Local MP Patricia Gibson has branded as “foolhardy” the UK Parliament’s decision to bomb Syria.
Mrs Gibson and her SNP colleagues unanimously voted against UK involvement in the ongoing Syrian civil war, which sees disparate groups, including the barbaric Da’esh (ISIS), fighting for control of the country.
The Tory Government Motion, debated for ten-hours in the House of Commons last Wednesday (December 2), called for RAF bombers to join a two-year-long, American-led assault on areas of Syria controlled by Da’esh. The Motion was supported by 66 Labour MPs, helping to secure a pro-war majority of 397 to 223.
Despite 97% of Scottish MPs voting against the bombing of Syria, aircraft based in Scotland were involved in an attack within one-hour of the decision in the UK Parliament. Only the one Tory MP and one Liberal Democrat in Scotland backed the bombing.
Speaking after the debate, Patricia Gibson said, “To say that nothing should be done is not an option. However, acting when the consequences of action are not fully understood is foolhardy.
“Military analysts made it clear that air strikes will not defeat ISIS. The Prime Minister claims there are 70,000 rebels ready to help. However, despite repeated questioning, he was unable to spell-out who these fighters are, how many are ‘moderate’ and how many belong to rival jihadist elements as bad as those we want to defeat.”
Mrs Gibson is concerned British bombing will lead to even more civilian casualties, saying, “Despite claims that technology used by the RAF would minimise civilian casualties, we know from past experience that using high explosives in urban areas leads inevitably to innocent lives being lost.”
Within days, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed Mrs Gibson’s fears were a possibility, telling an English newspaper, “You can’t completely eliminate mistakes in wartime, but we do our best to ensure that any civilian damage is minimised.”
Rather than dropping bombs from 30,000-feet, Patricia Gibson argues, “The UK should press for Turkey to seal its borders to ISIS volunteers crossing into Syria and Iraq, and cut-off export of the oil and antiquities ISIS relies on to pay its fighters.”
The MP for North Ayrshire & Arran pointed-out that Jihadis who had trained and fought in Syria subsequently returned to Europe, playing major roles in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Mrs Gibson says more work needs to be done “to counter radicalisation of Muslims in communities across Europe”.
Looking forward, the SNP MP stated, “The UK should press forward with diplomatic efforts to end the Syrian civil war and work with the UN and others to develop a peace plan for the next round of talks between Syria’s Assad regime and opposition groups, which are due to take place this month.
“Opting to drop more bombs on an already beleaguered nation without an exit strategy or a credible peace-building plan can only delay a lasting solution.”