01/12/2015 Newsnight


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On the brink of war - a Newsnight special


as parliament prepares to make up its mind on Syrian airstrikes.


This time tomorrow night, barring unforseen events, MPs will have


voted on whether to send British fighter planes to bomb IS in Syria.


For some parliamentarians the agonising will continue


Just this evening, the Foreign Affairs Select committee narrowly


approved a resolution stating that the PM had not adequately addressed


Meanwhile, the Stop the War coalition have been


There will be Conservatives who vote against,


and Labour MPs who vote for, but if David Cameron gets his way our


bombs could be aimed at IS targets almost immediately after the vote.


So on the eve of this momentous decision we are devoting Newsnight


to debating the arguments for and against - I'm joined by politicians,


Syrians, passionate advocates for military action, and others equally


passionate about the perils of joining the Americans the


First tonight, a reminder of how we got to this point.


It was bombing campaigns by President Assad's forces that led


to a dramatic recall of Parliament in August 2013.


The call to arms followed a suspected chemical weapons attack


on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on the 21st


of August, in which hundreds of people are reported to have died.


The US and the UK said that the Assad


In the event, the coalition government's motion


David Cameron said he would respect that defeat.


It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views


of the British people, does not want to see British military action.


I get that, and the government will act accordingly.


Early in March 2013 Islamic fighters had entered


And soon it became the capital of the so-called Islamic State.


By the following June, in Iraq, Isis forces had overrun both Fallujah


They quickly declared a caliphate across Iraq and Syria,


Two months later, the city of Sinjar was captured


Within a week President Obama authorised the first air strikes.


Ten days later, Isis uploaded a video entitled,


It shows the beheading of the American hostage James Foley.


It featured a masked militant with an English accent.


This militant became known as Jihadi John, and more gruesome


In September, the US announced the formation of a coalition to


And US warplanes began to bomb Raqqa.


By September, France had joined in air strikes over Syria


Within days, Russia entered the war, carrying out its first air strikes


in Syria hours after parliamentary approval in Russia.


On November 13, Paris suffered a devastating series


of attacks, leaving 130 dead and many more injured.


Isis also claimed attacks in Tunisia, Beirut,


and the downing of the Russian tourist plane over Sinai.


These recent attacks have galvanised governments to prepare joint air


strikes to degrade and eradicate Isis.


Supporting air strikes in Syria are the Labour MP Mary


Creagh, The Times Columnist David Aaronovitch and Wa'el Ageji


Against, are the conservative MP John Barron,


the commentator Matthews Parris, and the Syrian academic Reem Turkmani.


We will address three questions tonight


In front of them an audience of people,


some of whom have a locus in the debate, and others who are undecided


on the arguments for or against. Diane, what would you want to hear


to make up your mind? I want to know that it has been thought through.


And what are you concerned about? What added value the British would


give in this involvement, given that other countries are already involved


in this conflict. And Mary, what are you so worried about? I am worried


about not repeating the same mistakes of Iraq.


The first question we want to address is the military


Can we really make any meaningful difference? And even if we can make


a difference from the air, who is going to fight the ground war that


everybody agrees is necessary. First David Aaronovitvch,


a minute please in support What MPs are being asked to do


tomorrow is not to start a war - there's been one of those in Syria


for four years in which 300,000 Syrians have died and 5 million have


sought refuge abroad - or to "bomb Syria",


but to extend the scope of existing British airstrikes against Isis from


Iraq over the non-existent border. Our allies, not least the French,


have requested this of us. Germany responded to France's


request for help earlier today. Militarily it will add to the


existing pressure on the beheaders, enslavers, rapists and amputators


of Daesh and assist forces such as the Kurds and non-jihadi Syrian


resistance fighters who - not Assad - have borne the brunt


of the anti-Isis fight. It will do something to diminish the capacity


of Daesh to plan attacks on European It will not end


the Syrian civil war - which we and others have stood back from


for so long - and it will not in and Eventually that will be accomplished


by ground forces, probably consisting


of local allies assisted by special It does not detract from


the need for a peace process in the But right now, concretely,


British forces can help damage Isis and give succour


and encouragement to our friends. Now John Barron, the case against,


also in a minute. At a time when too many aircraft are


chasing too few targets, many in Parliament are concerned that in the


absence of a long-term strategy, both military and non-military, we


risk repeating past errors such as in Iraq, Helmand and Libya, and


would have made the mistake of in Syria two years ago had Parliament


not stopped the Government intervening on behalf of the rebels.


Air strikes alone will not succeed. What we need is a comprehensive


strategy. On the non-military front, we need to make sure we do more to


address issues such as why we are not as rocketing Daesh-ISIL's


prominence on social media and financial interests. But the key


question we cannot answer is who is going to supply the local ground


forces to actually defeat Daesh on the ground? And if we cannot answer


that question, it begs also have other questions as well, and the


idea that there are 70,000 moderates left, even if there are, we risk


ignoring the lesson of Libya, when once the common enemy was defeated,


but coalition of forces against Gaddafi fragmented into a thousand


militias and a further civil war Enes Unal. There have been no


answers forthcoming. Thank you very much. The Government


said tonight that those who will be voting against Arab terrorist


sympathisers. I do feel about being called a terrorist sympathiser by


your own Prime Minister? I won't comment on a private meeting, but I


have served in the Army and on the streets of Northern Ireland. I was a


platoon commander in Northern Ireland, and I do think we must not


resort to such language. Instead we must look at the actual evidence


before us, and there is clearly a lack of ground forces to take Daesh


on, and that is one of the key issues we have to address. Let me


put that straight back to David Aaronovitch. It won't necessarily be


just symbolic for us, but it won't be the game changer we think. What


is actually needed is some support for the 70,000 ground troops who


frankly are too busy fighting Assad and are not going to move that


position unless we can guarantee protection from IS. Firstly, there


is a fallacy in this which is the dramatic, which is the idea that


this is not also happening in Iraq. Isis isn't just in Syria, it is in


Iraq, and consequently the ground forces that it faces are partially


in Iraq. So if you are talking about whom eventually is going to take


Raqqa, the answer is I don't know, but I do know that they will take it


quicker if you degrade Isis's military capability. And Matthew


Parris, there is no point in being a mile and a half away and not being


in Syria. In Iraq we are supporting a democratically elected legitimate


government. You are not doing any such thing in Syria. You can always


chase people over the border, but I do find it surprising that David


says he doesn't know who is going to take Raqqa, but we can work all that


out once we have vaporised Isil. Mary Creagh, the other argument


about the problematic nature of the military engagement is that Barack


Obama said tonight it is not that we don't have enough forces to deal


with IS, it is the fact that right now we don't have enough targets.


Isn't that the problem? This is not a well worked out strategy. IS don't


operate in a way that you can pin them down so easily? I was present


at a briefing with the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary,


and I asked this question about the 70,000 forces. I got the answer


there were 40,000 forces and 30,000 perhaps Islamic law say is who are


willing to be part of a political settlement, and then there are


20,000 much more Islamist forces who are not willing to be part of that


settlement, so there is complexity underground, but those Free Syrian


Army forces have the degraded over time that Assad, and if we carry on


doing nothing in Syria, there will be no opposition to Assad, nobody on


the ground to take over. David Carr tellers who is going to


take Raqqa. Who will take it from IS? I hope it will be local forces


on the ground, but the advice we had from the local Lieutenant General


there today said they wanted to be local forces. Kurds? Yes, but there


will be territorial limits to where they want to go, but what they don't


want is Western Force is coming in because they don't think that is


helpful locally. You are against military action, tell me why you


don't think that strategy will work. It is strange to hear you talking


about Syria and asking the wrong question. If the Free Syrian Army is


being bombed every single day, and they are dealing with Aral bombs,


how do you think they are going to come and take ground as you command


them to do? They are not your forces. They have their battle to


fight, which is Assad. If you don't abate the right question, if you


don't have the right priority, you are not going to defeat ices or


solve the problems in Syria, and you are certainly going to add to the


tragedy of the Syrian people. Can I come back at that? This is the


question you asked. I totally agree with you. My concern having met with


Syrian refugees in Lebanon two months ago is how we tackle Assad's


reign of terror, and I am clear that a man who uses cluster munitions and


chemical weapons against his own people cannot be allowed to continue


unchecked, and I believe passionately that Syrian lives


matter in all of this. What we need to see is a timetable... But your


leader has a different view. He is not prepared to vote the air


strikes. This has been a very difficult debate, and we have seen


people on all sides of the house voting with their conscience


tomorrow. There is a wide range of opinion reflected on this panel and


reflected across the parties. But back to the Assad question, we need


peace and democratic elections in Syria, and that parallel political


process is now starting in Vienna. There is a confusion here. Air


strikes against ices are not going to stop the tragedy of the Syrian


people. What needs to be discussed in Parliament is the protections of


the Syrian civil youth in case any other... And at the same time, the


Russians, of course. Since the Russians got involved, Isis has


gained so much ground. They are targeting the Free Syrian Army,


hospitals and civil society institutions. What do you say to


David Cameron's argument that we can't let the French and the


Americans do our work for us? We have to be their shoulder to


shoulder, using these Brimstone bombs, taking part? He is saying it


as if his own -- as if it is a party we all have to join. It has been a


year of air strikes against ices, and what is the game? They actually


took all my -- Palmyra, the jewel of Syria, during the air strikes. The


attacks in Paris were planned in the summer of Brussels and Paris, not


Raqqa, so there are much wider issues to be addressed. It is not a


year since American air strikes helped defend the Turkish town of


Kobane on the border and stopped Isis. Ices was their only when the


Kurds went in to take back their cities. They were reluctant, and


they held in cooperation with the ground Force, so where are the


ground forces? That should come first. But what I'm saying is


American helped maintain Kobane and keep it. And there will be similar


other situations in Syria as there are in Iraq which Britain can


conceivably help with, and to me, that alone would be sufficient


reason. The rest of Syria would be reduced to the ground just like


Barney. What you need is a political solution first and foremost. So the


regime stopped attacking the civilians, the Free Syrian Army and


every body else, and having all the Syrians framed in the political


circle so that they can all tackle ices. There is no more room for more


forces in this. Two very quick issues. What is the difference


between Syria and Iraq? As Matthew says, first of all, we are in Iraq


because we were invited to do so, but secondly, there was another


fundamental difference, and that is that on the Iraqi payroll, you have


hundreds of thousands if not a million on the security forces side.


In Syria you have nothing actually of the sort. And having returned


from the Middle East last week, the Foreign Affairs Committee went over


and had a look. What we are being told actually is that there are no


or very few moderates left in this civil war, and the idea of turning


the Free Syrian Army against Daesh is just nonsense.


The government has been careful to insist that bombing Syria is part


of a clear diplomatic plan for the future of Syria,


involving a representative and legitimate government.


The Vienna Process is crucial to this.


The meeting in Vienna earlier this month was the


second time Iran and Saudi Arabia had sat together at the same table.


And the 17 parties to the talks have agreed, in principle,


on a way forward - a UN-brokered ceasefire, a transitional government


But huge questions remain, not least what happens to Bashar al-Assad.


Making the case that it's not - in a minute long speech -


Without political strategies no military action could achieve


The lack of political legitimacy is at the root of the Syrian conflict.


So building a legitimate Syrian state should be the strategy.


So no exclusion of whole sectors of the society


It means a constitution that guaranties equal


citizens rights, fair distribution of wealth, human rights and freedom


Syrians are taking the risk of dying in order to reach countries


that provide these rights - they are not going to Saudi or Iran.


Getting there requires an inclusive political solution that takes into


consideration all the grievances, and gives the conflicting parties


the tool of politics rather than arms to settle their differences.


Because dividing the country to winners and loser, like what


happened in Iraq, will only generate extremism and further conflicts.


Only in this way the Syrian-Syrian fight


will end, and only then can the military and other power groups


All Syria needs to get there from the rest of the world,


including Britain, is to support the solution to the conflict and not


And now suggesting there is a clear diplomatic plan let's hear from


There are a number of reasons that may be believe it is time for the UK


to take action in Syria. After the Paris attack and


President Hollande's request from our law makers to vote yes to


Uk military action in Syria, However, I still believe without a


comprehensive and overall strategy to win the war and a post-conflict


plan, military action will not Therefore I believe that all forces


involved, both the allies and regional forces, such as Saudis,


Qatar and Turkey - on the one hand - and Iran and Russia on the other,


should put aside their differences and come up with


a plan to cooperate to defeat Isil Without addressing the issue


of civil war in Syria, Bombing now is one step towards


preventing Isil taking more territory


and expanding their influence. Next a comprehensive


strategy must be agreed. Coming to our guests. You support


air strikes. But do you think a diplomatic strategy as outlined by


the Vienna process and so forth is feasible if Bashar al-Assad


the Vienna process and so forth is anywhere in the equation? I


understand Isis is a anywhere in the equation? I


to global anywhere in the equation? I


community including the UK is to respond militarily somehow.


community including the UK is to my only concern, my biggest concern


rather is what measures are in place to protect civilians. This is one


issue. The second issue is what about the narratives of hatred and


religious supremacy that is fuelling Isis and enabling it to recruit more


supporters? The third issue is Isis cannot be defeated by air strikes


only. This leads us to the issue of ground intervention. Talking about


ground intervention, boots on the ground, who are they, these troops?


Are we talking about the Iraqi army and popular mobilisation, largely


Are we talking about the Iraqi army sectarian? Are we talking about the


Are we talking about the Iraqi army Peshmerga and Kurdish forces? Well


the gentleman behind you, Peter, you Peshmerga and Kurdish forces? Well


have direct experience. Your son was Peshmerga and Kurdish forces? Well


Iraq. When you hear of post-conflict Peshmerga and Kurdish forces? Well


it make you think? I do not think they have a clue about post-conflict


resolution. When they talk about dropping bombs and the first


resolution. When they talk about that is dropped, will start people


joining up. People are going to die, do not think they are not. People


are going to die in Syria as the drop the bombs, Isil will not stay


there to be bombed, they will move round the world. What you then get


as we have seen in Paris, we're coming up to a really busy time, I


am worried to death that somewhere in England in some big shopping


centre, a little kid going to Santa Claus is going to be hurt. It is not


soldiers or politicians who will be Claus is going to be hurt. It is not


blown up. We will come onto the issue of safety in a moment. We have


no idea who would be in charge of Syria. We want a democratically


elected Syrian government in charge of the Syrian army to bring peace to


that country. And the Syrians amongst us tonight are united in


that role. But if you look at factions in Syria, all in their own


geographical areas working for their own and without any kind of idea who


will emerge as a leader, you cannot have a resolution? The Russians and


the Iranians, both eager participants in this than we are


ever going to be, are determined to keep President Assad in place. I do


not see the beginnings of this international agreement you are


speaking. President Assad was the cause of these problems. I agree


that he should temporarily stay where he is and then gradually find


a coalition or replacement. President Assad would not be kept


and the Iranians know that as well. Would any of the different factions,


Free Syrian Army, come to the table if Bashar al-Assad was there even


for five days? No, people in Syria needs their dictator to be taken


away from the future of Syria. We have been trying for five years to


get rid of him. How can you tell other that her son was tortured to


death by his forces and he is going to remain. And you're also


negotiating with him, making him legitimate and important. There are


some ironies here because people like me who supported action against


Assad in September 2013, which John and Matthew were against, for


precisely these reasons. And of course the biggest killer in Syria


has been President Assad and his barrel bombs. We have to make a


distinction between two situations. The long-term situation in Syria and


there was a large amount of agreement between my colleagues on


the right about the kind of general process. The problem is that we'll


take a long time and involves many actors with competing interests. And


in the meantime we have Isis and Daesh out there... But if you bomb


Islamic State, you just shore up President Assad? A man doing


business with Islamic State for oil is much as far as I can see Assad


has never been in the business of taking out Islamic State. But it is


surely a defeatist attitude to say as long as the Russians and Iranians


are there in support of Bashar al-Assad then there can be no


settlement? Because that is the equation. That is the point. The


reason that we stopped the government taking the side of the


rebels, and we are pleased we did that because we would be taking the


side of Isil and Daesh which has emerged from the rebels. So the plan


was not coherent and illustrates a wider issue. We have a long wish


list of what we would like by way of a political settlement... About


reinforces the point that there is no coherent long-term strategy with


regards to how we defeat Daesh. And without that, air strikes alone when


already aircraft are chasing too few targets. But failures elsewhere in


Libya and Iraq cannot be the barrier to action for ever. But we've got to


learn the lessons and one of the key one is we need a realistic and


long-term strategy that takes care of the whole process put up David


from the audience? A couple of things that had not been mentioned


in detail, and we have to defeat Isis in some way before we


concentrate on Bashar al-Assad. We should concentrate on trying to stop


Isis using the internet in the way they do and trying to cut off their


financial assets and the way they get revenue in the millions. No one


seems to be doing that in any effective way. Absolutely. We have


to cut off the flow of finance and arms to Islamic State. You have had


three years to do that. We were not engaged in Syria. I greatly regret


the decision by party in 2013. We have a mass murderer using chemical


weapons on sleeping children at night in a civilian area of Damascus


and we had that vote and I turned on my television and saw him bombing


school in Syria and thought this is the man we have allowed to continue.


We allowed President Assad to continue to murder his own civilians


and then he created a vacuum into which Islamic State have moved and


have spread their warfare and jihad eateries. This attitude allowed


Assad to stay in position? Well it was imposed from the beginning that


the head of state should step down. Russia supports their own narrative,


not Assad himself. When the bombing was discussed in 2013 it was not to


take over from President Assad. So it only prolongs the conflict. The


question is why the UK and Americans and others said something they


cannot deliver. They said the head of state should step down. So they


should go back and talk to Moscow. We must move on


Fundamental to the Prime Minister's case


for bombing Syria is that it will make the streets of Britain safer.


David Cameron told the Commons that the security services have disrupted


seven terrorist plots to attack the UK this year,


all of which were linked to Isis or inspired by their propaganda.


Attacking Isis on their home turf reduces their


ability to plan attacks abroad and reduces their appeal, making attacks


much as we have seen in Paris less likely - so the logic goes.


Or does bombing simply make us more of a target?


Making the case that attacking Isis makes us safer,


Tomorrow I will be voting to extend UK airstrikes to defeat Isil


This is one of the most important decisions an MP can make and it


30 British holidaymakers were murdered on the beach in Tunisia


in July and we know that seven Isil-related terror attacks


against British people have been stopped in the past year.


We need a fresh diplomatic effort to bring peace to Syria and the Vienna


talks offer a real hope of that, with Russia,


Saudi Arabia and Iran all around the table for the first time.


But there is no hope of negotiating with Isil.


We must stop the flow of fighters, finance and arms to their HQ


We need military action to stop them murdering Syrians and to disrupt


their propaganda machine which attracts fighters to pursue


-- which poisons young minds and cause them to fight.


For the past 14 months, we have worked with 60 other countries, in


It makes no sense to turn our planes back at the Syrian border


France and the US, our closest allies, have called


on us to work in solidarity with them to defeat our common enemy.


We must act to keep our country safe.


Action has consequences, but so too does in action.


And now suggesting it makes us more insecure is Mathew Parris.


I have no certainties with which to confront David Cameron's


uncertainties. There's something many of us who


don't want Britain to join the We fear that killing people in Raqqa


may put British cities Is it cowardly, is it irresponsible,


to say that? If I were persuaded by the Prime


Minister that Britain's bombers in Syrian skies would in the end make


the world safer, then exposing our own citizens to a possible temporary


increase in the risk of terrorism here would be a sacrifice we should


make. But I don't believe David Cameron is in the position to


feel confident this will happen. He doesn't know enough -


none of us does - to say that. Yet he puts that assertion right


at the centre of his argument. Where are these Isil terrorist


command and control HQs that Modern terrorism doesn't


need physical HQs. Tornado bombers are useless against


the Internet and mobile phone. The inevitable collateral killing


of thousands of uninvolved Syrians - together with our country's clear


identification with this rain of fire, has a terrible potential


to breed new enemies. I cannot be sure the Prime Minister


is wrong. But I'm pretty sure he isn't


as confident as he says. I wonder whether he doesn't really


know what will happen, but just feels it's inappropriate that a big


fight is taking place in a just David Aaronovitch, there are no


certainties. France is in the forefront, and look what happened in


Paris. You don't know that home-grown terrorists, as they were


in France, will not react to attacks by Britain on ices. France was also


attacked back in January and the cause for that was people making


cartoons. Mary's argument was more subtle than you are allowed. She


wasn't talking about command and control centres in quite that way.


What she was saying was that the example of having territory which


you call the caliphate is something that was acting as a propaganda


pulled to jihadis as well as being a place where organisation could


happen relatively unscrutinised. And I think that is a strong point and


you need to deal with it. But isn't part of the problem that by going on


the attack, Isis wants us to attacks, and yet this is a hydra


headed beast. They don't want us to attack. They want us to leave them


alone to regain strength and recruit more fighters, and at a time of


their choosing, they will choose to attack us. They now control an area


the size of Great Britain, and in Iraq we have managed to take back a


third of their territory. As long as they are able to be there and say


that they are a history of paying salaries, they are able to recruit


people to come and murder other people. Isis is acting like a state,


with the health service edit own oil, and we are allowing us to have


and we have to stop it. I agree, but you cannot take ground back. Being


an infantryman in the army, you cannot take ground back by air


strikes alone. You need to identify local ground troops who will take


that ground, and nobody can. If you can't supply the ground troops, and


there is a great disagreement about this, you should think twice about


committing to military action into you know where you are going. That


doesn't necessarily mean that the streets of written will be less


safe. We just don't know. Matthew can speak for himself. What I do


know is that there are already too many aircrafts chasing too few


targets in Syria. You should start by protecting the civilians in


Syria, and you should give the people the chance to fight their


fight. If you want to tackle Isis, tackle the root of the problem,


which is the great oppression, the great injustice of the Syrian


people. David, coming back to this point, don't you think that some


ices sympathiser in this country who is disaffected, who has to stay here


because he or she cannot travel abroad, is more likely to turn that


I -- turn their anger on this country now? It strikes me they have


any number of reasons they could give for wanting to attack us as


things are, as they gave examples in Paris and so on, and they don't need


this as a case. The thing that stops us attacking is the fact that our


secret security forces have so far stopped them. When we fail, they


will attack. It seems that uncertainty is a theme


tonight, and I think war should only be a last resort. If we are so


uncertain about the situation in circumstances, we need to make sure


we have exhausted all other options. Speed up the peace talks, strengthen


why P forces. Let's not go haphazard into this. But when David


Cameron says that we can't rely on our allies like France and America


doing this business for us, do you feel that actually that has some


purchase? Of course not. Considering the civilian casualties taking place


and that will take place if we get involved, that is a very cosmetic


argument, saying that we need to join our friends. The one thing we


haven't spoken about is what comes next. A comprehensive exit strategy,


and something I am concerned about is that thousands of able who will


become displaced. There is a refugee crisis happening across Europe, and


it will get worse. We haven't spoken about how we're going to deal with


it, and I think we need to talk about that. I agree that the UK


should degrade Isis's capabilities and defeated, but being an ex-army


officer, I am not sure that air strikes on their own would make a


big difference militarily, and I'm not sure about the impact they would


have on our security here in the UK, because we are talking about


home-grown terrorism and extremism, we're talking about narratives of


hatred here in the UK, and we're talking about lone wolves. So I'm


not sure how these air strikes would help us.


What you're saying is that not attacking Syria isn't going to make


it any less likely that we would have home-grown terrorists? I don't


know which will make it less likely. It might make it more likely. What


I'm sure Rob is that raining bombs down on Raqqa is not going to stop


Isil would-be terrorists to and planning and perhaps carrying out


terrorist atrocities all over the world. They will continue do this,


and the best way to deal with this is intelligent and money. But in the


meantime, you would advocate that we do absolutely nothing, we sit on our


hands? Yes. The problem is, there isn't an exit strategy. We have been


bombing in Iraq for a year to no great effect. You don't need an exit


strategy when you have only got aircraft, you just stop. I want to


come to the point that the gentleman made about the YPG. If they say to


you, you would like some Essam, would you be in favour of it? They


are on the ground. You can't say, fight Isis on the ground, we support


you, but we won't be giving any support. I think that is what we


want to see. Raining bombs down on Raqqa would be bad targeting by the


RAF if that is simply what they did. I don't imagine that is what they


are planning. But if this escalate as a result of air strikes, and


there is much more engagement, and we are not getting anywhere, is it


absolutely the case that you think that Britain should never put troops


on the ground? No, that is not the case at all. I am not speaking from


my colleagues here, but I think there was a very good argument for


an international force to secure Palmyra. It could've been done. And


it would have sent a signal? I completely disagree. David supported


the Iraq war, that was a gross error. We put Western troops into


yet another intervention in this region, and it will just flame the


sick Arianism, and the religious divides. -- the sectarianism and


religious divides. So many different groups in Syria


wants so many different things, Christians among them, you can never


settle it. And that is the concern. The coalition, the Free Syrian Army


facing Assad could splinter into a thousand militia as we saw in Libya,


and that brings us back to the exit strategy. When we talk about a gob


rounds of strategy long-term, that includes the exit strategy, it is


got to include who is going to command that ground. So in that


case, if you don't believe that we have an exit strategy, is what you


are saying just now that what we have to do realistically is leave


Bashar al-Assad in position now? We need to identify by whatever means


who are the ground forces... That is a yes! Without ground forces, all of


us can accept, air strikes alone can never... It strikes me that if that


is what you are saying, then ultimately, if we don't have those


forces on the ground, you do have to leave Bashar al-Assad where he is. I


think there is a point where you have got to say... I think Matthew


Parris's words are irresponsible in raining bombs down. Nobody is


suggesting we do that to Assad. We want to target bombs, and also cut


off their supplies. If we hit Isis as well as we can disrupt their


ability to take effect against us... And can you respond to that?


That is always the aim, you never aim to exact collateral damage, but


you always end up doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, we're coming to the


closing moments of our programme, so we want final thoughts. stop we are


only being asked to continue doing what we're doing in Iraq. What we


are doing will be little enough but would be something and it would


help. There is no easy decision in foreign policy, just hard choices.


The present the greatest threat to the west, is a President Assad or


Isil? If it is Isil then we have to identify how best to capture


background with local forces. At the moment because we cannot answer


those questions and do not know what the exit strategy is, we should be


cautious. The more you intervene the more you take responsibility for


events on the ground. The United Nations called on all countries to


use all necessary means to tackle the global terror threat posed by


Islamic State. We must tackle the ideology at home, work against them


in Syria and take all steps to reduce the loss of civilian life in


that country. If any of you here who were undecided have firmed up their


opinion, can you tell me? I am more anxious about going to war. And if


they're asking for all necessary action, I want to see the funding


stopped. I have moved more to the anti-airstrikes position because it


sounds to me like air strikes is one thing but we will snowball into


something else but we have been in before, another Iraq. And the


gentleman at the back? I think there is no clear evidence that bombing


Syria will make London or Manchester safer. I have not heard anything of


that tonight. Thank you all very much. That is all we have time for.


Less than half of voters back air strikes on Syria according to The


Times front page tomorrow. And the UK strategy is based on wishful


thinking and poor information, the Daily Telegraph. Cameron launches an


all-out attack on Labour ahead of the vote. And the Daily Telegraph


Jeremy Corbyn the terrorist sympathiser. That is all we have


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