01/12/2015 Newsnight


01/12/2015

In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.


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On the brink of war - a Newsnight special

:00:51.:00:52.

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

:00:53.:00:55.

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

:00:56.:00:58.

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

:00:59.:01:01.

For some parliamentarians the agonising will continue

:01:02.:01:02.

Just this evening, the Foreign Affairs Select committee narrowly

:01:03.:01:05.

approved a resolution stating that the PM had not adequately addressed

:01:06.:01:08.

Meanwhile, the Stop the War coalition have been

:01:09.:01:11.

There will be Conservatives who vote against,

:01:12.:01:14.

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

:01:15.:01:17.

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

:01:18.:01:20.

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

:01:21.:01:23.

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

:01:24.:01:26.

Syrians, passionate advocates for military action, and others equally

:01:27.:01:28.

passionate about the perils of joining the Americans the

:01:29.:01:30.

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

:01:31.:01:34.

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

:01:35.:01:37.

to a dramatic recall of Parliament in August 2013.

:01:38.:01:39.

The call to arms followed a suspected chemical weapons attack

:01:40.:01:41.

on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on the 21st

:01:42.:01:44.

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

:01:45.:01:47.

The US and the UK said that the Assad

:01:48.:01:49.

In the event, the coalition government's motion

:01:50.:01:52.

David Cameron said he would respect that defeat.

:01:53.:02:02.

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

:02:03.:02:05.

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

:02:06.:02:16.

I get that, and the government will act accordingly.

:02:17.:02:18.

Early in March 2013 Islamic fighters had entered

:02:19.:02:22.

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

:02:23.:02:26.

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

:02:27.:02:30.

They quickly declared a caliphate across Iraq and Syria,

:02:31.:02:34.

Two months later, the city of Sinjar was captured

:02:35.:02:39.

Within a week President Obama authorised the first air strikes.

:02:40.:02:50.

Ten days later, Isis uploaded a video entitled,

:02:51.:02:51.

It shows the beheading of the American hostage James Foley.

:02:52.:02:57.

It featured a masked militant with an English accent.

:02:58.:03:00.

This militant became known as Jihadi John, and more gruesome

:03:01.:03:08.

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

:03:09.:03:11.

And US warplanes began to bomb Raqqa.

:03:12.:03:20.

By September, France had joined in air strikes over Syria

:03:21.:03:22.

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

:03:23.:03:30.

in Syria hours after parliamentary approval in Russia.

:03:31.:03:34.

On November 13, Paris suffered a devastating series

:03:35.:03:37.

of attacks, leaving 130 dead and many more injured.

:03:38.:03:43.

Isis also claimed attacks in Tunisia, Beirut,

:03:44.:03:45.

and the downing of the Russian tourist plane over Sinai.

:03:46.:03:52.

These recent attacks have galvanised governments to prepare joint air

:03:53.:03:54.

strikes to degrade and eradicate Isis.

:03:55.:04:02.

Supporting air strikes in Syria are the Labour MP Mary

:04:03.:04:05.

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

:04:06.:04:10.

Against, are the conservative MP John Barron,

:04:11.:04:15.

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

:04:16.:04:18.

We will address three questions tonight

:04:19.:04:20.

In front of them an audience of people,

:04:21.:04:28.

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

:04:29.:04:31.

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

:04:32.:04:47.

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

:04:48.:04:54.

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

:04:55.:04:58.

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

:04:59.:05:04.

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

:05:05.:05:10.

about not repeating the same mistakes of Iraq.

:05:11.:05:17.

The first question we want to address is the military

:05:18.:05:20.

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

:05:21.:05:33.

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

:05:34.:05:35.

everybody agrees is necessary. First David Aaronovitvch,

:05:36.:05:44.

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

:05:45.:05:46.

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

:05:47.:05:51.

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

:05:52.:05:54.

sought refuge abroad - or to "bomb Syria",

:05:55.:05:58.

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

:05:59.:06:01.

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

:06:02.:06:04.

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

:06:05.:06:07.

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

:06:08.:06:12.

existing pressure on the beheaders, enslavers, rapists and amputators

:06:13.:06:16.

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

:06:17.:06:19.

resistance fighters who - not Assad - have borne the brunt

:06:20.:06:24.

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

:06:25.:06:27.

of Daesh to plan attacks on European It will not end

:06:28.:06:30.

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

:06:31.:06:36.

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

:06:37.:06:39.

by ground forces, probably consisting

:06:40.:06:45.

of local allies assisted by special It does not detract from

:06:46.:06:47.

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

:06:48.:06:54.

British forces can help damage Isis and give succour

:06:55.:07:02.

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

:07:03.:07:04.

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

:07:05.:07:20.

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

:07:21.:07:24.

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

:07:25.:07:29.

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

:07:30.:07:33.

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

:07:34.:07:36.

not stopped the Government intervening on behalf of the rebels.

:07:37.:07:41.

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

:07:42.:07:46.

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

:07:47.:07:50.

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

:07:51.:07:59.

prominence on social media and financial interests. But the key

:08:00.:08:03.

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

:08:04.:08:09.

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

:08:10.:08:14.

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

:08:15.:08:19.

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

:08:20.:08:23.

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

:08:24.:08:27.

but coalition of forces against Gaddafi fragmented into a thousand

:08:28.:08:33.

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

:08:34.:08:39.

answers forthcoming. Thank you very much. The Government

:08:40.:08:49.

said tonight that those who will be voting against Arab terrorist

:08:50.:08:55.

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

:08:56.:09:00.

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

:09:01.:09:03.

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

:09:04.:09:07.

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

:09:08.:09:11.

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

:09:12.:09:15.

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

:09:16.:09:19.

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

:09:20.:09:24.

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

:09:25.:09:30.

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

:09:31.:09:33.

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

:09:34.:09:38.

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

:09:39.:09:41.

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

:09:42.:09:47.

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

:09:48.:09:52.

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

:09:53.:09:57.

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

:09:58.:10:01.

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

:10:02.:10:06.

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

:10:07.:10:12.

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

:10:13.:10:19.

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

:10:20.:10:26.

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

:10:27.:10:30.

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

:10:31.:10:34.

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

:10:35.:10:38.

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

:10:39.:10:44.

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

:10:45.:10:48.

about the problematic nature of the military engagement is that Barack

:10:49.:10:53.

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

:10:54.:10:57.

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

:10:58.:11:01.

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

:11:02.:11:05.

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

:11:06.:11:10.

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

:11:11.:11:13.

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

:11:14.:11:18.

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

:11:19.:11:22.

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

:11:23.:11:27.

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

:11:28.:11:33.

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

:11:34.:11:36.

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

:11:37.:11:42.

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

:11:43.:11:47.

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

:11:48.:11:53.

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

:11:54.:11:59.

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

:12:00.:12:02.

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

:12:03.:12:07.

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

:12:08.:12:11.

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

:12:12.:12:17.

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

:12:18.:12:21.

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

:12:22.:12:26.

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

:12:27.:12:33.

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

:12:34.:12:37.

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

:12:38.:12:42.

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

:12:43.:12:48.

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

:12:49.:12:52.

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

:12:53.:12:56.

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

:12:57.:13:02.

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

:13:03.:13:07.

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

:13:08.:13:11.

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

:13:12.:13:16.

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

:13:17.:13:19.

chemical weapons against his own people cannot be allowed to continue

:13:20.:13:22.

unchecked, and I believe passionately that Syrian lives

:13:23.:13:27.

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

:13:28.:13:32.

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

:13:33.:13:35.

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

:13:36.:13:39.

people on all sides of the house voting with their conscience

:13:40.:13:43.

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

:13:44.:13:47.

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

:13:48.:13:53.

peace and democratic elections in Syria, and that parallel political

:13:54.:13:56.

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

:13:57.:14:00.

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

:14:01.:14:05.

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

:14:06.:14:09.

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

:14:10.:14:15.

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

:14:16.:14:20.

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

:14:21.:14:23.

hospitals and civil society institutions. What do you say to

:14:24.:14:27.

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

:14:28.:14:31.

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

:14:32.:14:35.

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

:14:36.:14:44.

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

:14:45.:14:48.

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

:14:49.:14:57.

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

:14:58.:15:05.

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

:15:06.:15:09.

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

:15:10.:15:14.

year since American air strikes helped defend the Turkish town of

:15:15.:15:18.

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

:15:19.:15:27.

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

:15:28.:15:34.

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

:15:35.:15:37.

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

:15:38.:15:43.

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

:15:44.:15:48.

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

:15:49.:15:52.

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

:15:53.:15:59.

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

:16:00.:16:02.

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

:16:03.:16:07.

regime stopped attacking the civilians, the Free Syrian Army and

:16:08.:16:09.

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

:16:10.:16:16.

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

:16:17.:16:23.

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

:16:24.:16:27.

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

:16:28.:16:31.

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

:16:32.:16:34.

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

:16:35.:16:39.

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

:16:40.:16:45.

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

:16:46.:16:50.

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

:16:51.:16:53.

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

:16:54.:16:59.

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

:17:00.:17:04.

the Free Syrian Army against Daesh is just nonsense.

:17:05.:17:08.

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

:17:09.:17:11.

of a clear diplomatic plan for the future of Syria,

:17:12.:17:14.

involving a representative and legitimate government.

:17:15.:17:15.

The Vienna Process is crucial to this.

:17:16.:17:17.

The meeting in Vienna earlier this month was the

:17:18.:17:20.

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

:17:21.:17:23.

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

:17:24.:17:26.

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

:17:27.:17:30.

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

:17:31.:17:38.

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

:17:39.:17:45.

Without political strategies no military action could achieve

:17:46.:17:50.

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

:17:51.:17:57.

So building a legitimate Syrian state should be the strategy.

:17:58.:18:01.

So no exclusion of whole sectors of the society

:18:02.:18:09.

It means a constitution that guaranties equal

:18:10.:18:14.

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

:18:15.:18:20.

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

:18:21.:18:23.

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

:18:24.:18:37.

Getting there requires an inclusive political solution that takes into

:18:38.:18:42.

consideration all the grievances, and gives the conflicting parties

:18:43.:18:46.

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

:18:47.:18:57.

Because dividing the country to winners and loser, like what

:18:58.:19:02.

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

:19:03.:19:05.

Only in this way the Syrian-Syrian fight

:19:06.:19:07.

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

:19:08.:19:10.

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

:19:11.:19:16.

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

:19:17.:19:19.

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

:19:20.:19:23.

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

:19:24.:19:33.

to take action in Syria. After the Paris attack and

:19:34.:19:38.

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

:19:39.:19:42.

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

:19:43.:19:47.

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

:19:48.:19:55.

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

:19:56.:19:57.

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

:19:58.:20:10.

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

:20:11.:20:14.

should put aside their differences and come up with

:20:15.:20:21.

a plan to cooperate to defeat Isil Without addressing the issue

:20:22.:20:24.

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

:20:25.:20:31.

preventing Isil taking more territory

:20:32.:20:38.

and expanding their influence. Next a comprehensive

:20:39.:20:40.

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

:20:41.:21:00.

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

:21:01.:21:06.

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

:21:07.:21:11.

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

:21:12.:21:12.

understand Isis is a anywhere in the equation? I

:21:13.:21:16.

to global anywhere in the equation? I

:21:17.:21:22.

community including the UK is to respond militarily somehow.

:21:23.:21:27.

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

:21:28.:21:32.

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

:21:33.:21:39.

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

:21:40.:21:49.

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

:21:50.:21:57.

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

:21:58.:22:04.

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

:22:05.:22:11.

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

:22:12.:22:21.

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

:22:22.:22:25.

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

:22:26.:22:33.

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

:22:34.:22:33.

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

:22:34.:22:37.

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

:22:38.:22:44.

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

:22:45.:22:53.

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

:22:54.:22:57.

resolution. When they talk about dropping bombs and the first

:22:58.:23:08.

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

:23:09.:23:11.

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

:23:12.:23:15.

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

:23:16.:23:21.

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

:23:22.:23:27.

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

:23:28.:23:32.

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

:23:33.:23:36.

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

:23:37.:23:40.

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

:23:41.:23:45.

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

:23:46.:23:53.

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

:23:54.:23:58.

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

:23:59.:24:02.

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

:24:03.:24:06.

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

:24:07.:24:11.

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

:24:12.:24:15.

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

:24:16.:24:21.

the Iranians, both eager participants in this than we are

:24:22.:24:24.

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

:24:25.:24:28.

not see the beginnings of this international agreement you are

:24:29.:24:33.

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

:24:34.:24:36.

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

:24:37.:24:42.

a coalition or replacement. President Assad would not be kept

:24:43.:24:50.

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

:24:51.:24:54.

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

:24:55.:25:00.

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

:25:01.:25:07.

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

:25:08.:25:12.

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

:25:13.:25:16.

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

:25:17.:25:22.

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

:25:23.:25:26.

some ironies here because people like me who supported action against

:25:27.:25:32.

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

:25:33.:25:36.

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

:25:37.:25:40.

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

:25:41.:25:43.

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

:25:44.:25:49.

there was a large amount of agreement between my colleagues on

:25:50.:25:52.

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

:25:53.:25:57.

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

:25:58.:26:02.

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

:26:03.:26:09.

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

:26:10.:26:14.

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

:26:15.:26:20.

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

:26:21.:26:27.

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

:26:28.:26:31.

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

:26:32.:26:35.

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

:26:36.:26:41.

reason that we stopped the government taking the side of the

:26:42.:26:45.

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

:26:46.:26:50.

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

:26:51.:26:56.

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

:26:57.:27:01.

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

:27:02.:27:05.

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

:27:06.:27:13.

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

:27:14.:27:18.

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

:27:19.:27:23.

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

:27:24.:27:28.

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

:27:29.:27:31.

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

:27:32.:27:37.

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

:27:38.:27:40.

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

:27:41.:27:45.

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

:27:46.:27:49.

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

:27:50.:27:55.

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

:27:56.:27:58.

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

:27:59.:28:03.

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

:28:04.:28:09.

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

:28:10.:28:16.

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

:28:17.:28:19.

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

:28:20.:28:24.

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

:28:25.:28:29.

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

:28:30.:28:33.

We allowed President Assad to continue to murder his own civilians

:28:34.:28:38.

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

:28:39.:28:41.

have spread their warfare and jihad eateries. This attitude allowed

:28:42.:28:51.

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

:28:52.:28:58.

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

:28:59.:29:02.

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

:29:03.:29:08.

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

:29:09.:29:12.

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

:29:13.:29:16.

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

:29:17.:29:21.

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

:29:22.:29:29.

Fundamental to the Prime Minister's case

:29:30.:29:30.

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

:29:31.:29:33.

David Cameron told the Commons that the security services have disrupted

:29:34.:29:36.

seven terrorist plots to attack the UK this year,

:29:37.:29:38.

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

:29:39.:29:41.

Attacking Isis on their home turf reduces their

:29:42.:29:43.

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

:29:44.:29:47.

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

:29:48.:29:50.

Or does bombing simply make us more of a target?

:29:51.:29:57.

Making the case that attacking Isis makes us safer,

:29:58.:29:59.

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

:30:00.:30:06.

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

:30:07.:30:10.

30 British holidaymakers were murdered on the beach in Tunisia

:30:11.:30:20.

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

:30:21.:30:23.

against British people have been stopped in the past year.

:30:24.:30:32.

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

:30:33.:30:39.

talks offer a real hope of that, with Russia,

:30:40.:30:42.

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

:30:43.:30:44.

But there is no hope of negotiating with Isil.

:30:45.:30:47.

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

:30:48.:30:50.

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

:30:51.:30:55.

their propaganda machine which attracts fighters to pursue

:30:56.:31:07.

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

:31:08.:31:15.

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

:31:16.:31:18.

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

:31:19.:31:22.

France and the US, our closest allies, have called

:31:23.:31:26.

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

:31:27.:31:29.

We must act to keep our country safe.

:31:30.:31:31.

Action has consequences, but so too does in action.

:31:32.:31:33.

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

:31:34.:31:37.

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

:31:38.:31:43.

uncertainties. There's something many of us who

:31:44.:31:45.

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

:31:46.:31:48.

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

:31:49.:31:52.

to say that? If I were persuaded by the Prime

:31:53.:31:55.

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

:31:56.:32:03.

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

:32:04.:32:06.

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

:32:07.:32:09.

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

:32:10.:32:12.

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

:32:13.:32:15.

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

:32:16.:32:18.

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

:32:19.:32:22.

command and control HQs that Modern terrorism doesn't

:32:23.:32:24.

need physical HQs. Tornado bombers are useless against

:32:25.:32:31.

the Internet and mobile phone. The inevitable collateral killing

:32:32.:32:35.

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

:32:36.:32:39.

identification with this rain of fire, has a terrible potential

:32:40.:32:44.

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

:32:45.:32:46.

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

:32:47.:32:51.

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

:32:52.:32:55.

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

:32:56.:32:59.

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

:33:00.:33:15.

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

:33:16.:33:20.

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

:33:21.:33:23.

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

:33:24.:33:30.

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

:33:31.:33:37.

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

:33:38.:33:40.

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

:33:41.:33:44.

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

:33:45.:33:48.

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

:33:49.:33:52.

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

:33:53.:33:57.

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

:33:58.:34:01.

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

:34:02.:34:08.

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

:34:09.:34:14.

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

:34:15.:34:20.

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

:34:21.:34:23.

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

:34:24.:34:28.

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

:34:29.:34:34.

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

:34:35.:34:37.

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

:34:38.:34:39.

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

:34:40.:34:45.

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

:34:46.:34:50.

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

:34:51.:34:55.

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

:34:56.:34:58.

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

:34:59.:35:03.

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

:35:04.:35:07.

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

:35:08.:35:11.

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

:35:12.:35:14.

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

:35:15.:35:19.

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

:35:20.:35:24.

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

:35:25.:35:31.

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

:35:32.:35:34.

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

:35:35.:35:39.

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

:35:40.:35:44.

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

:35:45.:35:48.

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

:35:49.:35:55.

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

:35:56.:35:58.

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

:35:59.:36:07.

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

:36:08.:36:12.

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

:36:13.:36:17.

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

:36:18.:36:22.

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

:36:23.:36:25.

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

:36:26.:36:32.

will attack. It seems that uncertainty is a theme

:36:33.:36:38.

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

:36:39.:36:42.

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

:36:43.:36:46.

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

:36:47.:36:54.

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

:36:55.:37:00.

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

:37:01.:37:04.

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

:37:05.:37:09.

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

:37:10.:37:13.

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

:37:14.:37:18.

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

:37:19.:37:23.

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

:37:24.:37:28.

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

:37:29.:37:34.

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

:37:35.:37:39.

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

:37:40.:37:42.

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

:37:43.:37:50.

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

:37:51.:37:54.

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

:37:55.:37:59.

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

:38:00.:38:07.

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

:38:08.:38:09.

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

:38:10.:38:13.

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

:38:14.:38:21.

not sure how these air strikes would help us.

:38:22.:38:27.

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

:38:28.:38:30.

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

:38:31.:38:34.

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

:38:35.:38:39.

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

:38:40.:38:44.

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

:38:45.:38:48.

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

:38:49.:38:53.

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

:38:54.:38:59.

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

:39:00.:39:04.

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

:39:05.:39:10.

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

:39:11.:39:15.

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

:39:16.:39:20.

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

:39:21.:39:27.

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

:39:28.:39:32.

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

:39:33.:39:36.

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

:39:37.:39:42.

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

:39:43.:39:46.

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

:39:47.:39:51.

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

:39:52.:39:54.

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

:39:55.:39:59.

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

:40:00.:40:02.

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

:40:03.:40:06.

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

:40:07.:40:10.

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

:40:11.:40:16.

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

:40:17.:40:20.

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

:40:21.:40:24.

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

:40:25.:40:27.

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

:40:28.:40:37.

religious divides. So many different groups in Syria

:40:38.:40:41.

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

:40:42.:40:48.

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

:40:49.:40:51.

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

:40:52.:40:57.

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

:40:58.:41:00.

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

:41:01.:41:06.

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

:41:07.:41:13.

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

:41:14.:41:18.

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

:41:19.:41:25.

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

:41:26.:41:30.

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

:41:31.:41:38.

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

:41:39.:41:43.

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

:41:44.:41:47.

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

:41:48.:41:51.

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

:41:52.:41:59.

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

:42:00.:42:07.

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

:42:08.:42:14.

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

:42:15.:42:18.

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

:42:19.:42:24.

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

:42:25.:42:29.

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

:42:30.:42:32.

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

:42:33.:42:42.

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

:42:43.:42:47.

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

:42:48.:42:52.

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

:42:53.:42:55.

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

:42:56.:43:01.

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

:43:02.:43:05.

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

:43:06.:43:11.

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

:43:12.:43:15.

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

:43:16.:43:21.

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

:43:22.:43:23.

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

:43:24.:43:29.

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

:43:30.:43:34.

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

:43:35.:43:39.

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

:43:40.:43:45.

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

:43:46.:43:51.

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

:43:52.:43:58.

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

:43:59.:44:04.

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

:44:05.:44:07.

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

:44:08.:44:14.

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

:44:15.:44:19.

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

:44:20.:44:24.

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

:44:25.:44:33.

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

:44:34.:44:39.

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

:44:40.:44:43.

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

:44:44.:44:53.

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

:44:54.:44:58.

Jeremy Corbyn the terrorist sympathiser. That is all we have

:44:59.:45:00.

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