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The situation in Iraq

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01 October 2014
House of Commons Last Friday there was a vote in the House of Commons on UK involvement in air strikes against ISIL in Iraq. Below is a letter that I have today sent to constituents who have taken the time to contact me about this important matter. It explains why I voted to support the air strikes and sets out some of my wider views about the situation in Iraq.

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Thank you for contacting me regarding the decision of the House of Commons to approve air strikes by UK armed forces against ISIL in Iraq.

Please accept my apologies for the slightly delayed response. I was contacted by a significant number of constituents, both for and against UK involvement in airstrikes and I considered the arguments very carefully before deciding how I should vote. 

I understand the deep unease felt by many people about the UK committing to military force again the Middle East. 

I was sceptical last year about the case for military action against Syria and believe it was right then to question the objective of the proposed strikes, the legal basis for that action and the impact such strikes could have had on violence across the entire region.

However, the military action approved by the House of Commons last week (for which I voted) is very different in nature to either the earlier war in Iraq or that which was contemplated against Syria last year.

The UK has been formally asked to provide military assistance by the new Iraqi government. Given the request for assistance, I believe our military involvement is lawful. Parliament’s decision last week relates only to action against ISIL in Iraq (not elsewhere) and it does not allow the UK to deploy combat troops on the ground. 

It is clear that no diplomatic effort can reach the leadership of ISIL and that they are extremely dangerous both to the local population and to UK nationals in the region. I believe that if left to acquire territory as they have been, there is a serious risk that ISIL would soon overthrow the government of Iraq, rendering the country a safe haven and training ground for terrorism directed at the UK. 

I appreciate that some people would like to see this situation resolved diplomatically, and, ideally I would also have preferred a non-military solution. However, I do not think this was credible in this case. 

Much concern has been voiced about the possible outcomes of this action but we must recognise that inaction also has its consequences. I believe these would have been grave for the people of Iraq, the wider region and the UK. It is for these reasons that I voted to support UK involvement in airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. 


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