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Air strikes against ISIL

On Friday Parliament voted to join the American led air strikes in Iraq in response to the Iraq government having requested British support.  All things considered I believe this is the right thing to do.

In my opinion allied forces withdrew too soon from Iraq which saw Maliki's government and army fail to function effectively.

Over the past two years Iraq has not been able to defend itself against the barbaric group calling itself Islamic State.

Their description of themselves is delusional, they are a perversion of Islam and to evidence this you need look no further than the way they are treating fellow Muslims in Iraq and Syria. They certainly have no state and everything possible must be done to ensure their caliphate does not take root.

The world now finds itself having to decide what to do about the aggression of ISIS that threatens all faiths and none and is suspected to have funds of $2,000,000,000 and up to 30,000 members.

There are many unknowns in the decision to send our forces to Iraq, how long will it take, what will follow in the event of success or failure and whether British involvement will evoke further radicalisation in the UK. That said, based on what we do know, it would be wrong to turn our back on the Iraqi request, especially as we have been so involved over the last decade.

Three things that I believe are crucial alongside the air strikes. Cutting off the income supply of ISIS. A committed intervention in Iraq that not only decimates ISIL but supports Iraq once ISIL is defeated. The last war has taught us there is no quick fix. And finally that moderates and progressives around the world work together to tackle extremists head on and provide an alternative vision for collaboration between the Middle East and the West.

I was glad of the widespread support from Parliament, with dissenting voices a minority. This is not only about standing up against evil or protecting Muslims or defending the slaughter of Brits, the widespread gains made by ISIS over such a short period destabilise the whole region.

Britain must play it's part in eradicating this criminal movement which has infiltrated our shores through the radicalisation of British Muslims.

Ed Miliband wrote to me on the decision for Britain to launch airstrikes against ISIL, which you may find of interest.


Today, I voted for British air strikes against ISIL in Iraq. I want to share my reasons for this with you.

ISIL is a murderous organisation. It has ambitions for a state of its own -- a Caliphate across the Middle East, run according to horrific values. And it is threatening to undermine the democratic state of Iraq.

We have seen its hostage-taking of innocent British citizens, but it is not just British citizens who they are threatening: they also threaten Christians, Yazidis, fellow Muslims, Sunni and Shia, from many different countries and backgrounds. They threaten anyone who does not subscribe to their deeply perverted ideology.

The truth is that ISIL is murdering Muslims. Military action against ISIL is not an attack on Islam.

We cannot stand by against the threat of ISIL in Iraq, but in acting against them we need to learn the lessons of the past.

That means a comprehensive strategy, humanitarian and political as well as military; rooted in the region. Some of this is underway, but more needs to be done.

I understand the reason for many people's wariness about military action and I share it.

I was not in the House of Commons in 2003, but I was not in favour of that war. I understand that some will wonder if this is a repeat of that experience. In my view, it's not.

The decision today is about supporting a democratic state, not overturning an existing regime. There is also no question of British ground troops being deployed.

There are six criteria I believe we must use to judge when military action is right and to make sure we learn the lessons of the past. These are: the action must have just cause; it must be the last resort; it must be of clear legality; it must have a reasonable prospect of success; there must be support in the region; and it must be proportionate.

I have scrutinised these six conditions and believe they are met in this case.

You can read my scrutiny of these six conditions here:

There is no debate about the legal basis for action. There is no argument about whether military action is a last resort.

There is also broad international support behind action, not a divided world. All 28 EU member states and the Arab League are providing support. Five Arab states are taking part in military action.

As always, I have huge admiration for the bravery, spirit, and the duty displayed by our armed forces, who will act on the decision taken by Parliament today.

There is no graver decision for our Parliament and our country than the one taken today. Intervention always has risks, but ISIL unchecked means more persecution of the innocent and a dismembered Iraq would be more dangerous for Britain.

I believe that taking military action against ISIL in Iraq is the right course of action in promoting our values and protecting our security.


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