Statement by Exeter Green Party on the vote for military action against ‘Daesh targets’ in Syria

Following the vote last Wednesday, we now know that the hundreds of thousands in the South West who oppose military strikes in Syria have not a single MP from the region in Parliament representing their views. With Ben Bradshaw siding with the Tories; the Labour Party bitterly split on the issue and Lib Dems supportive of military action, the Green Party are by contrast united against yet another military intervention in the Middle East.

Green MP, Caroline Lucas, voted against airstrikes because she has seen no evidence to suggest that UK bombing ISIS targets in Syria is likely to increase our security here in Britain or help bring about a lasting peace in the region.

We believe this decision could make us less safe and generate a new recruitment drive by Islamist terrorists. Indeed, it plays to the Daesh narrative of being guardians of Islam resisting the ‘crusader West’. According to US intelligence sources, in September 2014, 15,000 recruits were reported to have joined from 80 countries; a year later the figure had risen to 30,000 from 100 countries. So sustained bombings in Iraq have not pushed Daesh into retreat, they seem to have increased their appeal.

This was never a choice between military intervention and inaction. The Green Party believes a far more effective strategy would be to redouble efforts at a diplomatic solution to the tragic Syrian civil war. We agree with the assessment of the Foreign Affairs Committee, just a month ago, which concluded that, “the focus on the extension of airstrikes against ISIL in Syria is a distraction from the much bigger and more important task of finding a resolution to the conflict in Syria.” 

We also believe that we must immediately suspend all British arms sales to the Middle East. We need to commit to a foreign policy that is consistent and ethical, particularly when it comes to our relations with countries that undermine human rights and fund terrorism, such as Saudi Arabia.

Finally, particularly in light of the decision to bomb Syria, we believe the UK has a moral obligation to welcome refugees displaced by military action or those who choose to leave the region due to fear of oppression or fear for their own or their family’s lives.


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