SYRIA: Where does your MP stand?
MPs from South West Wales played their part in defeating a UK Government motion backing military action in Syria.
Elected members voted twice on Thursday night: first rejecting a Labour amendment calling for "compelling" evidence about a suspected chemical weapon attack by the Syrian administration before any action was taken; then narrowly defeating the motion on the principle that military action could be required to protect Syrian civilians.
Yesterday David Cameron, while accepting the will of Parliament, said "it was important we have a robust response to the use of chemical weapons and there are a series of things we will continue to do".
The US administration believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime was responsible for a chemical attack on August 21 which reportedly killed 355 people in a suburb of the capital, Damascus. A year ago President Barack Obama said any use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would cross a red line and change his calculations.
Footage of teenagers with napalm-like burns after an air strike at a Syrian school emerged on Thursday.
Professor Gordon Cumming, of Cardiff University, told the Post: "The upside to military intervention is that it would send a clear signal to the Assad Government and other rogue regimes that the use of chemical weapons attacks will not be tolerated.
"The downside is that the intervention could make matters worse by causing collateral damage, attracting extremist support to the Syrian cause, provoking some kind of retaliation by Assad or his allies. There is no clear end game and there is no doubt that the shadow of both Iraq and Libya hangs over any intervention."
How did your MP vote?
Swansea West MP Geraint Davies:
“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.”
Swansea East MP Sian James:
“WHAT we have to remember here in the West that this is not an Arab Spring uprising. 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”, she said.
“Britain should be working with Syria’s neighbours to find peaceful diplomatic solutions that can influence change.”
Aberavon MP Dr Hywel Francis:
“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 an end to 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.”
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards:
“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 through the international courts.”
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart:
“I WAS prepared to support action on the proviso there would be no further action until a second vote authorised that. It was on a personal assurance David Cameron gave me 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 have voted ‘no’.”
Llanelli MP Nia Griffith:
“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.”
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? “Before we know it, we will be dragged into full-scale military action.”
THE Post contacted Gower MP Martin Caton’s office but he was not available for comment at the time of going to press.