Dropping bombs on Syria not the answer, says Swansea MP
SWANSEA MP Sian James has explained why she was among several MPs who voted against both Government and opposition motions on possible military intervention in Syria.
Last night the Government was defeated by 285 to 272, a majority of 13 votes.
An earlier Labour amendment calling for “compelling” evidence before any action was rejected by MPs by 114 votes.
Labour member Mrs James said she felt the issues were not a straightforward as David Cameron and his ministers had argued in the House of Commons.
“What we have to remember here in the West that this is not an Arab Spring uprising,” she said.
“Syria is caught up in a sectarian war which is historically linked to complex regional interests.
“Dropping bombs in so-called surgical strikes is not going to resolve decades of internal turmoil.
“Britain should be working with Syria’s neighbours to find peaceful diplomatic solutions that can influence change.”
The impact of the ongoing conflict on ordinary Syrian citizens was graphically highlighted in a BBC report last night on the aftermath of an incendiary-type bomb strike on a Syrian school.
Swansea West MP Geraint Davies voted for the Labour amendment and then against the Government motion, as did Gower MP Martin Caton, Aberavon MP Dr Hywel Francis, Carmathen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards and Llanelli MP Nia Griffith.
Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart voted against the Labour amendment and for the Government motion.
Mr Cameron said this morning that it was a "regret" he had been unable to build a consensus on the response to the suspected chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on August 21, in which hundreds of people are reported to have died.
And despite MPs voting against military action, he said: "It's important we have a robust response to the use of chemical weapons and there are a series of things we will continue to do."
MP Mr Davies said: “The Labour line was that there needed to be compelling evidence (of a chemical weapon attack), a set time frame for action and no open-ended commitment.
“Clearly the Government didn’t accept that, and the amendment fell - and then their motion fell as well.
“There is enormous concern about the use of chemical weapons. My reading is that the Americans and French will go in to Syria with a specific (military) mission.”
His Labour colleague Ms Griffith said: "It is extremely important that we get the full facts (of the chemical weapon attack) and that we work through the UN.
“The situation in the Middle East is extremely complex, with a very volatile situation in and around Syria.
“We absolutely must use every form of diplomatic pressure that we can. It is significant that military chiefs like Lord Dannatt said you need to know what your strategy is before you go firing off. This has to be dealt with by dialogue.”
Dr Francis added: “I was proud to have been part of this decision by Parliament to halt military action by the Coalition Government against Syria.
“The will of Parliament reflected the overwhelming opposition in my constituency and throughout the country.
“Every effort must now be made to bring to end the civil war by supporting diplomacy and humanitarian initiatives led by the UN. And we need to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice through international criminal courts."
Mr Hart, meanwhile, said: “I was prepared to support action on the proviso there would be no further action until a second vote specifically authorised that.
“It was on a personal assurance David Cameron gave me that the motion would not facilitate implied consent or to take any kind of direct or indirect action without consent.
"The motion didn’t commit us to military action, all it did was commit us to making a statement of intent. If yesterday had been a vote about military action I would definitely have voted ‘no’.”
Mr Edwards said: “Plaid Cymru never supports military conflict. We were delighted the Government’s intentions to pave the way for military action were defeated.
“It was a significant victory. There have been far too many wars where the British have acted outside international law and there are political consequences.
“The use of chemical weapons is abhorrent but the right way to deal with those criminals is to put them through the international courts.”
Neath MP Peter Hain could not make Thursday’s vote, but told The Guardian this week: “This is a highly complex civil war in a region where the wrong action could light a powder keg, with not just consequences for refugees that we have already seen but retaliatory action against other countries.
“What will be the collateral damage on civilians? What will be the retaliatory consequences? What will be the escalatory results?
“Before we know it, we will be dragged into full-scale military action.”
The Post contacted Mr Caton but he was not available at the time of going to press.