
When Tony Blair led the UK to war in Iraq back in 2003, Plaid Cymru warned that regime change would create a power vacuum. Former Carmarthenshire Member of Parliament, Adam Price, led attempts to impeach Mr Blair, and was famously ejected from the House of Commons for branding the then Prime Minister a liar.
Carmarthenshire played a significant role in the anti-war movement back in 2003 when hundreds of country residents travelled by coach convey to join the one million people marching against the Iraq invasion.
The UK Government’s intention is to support the Iraqi government with air strikes. The motion passed in Parliament does not support intervention in Syria.
Jonathan Edwards said he had no confidence in UK and US foreign policy, and that he believed regional government efforts - supported by the United Nations and international community - would achieve long lasting stability in the region, as opposed to western intervention with inevitable civilian deaths which would progress the cause of Islamic State.
Speaking after the vote in the House of Commons, Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“Since the people of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr put their faith in me to represent them in Parliament, I have never underestimated the responsibility it brings – not least when it comes to deciding whether or not our armed forces are involved in military action.
“The horrific scenes we have seen on our televisions in recent weeks leaves me in no doubt that Islamic State is a force of pure evil. The barbarity of beheadings, atrocities and cruel oppression, inflicted not just on western civilians, but also on the hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of Iraq and Syria who have been unfortunate enough to fall under the rule of I.S. is testimony enough.
“Military intervention through airstrikes therefore appears on the face of it to be an obvious choice of action. But British invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and subsequent entanglements should have taught us that the obvious choice is not always the one to take.
“We know that I.S. does not recognise borders. Military action in Iraq which the UK Government proposes ignores the fact that the Islamic State controls large swathes of territory in Syria, and splinter groups are active across the Middle East and North Africa with a French tourist recently executed in Algeria.
“I not convinced the UK government has a robust strategy for intervention or exit. I could not, in all consciousness, vote to send our armed forces into a situation in which they are at the mercy of a foreign policy decision in which I have no confidence.
“The inevitable death of innocent people from UK air strikes will only serve to aid Islamic State in its long term propaganda efforts to recruit more to its cause. There needs to be a clear endorsement of approved action from the United Nations for defeating terrorism in the region.”
Setting out his position on what action could be taken instead of military air strikes, Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“The Iraqi government – supported by western governments - has alienated its Sunni population who have, in turn, welcomed the ‘victories’ of Islamic State. Iraq is in desperate need of a non-sectarian government that encompasses all faiths and beliefs in its society. The Western powers following the 2003 Iraqi invasion have been guilty of supporting a sectarian Shia led government which has alienated other religious and ethnic groups.
“Bombs will kill terrorists, but they will not stop terrorism. Air strikes will only serve to further polarise the people and lead to a situation whereby Iraqi and Syrian communities are left to face the successor of Islamic State. We need to work with the Sunni tribes in particular to uprise against the Islamic State. Civilian casualties amongst the Sunni community as a result of air strikes will only strengthen the political grip of the IS over the territories it holds in Iraq and Syria.
"The UK's response to this crisis must focus on humanitarian and diplomatic efforts. A lasting solution can only be achieved by a region-led approach backed by United Nations-led international support. We should concentrate on delivering aid, bringing moderate regional powers together, and offering to take refugees as the number fleeing their homes will inevitably rise at a rapid rate.
“If the United Nations was indeed to endorse a strategy for intervention and exit I would then, of course, consider my opposition very carefully. As things stand an open ended commitment to UK air strikes lasting years is not something I can support.”
You fail to mention that the democratically elected and broad base gvernment of Iraq have requested assistance to repel and defeat IS.
Pacifiscim is a luxury that the likes of PC can indulge in because they will never have power. It falls to proper governments to make difficult decisions and in this case I think Cameron has got it about right.
The a propose action is proportionate and legal - Blair lied but that is no reason for doing what is right now.
Sometimes we have to exercise force and accept that it is right and proper.
Come off it Anon 18:58. Jonathan's approach is pragmatic - not pacifistic. The UK is just trying to parade as a world power (although having an aircraft carrier with no planes is a bit fur coat and no knickers!) This latest escapade will cost UK taxpayers £3 billion, at a time of savage cutbacks in the NHS, social care etc. It's jingoism gone mad. Very rich and heavily-armed Arab countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be left to sort out the IS. Western interference will just lead to more hatred and resentment, which breeds further extremism. God! Will we ever learn? But then, of course, if you don't have wars the arms companies won't make profits will they?
Have to agree with anonymous 18.58.
I think the UK is doing anything but parade as a world power. It seems to me that wha the Uk is doing is legal and proportionate.
We are aa tangly operating on a par with the Netherlands which is reasonable.
As regards the comment about the aircraft carrier, there is a lag in ensuring the ships have planes but they will do and the point you make is a bit silly.
The fact is IS is a murderous regime and they need to be defeated and destroyed. They are operating medieval rules and this country must ensure that we join the coalition to stop them.
I'm struck by the assertion that "We need to work with the Sunni tribes in particular to uprise against the Islamic State." How, exactly? Sending weapons? Offering training? Providing boots on the ground?
If one is suggesting alternatives to concrete proposals, waffle isn't enough. Invoking the UN as if it were a supranational body rather than something less than the sum of its constituent parts is a sign of waffle. (I'm not suggesting that the UN is worthless - just that it is inherently weak as long as Security Council members pursue their national interests.)
Anyone who watched the debate on Friday would have been struck by what the BBC called the shallow nature of the support given to this intervention. Many MPs who voted in favour did so reluctantly, and for the good reason that the track record does not inspire confidence.
Working with the Sunni tribes means arming them and demonstrating that the world - through the UN - acknowledges that Iraq is their country too.
Two aircraft carrier years behind schedule, twice over budget at £6.3 billion, no aircraft for another five years - and Anon 1624 calls ME silly?
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