But proceed to these air strikes we must. Of that I am in no doubt, and for many reasons. First, there is the unique nature of the threat. We are dealing with a growing army of mediaeval barbarians who have the most modern 21st-century military equipment at their disposal. The methods of ISIS are so barbaric, its manpower, military and financial resources so substantial, that the other regional powers are not a match for it without western support. Initially, its focus has been on securing territorial gains and then expanding within the middle east. Unchecked, the history of fundamentalism shows us that there is no doubt whatsoever that ISIS will then turn its sights on western targets. The Prime

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Minister is quite right when he says that ISIS is a direct threat to us in the UK, and that is clear from the number of young men who have already been recruited by it to join its fight, some of whom will find ways of getting back into this country, no matter what measures we put in place to deter them, to try to mount terrorist attacks.

That is not the only justification. It is only 11 years since we invaded Iraq, an invasion to which we were not invited, for which there was no post-invasion plan, and which presided over the disastrous de-Ba’athification of the Iraqi army. There then followed Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other gross abuses and insults to the Islamic world. It was Lord Salisbury who said:

“Our first duty is towards the people of this country…to maintain their interests and their rights; our second is to all humanity.”

Rehman Chishti: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Margot James: I fear I cannot, because of the time. I am sorry.

Nowhere is Lord Salisbury’s second point more true than in the middle east, a part of the world that this country and France actually governed until just 70 years ago.

In supporting the motion, we should fulfil our moral responsibility to the region by confronting ISIS and supporting the forces of moderation in that part of the world; we should increase our aid to the region, and take in our fair share of refugees—Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon cannot continue to absorb them all, on top of the hundreds of thousands of people, if not approaching 1 million people, whom those countries have already absorbed or are having to absorb; and we should prevent the further spread of militant ideology, especially among young Muslims in Britain.

ISIS is a grave threat to world peace and, in its barbarism, it is a truly satanic force that must be confronted by the rest of humanity. We have the measure of fundamentalist Islam, even if we are still working out exactly and in fine detail how to respond. Austen Chamberlain said of Hitler’s Germany:

“For a people who believe in nothing but force, force is the only answer.”

I am afraid that that will turn out to be true of the war declared by ISIS on all those who do not share its narrow and warped interpretation of Islam, and on all women and girls of whatever faith or of none. Although military solutions are far from enough, it is very unlikely that we will be able to maintain our freedoms without utilising our military strength as part of a much broader strategy.

12.51 pm

Mr Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) (Lab): The immediate decision before us in this debate is about military action, but behind that, this is about values. This is not a war against Islam. Islam is one of the great world religions, which is practised freely, without any harm to anyone, by millions of people in this country and around the world. This is not about Islam, but about co-existence.

Co-existence is absolutely fundamental to our society—the ability to elect Governments who are freely chosen by the people, equality of rights between men and

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women, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are fundamental—but ISIS rejects every tenet of it. That is why ISIS kills, with impunity, fellow Muslims, Christians and Yazidis; engages in sexual exploitation of, and the trade in, women; and cares nothing for anyone who does not sign up to its single truth. This is not about Islam, but about co-existence.

The shadow of past decisions—particularly the 2003 decision to invade Iraq—is a long one in debates such as this one. That is because there is a live debate about the degree to which we are responsible for creating or fomenting violent jihadism. It is important to be clear about that. I accept that past decisions have angered jihadists and perhaps encouraged some people to join them, but it is a fundamental mistake to think that we are responsible for violent jihadism. Let us not forget that the bombing of the World Trade Centre on 11 September took place two years before the invasion of Iraq. Syria, until recent days, has been a byword for non-intervention by the west; yet it is now the headquarters of the global jihad.

Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op): Is it not also the case that there was a plot against the World Trade Centre in the 1990s, that the bombing of USS Cole was in 1998 and that al-Qaeda carried out plots and activities of a similar kind well before the intervention in Iraq?

Mr McFadden: My hon. Friend makes a good point. It is worth stressing that the United States Administration’s policy for the past five or six years has been absolutely to resist intervention, but we still have violent Islamic jihadism and ISIS.

Mr MacNeil: I just want to query the hon. Gentleman’s history. What is the connection between the twin towers attack and Iraq?

Mr McFadden: The point I am making is that violent Islamic jihadism was around long before the decision in 2003.

Beneath the argument that this is really our fault lies a new imperialism—an imperialist conceit that, in foreign policy terms, seeks to divide the world into adults and children. The United States, the United Kingdom and other countries are defined as adults, and movements elsewhere, including the jihadists, are defined almost as children who react only in response to what we do or do not do. That is not the case: they are responsible for their own actions and their own ideology.

No one has forced anyone to behead innocent journalists and aid workers on the internet. No one has forced anyone to go from this country to join a group that carries out such acts. No one has forced anyone to carry out the terrorist acts that we have seen on our own streets. We cannot say this loudly and clearly enough: those who carry out these actions and foment this ideology are adults who are responsible for their own actions.

That brings me to the motion, which sets out a plan for military action in Iraq. I will vote for it, but I have to ask, as other hon. Members have asked, why it is right to carry out such actions against ISIS in Iraq, but not in Syria. The Government have welcomed the action carried out by the United States and Arab countries in Syria in recent days. If it is welcome and right for others to do

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so, why is it not welcome and right for us? If the Government’s position is that it would be illegal or wrong to act in that way in Syria, why is it not illegal or wrong for the United States and the countries taking part in the action? Militarily, we must ask what the point is of chasing ISIS from Iraq through a barely existing border to Syria. Morally, we must ask why it is right to come to the aid of the victims of ISIS who live under a democracy in Iraq, but not those who live under a dictatorship in Syria.

Is not the motion a reflection of where the country stands right now—somewhat limited in its confidence, overburdened by past events, and looking too much in the rear-view mirror? I would say that “Out, damn’d spot” is no basis for taking crucial foreign policy decisions. Instead, we should learn from the past, ally our soft power with hard power, follow through on our decisions to intervene so that we achieve our objectives, and not just define the struggle as a generational one and begin military action, but actually will the means to complete the job.

12.57 pm

Mr Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) (Con): I support the motion today, ever conscious, as we all should be, of the young men and women who will be placed in harm’s way on our account.

I support the motion, but for me it does not go as far as it should. It is a snapshot of what will be required. The permission that it gives for the deployment of Tornadoes from RAF Akrotiri, and the fact that we are telegraphing safe havens over the Syrian border to ISIL are matters of concern. The motion is a snapshot of the issues that we need to address, but for me it does not go anything like far enough. I am quite certain that the House will have to return to some of the issues we have discussed today, particularly the point—made more firmly by Opposition than by Government Members—about the need for us to engage on Syria.

Many other things are required, but in the brief time allowed I want to make four points in support of, but in addition to, the motion we are supporting today. First, there is no doubt that this matter requires a multilateral effort. We need to ensure that the United Nations is engaged in every possible way. Of course, as other hon. Members have said, it will not agree at this point to the motion we want on Syria. Nevertheless, we must engage with the United Nations, not least its humanitarian agencies. The vast power, legitimacy and authority that UN support conveys and gives us cannot be understated.

We need to ensure that there is massive regional support, and the Prime Minister deserves credit for having tried to secure the widest possible coalition. It has been a good start and I was pleased to see the successful meeting with Iran in New York, for which the Government deserve credit. Along with many others in this House, I have concluded that the relationship with Iran needs to be rebased and that much more work needs to be done to try to bring Iran into the comity of nations. Let us not be too pious in this House about British policy towards Iran. It was a British coup d’état in 1953 that removed Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, so we should bear that in mind as we consider the policy.

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Dr Julian Lewis: Just to illustrate some of the complications of the situation, if indeed we do bring Iran back in, is it not the case that Iran will make it absolutely certain that our other professed wish to bring down President Assad never happens? The relationships are very complex.

Mr Andrew Mitchell: My hon. Friend is right that the relationships are very complex, but that argument must not be an argument against trying. We are not trying to do this on any terms, but we must do everything that we can to achieve it.

Mr Allen: The right hon. Gentleman was a distinguished International Development Secretary in a previous incarnation. What is his view on winning the peace as well as winning the war, which clearly was not done with Mr Paul Bremer being put in to run the Iraq regime after the previous Iraq conflict? From the right hon. Gentleman’s previous experience, what are the lessons of that and how will we engage people so that they can have a settled political settlement once all the fighting and death is over?

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The hon. Gentleman pre-empts a point that I will come on to later.

My second point is that Britain’s involvement must be in training, arming and giving strategic support and planning. Many have already suggested that links with the Free Syrian Army, the Kurds and the Iraqi army need to be enhanced, but this is an area in which the British military excel. We need to ensure that we do everything that we can to help train, arm and provide strategic support and planning. Those are issues at which Britain is undoubtedly one of the best in the world.

My third point is that the humanitarian protection of civilians is absolutely essential. I remember during the Libyan campaign, when I had the honour of sitting on the National Security Council, the personal attention that the then Defence Secretary took to ensure that targeting was of such quality and standard that civilian casualties were absolutely minimised. There would be nothing worse than the damage that will be caused by an air campaign if huge numbers of innocent civilians are attacked, as they have been in other campaigns but as they were not in Libya. Libya was successful in that respect at least. We must ensure precise targeting and the protection of civilians. We must give absolute priority to that and must ensure that protecting those who are at grave risk in this conflict is right at the top of the list.

My fourth point, which brings me directly to the point of the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen), is that anyone who thinks that this crisis will be solved by smart weapons from 12,000 feet is completely and totally wrong, which is pretty widely accepted, at least in the House. It is absolutely critical that there is a plan for when the crisis is over and that the plan is enunciated now, because we need to ensure that we split off the hardliners, those who are intent on military action and advancing their cause through weaponry and ordnance, from those who are biddable and who may be brought back into more sensible dialogue and international comity.

Alok Sharma: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

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Mr Andrew Mitchell: I am afraid that I cannot.

We must ensure that people know that there is a plan that will provide a better life for their children and grandchildren when the crisis is all over. That means focusing on governance. As has already been said, the brilliant quote from Ban Ki-moon absolutely sums it up. We must focus on local governance and accountability, on providing some sort of basic services, on tackling the extremes of destitution and poverty that fuel such conflicts and on bad governance and unfairness. We must show people that life will be better once the conflict is over and that we are part of the grouping that is insistent on ensuring that they have that better life.

This is not just something that we see in Iraq and, indeed, in Syria. All across this part of the world, including north Nigeria, Mali, Somalia and Libya, the effects of bad governance and alienation from those who govern—the deep, systemic poverty with no hope or opportunity, no economic activity, and conflict being endemic in the lives of everyone everyday, especially women and children, who are the most vulnerable is such circumstances—are the things that we, the international community, need to make clear will be addressed when the conflict is over. It is not just about smart weaponry; it is about smart policies—soft power as well as hard power—which are absolutely essential to the solution.

1.5 pm

George Galloway (Bradford West) (Respect): Mr Speaker, time does not permit me to tell you how many millions of times “I told you so” is currently being said in the country—or will be once people read of this debate. Millions of ordinary people knew what the expensive talent governing our country did not know, namely that there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq and that there was no Islamist fundamentalism in Iraq before Mr Blair—and his mouthpieces who are still here—and Mr Bush invaded and occupied the country. What a tangled web we have woven is abundantly clear to everyone watching this debate. The mission creep has not even waited for the end of the debate. The words on the motion are about bombing Iraq, but there is a consensus in here that we will soon be bombing Syria. The words do not mention boots on the ground, but there is a consensus here that there will be boots on the ground, the only question being whose boots they will be.

The debate has been characterised by Members of Parliament moving around imaginary armies. The Free Syrian Army is a fiction that has been in the receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of tonnes of weapons, virtually all of which were taken from them by al-Qaeda, which has now mutated into ISIL. The Iraqi army is the most expensively trained and most modernly equipped army in history. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on the Iraqi army, which ran away leaving its equipment behind. ISIL itself is an imaginary army. A former Defence Secretary no less said that we must bomb its bases. It does not have any bases. The territory that its personnel control is the size of Britain and yet there are only between 10,000 and 20,000 of them. Do the maths. They do not concentrate as an army. They do not live in bases. The only way that a force of that size could successfully hold the territory that it holds is if the population acts as the water in which it swims. The population is quiescent because of western policies and western invasion and occupation.

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That is the truth of the matter. ISIL could not survive for five minutes if the tribes in the west of Iraq rose up against it.

Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab): Does the hon. Gentleman understand how appalled people will be to hear him say that women who have been buried alive or enslaved have been quiescent in their persecution by these people? What a total disgrace.

George Galloway: They don’t like it up them, Mr Speaker. They would rather have an imaginary debate, moving around imaginary armies. ISIL is a death cult. It is a gang of terrorist murderers. It is not an army and is certainly not an army that will be destroyed by aerial bombardment. ISIL is able to rule the parts of Iraq that it does because nobody in those parts has any confidence in the Government in Baghdad, a sectarian Government helped into power by Bremer and the deliberate sectarianisation of Iraqi politics by the occupation authorities. The Government know that. That was why they pushed al-Maliki out—even though he won the election, by the way, if we are talking about democracy. They pushed him out because they knew that far too many people in ISIL-occupied Iraq had no confidence in the Baghdad Government. Nobody has any confidence in the army emanating out of Baghdad.

This will not be solved by bombing. We have been bombing Iraqis for 100 years. We dropped the world’s first chemical bombs on them in the 1920s. We attacked them and helped to kill their King in the 1930s. We helped in the murder of their President in 1963, helping the Ba’ath party into power. We bombed them again through the 1990s.

Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) (Lab): I am sure we are all ever so grateful for the lecture, but what is the hon. Gentleman’s solution to this problem?

George Galloway: Now that I have an extra minute, thanks to the hon. Lady, I will be able to tell her.

This will not be solved by bombing; every matter will be made worse. Extremism will spread further and deeper around the world, just as happened as a result of the last Iraq war. The people outside can see it, but the fools in here, who draw a big salary and big expenses, cannot or will not see it, like the hon. Lady with her asinine intervention.

Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con): I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for giving way, but will he please bring us towards his solution to this problem?

George Galloway: In five minutes it is difficult, but we have to strengthen those who are already fighting ISIL. We have to give them all the weapons they need—the Baghdad Government have paid for weapons that have still not been delivered. We have to strengthen the Kurdish fighters, who are doing a good job of fighting ISIL.

The Saudi, Emirati and Qatari armies are all imaginary armies. They have not even told their own people that they are on the masthead. Has anyone here seen a picture of them fighting in Syria? Anyone seen a picture of a Saudi jet bombing in Syria? Saudi Arabia is the

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nest from which ISIL and these other vipers have come, and by the way, it does a fine line in head chopping itself. Saudi Arabia has 700 warplanes—get them to bomb. Turkey is a NATO member—get Turkey to bomb. The last people who should be returning to the scene of their former crimes are Britain, France and the United States of America.

1.12 pm

Mr Adam Holloway (Gravesham) (Con): I believe that when Members think of ISIS, they think of a foreign fighter, dressed in black, holding before him a terrified offering dressed in orange—a kind of spectre or ghost, screaming at us out of cyberspace. Last week I was in Iraq with my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng), and an Iraqi said to me, “You’ve got to see ISIS in Iraq like this: it’s the good, the bad and the ugly.” The good are the Sunni tribesmen, rising up against the sectarian Government in Baghdad, the bad are the foreign jihadists, and the ugly are the former Ba’athist regime people whom my regiment fought in the first Gulf war. Who will kick out the bad, the jihadists? The only people on the ground who will be able to do that are the good and the ugly—the tribes and the Ba’athists.

Time and time again, we see that the only way to remove people like ISIS is without the consent of the local people. It is overwhelmingly a political problem, even if it is a security headache. It is not a first-order clash between the west and the Muslim world but one between neighbours. In Iraq, it is a sectarian conflict. ISIS did not take over Iraq’s second biggest city by magic or by force of arms; it took it over because the local people allowed it to. One of my friends from the war in 2003 said that for people in Mosul, there is very little difference between living under a sectarian Shi’a Government and living under ISIS. He said, “The only difference, actually, is that ISIS won’t let you smoke.” That might be overdoing it somewhat, but we have had only the most limited reports of Sunni resistance from inside the great swathe of territory that ISIS controls.

None of that excuses the extraordinary cruelty of ISIS, but before we even think about anything beyond emergency air strikes in Iraq and escalation into Syria, ought we not to stop and work out what needs to be done politically and how we might take the political ground back from ISIS? At Sandhurst, they taught us that military force is exercised to support political ends, and that politics should dictate the terms of military engagement. As we have heard, John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has worked hard to put together a coalition, but if we tried to make up the worst way to start the campaign, it would be with headlines around the world, including the Muslim world, referring to “US-led air strikes”.

Mr David Ward (Bradford East) (LD): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Holloway: I would love to.

Mr Ward: What the hon. Gentleman seems to be forgetting is that we have been invited and requested by a democratically elected Government to help to deal with a mess that many people, including me, believe we

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created. What should we do when they ask for that help—should we say, “We created that mess, but we are having nothing else to do with it. It is none of our business”?

Mr Holloway: A first step for the hon. Gentleman might be to join the Territorial Army and, in a year’s time, volunteer to serve in the region. Arab countries should be at the forefront of the fight, and we should think about how to help Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis gain security and a fairer deal, so that they eject ISIS themselves.

By not yet diving in completely, the western capitals have shown that they have learned something from the absolute disasters of Iraq and the NATO deployment to Afghanistan, and from our chaotic and inconsistent response to the Arab spring. However, we must ask ourselves what we are doing when the US Secretary of State seems to be chairing the effort.

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): I share the hon. Gentleman’s feeling that bombing can work only if there is a plan for what comes next, but I am not hearing from him what that should be. I am probably not the only Member in the Chamber who is not certain about how they will vote because they are not hearing enough about what happens next. I would like him to tell us what he thinks should happen.

Mr Holloway: That is a fair observation. There is no simple solution to any of this, but the answer will not come from something military that is led by the west. It will come from something political that is led by people within the region.

There is a huge amount that we can do, but it should mostly involve encouraging and enabling other people. It should not be a rerun of Iraq in 1991, when, although there was a grand coalition of Arab states, it was still led by the United States, or of 2003. If we are to win, the lead should come from within the region and should include a long-term political vision. Otherwise, step by small step, we will enter a much darker age of war and radicalisation.

Mr Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr Holloway: No.

If the west fails to morph into the background, away from the military lead, I am afraid our vote today will drive our nation towards disaster.

1.19 pm

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab): This is not the first time that I have disagreed with the hon. Member for Bradford West (George Galloway). In fact, I can remember the last Speaker, before the hon. Gentleman was the Member for Bradford West, asking him to leave the Chamber because he had misbehaved. The microphones here are quite good, and Members do not need to shout to make themselves heard if others are listening. I say to the hon. Gentleman that he is wrong now as he was then. Al-Qaeda was in Iraq before 2003; it operated under the name Ansar al-Islam. It was the Kurds who told me about Ansar al-Islam at that time. They showed

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me the heads of those who had been beheaded by that very same group. It is not true that al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before 2003.

I remind the House that the hon. Member for Bradford West was the man who greeted Saddam Hussein as a great friend and leader of his people and shook his hand in Iraq. I do not think the Kurds or the Shi’a would have been very pleased with that, given that Saddam Hussein exterminated hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shi’a. If anyone doubts that, I suggest that they go to the mass graves in al-Hillah and all over Iraq.

I fully support the resolution, but I do not think it goes far enough. I have listened with interest to what the Americans have been saying in the past few days. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, and other senior US military figures have said that air power alone cannot defeat ISIS.

Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, is a case in point. Yes, the Iraqi military fled, but I believe that there is an alternative story to that—they fled only because they were ordered to by those who were then in control of the military in Iraq.

Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): Last week, I met 120 representatives of the Mancunian Iraqi diaspora from Mosul, whose families live in tents in exile in foreign lands. They just want their families to be able to go back, build civil society and live in peace. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is in our self-interest to help them do that?

Ann Clwyd: Absolutely. Air strikes have obviously not been able to recapture Mosul. Four months on, Mosul is still in the hands of ISIS. Some 2 million people live in Mosul, although many, as my hon. Friend said, have fled. Another problem, of course, is the number of refugees who have gone across borders—into Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey.

Mr Stuart: The question that sits in the air following the contributions of the two speakers before the right hon. Lady is about who is going to defeat ISIS. My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr Holloway) was suggesting that it had to be done internally, by the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria, or there would be the question of the regional ownership of the military force driving ISIS out. Who is going to provide that effective force? We could be bombing for 10 years with little to show for it.

Ann Clwyd: Of course there is a problem; nobody would dispute that. The Iraqi army, apparently, are not ready or properly trained for such action. We cannot depend on the peshmerga—a small group of soldiers who have been defending their own homeland and cannot possibly be responsible for defending the whole of Iraq. That is just pie in the sky. The question of what we will do if the air strikes are not successful will continue to challenge us.

The issue of refugees has also been raised. Some countries have been much more ready to take refugees than this one. More than 3 million people who have fled Syria over the past three years have been sheltered by a small number of neighbouring countries. In the past week, more than 100,000 additional such refugees are

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said to have crossed Turkey’s border, fearing the advance of ISIS. Although we have made some kind of offer, I understand that only 75 Syrian individuals have arrived in the UK since January this year. In comparison, Germany has pledged to resettle 20,000 Syrians. Resettling several hundred over three years does not respond adequately to the clear need. We also have to see what we are going to do in Syria; I am sure that there will be another debate in the House of Commons on that issue.

It is not true that nobody asked us to go into Iraq. In 2003, the Kurds invited us to help them; I remember saying so in this Chamber just a few weeks after I came back from Kurdistan. That is another myth that I want to dispel. The new Iraqi Government deserve our full support. Al-Maliki, of course, alienated so many of the very Sunnis who we hope will fight to defend Iraq. They have to be won back. We can depend on the Kurds, although there are disputes between them and the Iraqi central Government that will have to be resolved in some way. I fully support the resolution, which is a good step in the right direction.

1.26 pm

Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire) (Con): As we get through the debate, we start to say a number of similar things. Before I say the three things that I wanted to say, two things are pertinent. First, most of us approach this debate with a sense of humility bearing in mind the history of Iraq and what has happened there. Secondly, as recent speeches have shown, there are layers of complexity; we should approach simplistic answers with even greater trepidation.

I want to make three brief points. First, in support of the motion I should say that the particular nature of so-called ISIL has become clear in recent months. We have to be careful about the names we use. The Islamic world is deeply upset at the identification of this terrorist, criminal group with the words “Islamic State”—they are neither Islamic nor a state. In some parts of the region, they have started to be called “Daesh”, a derogatory term. We must be sensitive to the issue—the group are not Islamic and not a state.

The particular nature of the group has become clear. Their wickedness is demonstrated in the fact that they want to occupy not just territory, but minds, and they want to seize not just land, but people. The barbarity of the executions is matched by the barbarity of how they seduce and corrupt the people they bring from different parts of the world to follow their lies. We now know the nature of the group, and that is why the motion is set as it is.

In support of the Government’s motion, I should say that had we been discussing something different today, the tone would have been rather different. Although I absolutely agree with others that we are going to revisit the issue, having the motion as it is, allowing us to proceed step by step, might be wise.

This is a long struggle. To an extent, I am reassured by the fact that a coalition of 60 is now dealing with the issue, but I remind the House that for the past three years there has been a coalition of more than 100 states and different entities called the Friends of Syria. That has achieved none of its objectives; Syria has rather dropped off the map recently, until now.

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Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): I thank my right hon. Friend personally for all the work he did in the region while he was Minister. The situation is very difficult, but we have to target ISIL, who are bringing the middle east back to the dark ages. There are no two ways about it. Their brutality, as my right hon. Friend has been saying, is second to none. The idea that we should do nothing would be absolutely wrong. I entirely support the motion.

Alistair Burt: I entirely agree. ISIL’s barbarity is what has brought us here today, as well as the recognition that something longer-term is needed beyond force.

That brings me to my second point. In the past few weeks, I have travelled to both Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. None of us should underestimate the importance of those Islamic states’ having joined against this terrorist criminal group. That is a big thing. As the hon. Member for Bradford West (George Galloway) observed, none of it is simple. The fact that some, in the past, supported what became this terrorist group because they felt that they were standing up against Sunni oppression was a very big thing, and the fact that states and theological leaders are now denouncing it marks a profound shift in opinion. It is a big thing to be able to attack those who are attacking one’s enemies. That shift has been profoundly important, and none of us here should minimise it.

Relationships in the area are complex. Not all Islamist groups are enemy groups. Some leaders in some states go easy on some groups, but are now beginning to make a clear distinction, recognising that groups which label themselves in a particular way, professing to stand up for Sunnis who are being oppressed, are not always what they seem. That is a profound change, which—as my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr Holloway) said earlier—enables this alliance to be led not by the west, but by the thought leaders of the middle east. It marks a turning point in the way in which this matter should be handled in the future.

Jack Dromey: The right hon. Gentleman is making a typically thoughtful speech. It would be unthinkable to stand back and repeat the mistakes of history—the slaughters of Srebrenica and Rwanda, for instance, through barbarism—but the right hon. Gentleman is right to point out that it would also be unthinkable to fail to learn the lessons of history. Evil thrives on a sense of grievance.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, on the one hand, it is of the highest importance for us to work with and support progressive elements in the Muslim community nationally and internationally and resist the demonisation of the Muslim community, and that, on the other hand, a regional political settlement must include a two-state solution?

Alistair Burt: I shall not respond to the hon. Gentleman’s second point. There is an issue relating to the settling of wider grievances, and that is one of the layers of the complexity to which I referred earlier. However, his first point was absolutely right. The unequivocal response of the Islamic community in the United Kingdom to what we have seen in recent months has also been one of the most profound developments. As the hon. Gentleman said, there should be no demonisation of the Muslim

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community in the United Kingdom, because its response has been very dramatic and very strong, and must be used to bring to the young people who have been corrupted by this false ideology a sense that their Muslim faith should take them in a different direction.

The last point that I want to make concerns Syria. I entirely agree with colleagues who have raised it as the issue that might have been discussed today. We know that it is there, because there are no borders between Iraq and Syria, and indeed there are no borders when it comes to dealing with the issue, which will be dealt with in Syria sooner or later. However, there are some misunderstandings about how the situation in Syria has arisen, and about the relationship between President Assad and the extremists.

President Assad’s fight is with his people who rose up against him, who are represented by those who supported the protesters, and who have been recognised by more than 100 states, the Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army. The enemies of those people are not just Assad, but the terrorist criminal forces that have come in. Assad has been in league with those forces, because his greatest fear is his people, not the extremists. Had we taken action against Assad last year, that action would have demonstrated that the rest of the world was prepared to stand up against him, and—as he realised—would have provided an opportunity to bring him to negotiations.

Assad will not negotiate for the peace of Syria until he is forced to do so, which is why we should seek to support those who have been fighting the terrorists and criminals on the ground. That means the peshmerga and the Iraqi army—although the vulnerabilities of the Iraqi army are well known, and they cannot be relied on for some time to come—but it also means the Free Syrian army, which exists and is not a fiction. It has fought both Assad and the terrorists for the past year in Aleppo, and it should be supported. We now know that we cannot do the ground work, which must be taken on by people in the region, so we should support those who are doing it. The United States has moved from covert to overt support, and we should be trying to do the same.

If there is to be an overall settlement, underlying grievances will need to be tackled, but the key to such a settlement is an end to intolerance in the region, notably religious intolerance between sects and against the Christian community. Intolerance runs through the region as if though a stick of rock, and the damage that it does is now being seen in the intolerance of the terrorist and the criminal.

1.34 pm

Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): It is a great pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt). His speech reminded me that, in my view, the Foreign Office is a worse place for his not being there.

I want to pick up a few strands that have been developing in the debate. The hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr Holloway) described the way in which the bad and the good were trying to get rid of the ugly, but left unanswered the question of what we should do if they asked for outside help to get rid of the ugly. Whether or not we like the fact that this action is seen as being

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United States-led, a democratically elected state is asking for our help, and I think that we are duty bound to give that help.

Mr Sheerman: I always listen with rapt attention to my hon. Friend’s views on international affairs. As one who has sat here listening to all her speeches, may I ask for her guidance on how we are to get out of this once we are in? What is the long-term gain?

Ms Stuart: That is a fair point, which I shall try to address. It brings me back to what was said by both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in their opening speeches.

First, I am very glad that on this occasion we have the clearly outlined strategy that we did not have a year ago, and that is why I feel comfortable about voting for the motion. Secondly, I am reminded of Ban Ki-moon’s observation that, while missiles kill terrorists, it is good governance that kills terrorism. The long-term answer will be the good governance of functioning nation states, and we must therefore ensure that the nation states that are currently functioning in the region—Jordan, Turkey, and Iran—do not fall apart or become compromised. We must also ensure that the fragmentation that is a risk for states such as Iraq—and, to some extent, Jordan, if we are not careful—is not allowed to happen, because it would not be in our interests. Frederick the Great said that one cannot ride on horseback against ideas. It is not a newly discovered wisdom that ideas cannot be fought with arms, but we seem to forget it at regular intervals, and every generation seems to need to be reminded of it.

Why is military action required now? I think that it is required as a starting point. A myth is developing that ISIS is undefeatable, that it will spread, and that it cannot be contained. The first step must be to show that it can be contained, and that those who want to fight it will be given support.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): The point that the hon. Lady is making is very valid at the present time. The air attacks by the United States Government and other forces have already produced some dividends, in that ISIS has slowed its advance. Surely, if we join that campaign now, we will help the process to continue, and, with the armies on the ground, will be able to return Christians and ethnic groups to the areas where they want to live.

Ms Stuart: Yes, indeed; and the armies on the ground will not be our armies. That is also very important. We must enable those nation states to function properly, and those armies to function properly. The solution—which, essentially, is a fall-out from the post-Ottoman settlement—will only be found within the region, but we have a responsibility within that region. Whether we like it or not, we are no longer the great power that can underwrite any of the settlements or bring about any of the changes; we shall have to do that with others. I have just seen on the news that Denmark is to send in seven F-16s, so the coalition of support is widening.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) asked why we were not talking about Syria. I think that the fact that the debate is framed so narrowly is due to lessons that I hope we

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have learnt from last year. Those who come to the House and cannot explain themselves in a way that will take the House with them must be far more cautious in future. We will return to this subject. It is not a given, but I think that we can bring the parties together at this stage, and can be part of an international coalition.

It is incredibly foolish to think that just because we are not going into Syria, nothing will happen in Syria—to think that we are the only actor that will bring about change. The fundamental lesson for the House today must be that the functioning nation states in that region will have to deal with the terrorists, and that we shall have to assist and take a lead from them. That means that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Iran must take a responsible position as well. I hope that we shall hear a little more about Turkey, and the effects in Kurdistan, during the winding-up speeches.

Mr Andrew Turner: There is a real problem here. Who will have the strength and determination today, tomorrow, next year and the year after to be on the ground in Iraq? So far, no one has said who it will be. Whose boots will be on the ground in Iraq?

Ms Stuart: In fairness to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, they did say that there would have to be the establishment of a functioning Iraqi army. We know that air strikes on their own are not sufficient; we learned that in Libya. Just going in and getting rid of a head of state is not the answer; it is simply the beginning of an answer. That is why it is important for this House not to lose the determination and the will to pursue and enable.

As I was saying, I hope that Front-Bench Members will come back and say a bit more about Turkey, what it means to arm the Kurds, and what effect that may have on the Turkish Government. Furthermore, perhaps they can set out their thoughts on a UN resolution. Those who think it unlikely that we will get another UN resolution should be reminded that we should try our damnedest to get one, because it is only then that we will have the moral authority to consider different options.

1.41 pm

Sir Alan Duncan (Rutland and Melton) (Con): I support the Prime Minister and this motion today and welcome the support of the official Opposition. As someone who has focused on the middle east for more than 30 years, I was intending to urge the House to be particularly cautious and sober in approaching this decision today, but it is quite clear that that is exactly the mood of the House and this debate. That caution is necessary, because we are about to embark on something that is unlike anything we have seen before. In my mind, it shows every sign of being neither easy nor conclusive.

When the Falklands were invaded, force was obviously justified. When Kuwait was invaded, we were right to work with others to repel the aggressor. In each case, we knew instinctively what the objective was, and we absolutely knew when we had attained it. But this is different. We are justified in deploying our armed forces both to fight vicious extremists and to support Iraq’s request for help, but the clear strategic objective in doing so and the manner in which we will use our weapons are much more difficult to shape than in the past.

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Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): I want to take up my right hon. Friend’s exact point. Does the lack of strategic objective not manifest itself in one particular way? We have heard that this could go on for some time, but we have not heard a criterion for stopping, let alone a criterion for what we are going to achieve.

Sir Alan Duncan: My whole point is that we have to live with that uncertainty, because we are living in an age that lacks the clarity of the past, but that does not mean that we do nothing. We will be acting in a region the turmoil and disruption of which are more difficult to comprehend than anything we have ever seen, and that means—and this is exactly my answer to my right hon. Friend—that the path ahead is far from obvious. Personally, I have been in favour of the UK taking action only if it is part of a co-ordinated international effort. We now have that, and it is reassuring to be alongside Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and of course the United States and France. Again I say that none of this will be straightforward. Wisdom is not weakness, particularly in the middle east. In the complicated melee of today’s middle east, we would be wise to appreciate that we are confronting a new threat in a new way, and therefore we should calibrate our expectations accordingly.

In passing, I must say that I am a little uncomfortable with the language of some people—essentially outside this House—who seem to see this decision as a test of the United Kingdom’s virility. That is no way to look at this issue, and it harks back to an age and a mentality that simply do not suit the world of today. The country needs to know why we are doing this. The justification for our involvement is best expressed in terms of what it will do to improve Iraq, its people and the region itself and less well expressed by saying that it is mainly because terrorists directly threaten us here in the UK. That threat exists anyway, and it will not be eliminated even if ISIL is forced into submission.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) said, we must also be realistic about how little we really know. The rise of ISIL has taken us all by surprise, and knowing in detail and with confidence who they are and what exactly is happening on the ground will not be easy. Our well of understanding about the region has run rather dry. If I might say so, this House would do better not to be so quick to mock the hon. Member for Bradford West (George Galloway).

Mr MacNeil: The right hon. Gentleman is making a good speech. Is he uneasy about the way in which the gates are being opened in this motion? The motion could open up the possibility of the UK bombing in Iraq for up to the next 10 years, because it is open-ended.

Sir Alan Duncan: Let me answer the hon. Gentleman this way, because it really is my main point. We are looking at not one country invading another or a national army marching across the border, but a conflict without borders and the advance of non-state actors who have no national identity, no seat in the UN and no coherent political structure. The threat is not from a rogue state or a vicious dictator, but from a poisonous, viral movement that is cutting a swathe of grisly barbarity across the region from Syria to Iraq. That enemy can morph into

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al-Qaeda one day, disappear into the crowd and come back again the next. We can resolve to beat it, but it is not the same as fighting a country.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) sensibly asked, what can we target? What can we hit? How can we be sure that we are bombing in the right way? Can we perhaps disable infrastructure rather than destroy it, and how will we continue to be effective from the air should ISIL forces move into a dense urban settlement? For all those reasons, we must expect to give our Prime Minister flexibility and discretion, without us descending into political recriminations. He must be allowed to adapt and amend our actions to suit the unfolding acts on the ground and in my opinion—this is a view that has been expressed by my right hon. Friends the Members for Croydon South (Sir Richard Ottaway), and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member and for North Somerset (Dr Fox) for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke),—that should not exclude spreading air attacks into the deserts of Syria.

In conclusion, taking on ISIL is not just about bombs. It requires comprehensive confrontation—diplomatic, social, religious, cultural, educational and financial and through the media and the use of intelligence—and ISIL must be beaten on all fronts. This may go on for years; it might not. Today, we should be prepared to start our action, but, equally, should it ever become too impractical or inappropriate to fight from the air, then we should also, without shame, stain or blame, be prepared to stop it.

1.49 pm

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): The one thing that is certain is that no one in this House or anywhere else can be certain that the policies we are being asked to endorse will succeed. If we look at the track record of the interventions of the French, British and Americans in the middle east since the collapse of the Ottoman empire, we see that the odds look as though we will not succeed, because everything else has gone wrong. And yet I find that I am probably going to vote for the motion tonight. This is my argument for doing so.

The situation that we face is different from previous ones. Clearly, what has happened is a threat to international peace and security, and therefore entitles the world powers and the Government of Iraq to invite support to try to protect them against their invaders. It may not be an invading army, but it is certainly an invasion that Iraq has suffered, and Iraq is entitled to call upon the rest of us. And it is faced with a genocidal outfit. Genocide consists of killing people because of who they are, and that is exactly what ISIS is doing.

In any war, some prisoners will be murdered; in many wars, some women will be raped. It is usually the product of indiscipline. In the case of ISIS, it is part of its military strategy to terrorise people, and it is organised: organised murder, organised abduction of women and organised rape of Muslim women. That is not western propaganda, which is its usual excuse; it is parading proudly what it is doing. It is showing on social media the murder of prisoners, the carting off and abduction of women.

Mr Sheerman: I agree with everything that my right hon. Friend has said, but does he agree that when we

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use drone missiles and attack from the air, that is not—it cannot be—precision, and when we get into this, if we start killing children, and schools and hospitals are drawn in, public support will go away very quickly?

Frank Dobson: That may be true, but it must be said that without the American intervention from the air, the chances are that ISIS would now be in control of Baghdad. They had to be stopped militarily and one function of the air attacks is to deprive them of their use of heavy weaponry, to give those who are opposed to them a better chance of defeating them. It is necessary, therefore, it seems to me, to provide an opportunity for the ground forces to get their act together and take them on, and if what we are doing can weaken their opponents during that time, that is all the better.

The effort that everyone agrees is necessary—to encourage political activity, to effect political reconciliation, to bring people together, to unite the people of Iraq against their common enemy—can be successful only if we help the Iraqis to keep the common enemy at bay until they have got themselves sorted out. That is why, on balance, I shall support the motion.

Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con): The point that the right hon. Gentleman rightly made about the brutality of ISIS, especially towards women, could apply equally to other organisations, such as Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. Does he agree that that determination to support the moderates against the extremists and to use all our soft power needs to be looked at far more widely than the middle east alone?

Frank Dobson: It is certainly true that part of our tradition—which we sometimes fall short of, and have done in the past—is to promote decency and democracy worldwide. We have an obligation to help all those countries who are trying to maintain democracy or to establish it in the face of extremism. But in this case there was not just the possibility but the likelihood that Iraq as a sovereign state would disappear, and unless we keep up the pressure, there is still a possibility of its disappearing.

However, I am concerned about the ease with which, when some people talk, they slip seamlessly from Iraq to Syria. In Iraq, there are two existing groups fighting on the same side against ISIS. They hope to get further military support on the ground to help them. That is fairly straightforward. But when people talk about getting involved in Syria, they are talking about sending young people from our country to a place where they will not have the faintest idea who they are supposed to be fighting, and people who they might have been allied with this week become enemies next week, or this week’s enemies become allies next week. We owe it to our people, if we are going to send them abroad on our behalf and risk their lives, to try to ensure that they are faced with a fairly straightforward function in war. War is nasty and complex enough as it is without pushing them into somewhere like Syria.

When I first entered the House, they used to talk about senior figures. People talk about senior figures now, but when I first entered the House “senior figures” included Denis Healey and one or two others. They had a bit of a down on sending young people to war, and that was because they had been sent. We should always

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remember to be very, very careful about sending anybody else’s children to fight for us, particularly if we try to send them in a cause that is not clear, and against an enemy that cannot be easily identified.

1.56 pm

Sir Nick Harvey (North Devon) (LD): Having opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, with my party colleagues, I have deliberated uncomfortably and cautiously for the past few weeks on the issues about which we must decide today, but I have been persuaded of both the justification and the need for action of the sort that we are asked to approve today. Many Members have spoken about the humanitarian atrocities that are being perpetrated by ISIS. Surely to goodness we must learn from the mistakes of Srebrenica and Rwanda and not make the mistake of simply allowing them to happen.

Heather Wheeler (South Derbyshire) (Con): There is a gentleman living in my constituency who is part of the Yazidi group. I was appalled by the paperwork and photographs he showed me of the atrocities that are going on. We must all support the motion; it is absolutely a just motion.

Sir Nick Harvey: I very much hope that all Members across the House would agree with that, whatever their take on the military issues to be discussed.

However, beyond the humanitarian catastrophe there is the strategic threat, which will grow given that, as we have heard, ISIS already controls an area bigger than Britain and has the stated objective and ambition to make that bigger and bigger. We have seen from al-Qaeda in Afghanistan what will happen if terrorist organisations with international ambitions are allowed such freedom of manoeuvre. ISIS has manpower; it has got hold of some very sophisticated equipment; it has a flow of money. It is quite a formidable enemy for the Iraqi army and the Kurdish forces. That is why Iraq is looking outside its borders for external help.

Yes, it would be better, as the hon. Member for Bradford West (George Galloway) said, if the clear lead were given by some of the regional neighbours and by Muslim states. We are very grateful, I hope, for the efforts that are being made by some of the neighbours, but the moral responsibility falls on countries such as the United Kingdom, because we are one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and as we have a substantial Muslim population ourselves, we have more than most to fear from the growth of ISIS if it were allowed to go unchecked. So there is a just cause; there is a clear legal case; there is a plausible objective to degrade ISIS and enable the Iraqi and Kurdish fighters to recover the terrain that they have lost; and there is a strategy that we shall use our air power to soften up the enemy and allow the ground forces to recover that terrain—we are not going to deploy our own forces, but we will help them to do that.

“Can it work?” Members are asking. There are no guarantees, but it could. If there is a detailed plan, then, bluntly, I do not know what it is, but on a need-to-know basis I do not need to know. We do not know how long it will take, what it will cost, or what, short of outright triumph, is our exit strategy. I was impressed by the fact that the Prime Minister was very realistic about the limitations of what air power can do and what military

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power can do. The military effort has to be accompanied by a humanitarian aid effort, by diplomatic efforts, and by efforts to find a political solution. As many have rightly said, we do not find a political solution to a complex situation on the ground from 20,000 feet above it.

I also welcome the fact that the Prime Minister was appropriately modest about the contribution that the UK is proposing to make. Of course, we will be supplying forces who are highly skilled and very courageous, who will go with the good will of all of us, and who will be using very sophisticated equipment. However, there is absolutely no place for hubris on the part of the United Kingdom about the scale of the overall effort that we are going to make.

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): Is the United Kingdom not already making a very substantial military contribution in the form of our intelligence-gathering assets, and through Rivet Joint and the Tornado and its Litening missile?

Sir Nick Harvey: My hon. Friend makes an important point. The value that we can add to the international effort through our aerial reconnaissance and our intelligence-gathering is probably of more significance than what we are to contribute in outright firepower. The hon. Member for Bradford West made a point worth reflecting on: although ISIS is controlling an area as large as Britain, it will not marshal itself neatly into conventional military bases that render themselves obvious targets. The quality of the intelligence and surveillance will therefore be absolutely crucial to the outcome of this effort.

Broadly speaking, there is a just cause, and there is a plausible strategy and a need for us to contribute to it. In listening to how this debate has unfolded, my greatest misgiving relates to Syria. Many Members have observed that harrying and hassling ISIS in Iraq is pointless if it can simply flee over the border into Syria, and in purely military terms, I see what they mean. However, the strategy that has been laid before us of our air support working in tandem with a credible organised ground force would not apply in Syria, where the situation on the ground is chaos and carnage. There is no credible ground force at this stage with whom we can ally. Although we may have common cause, to some extent, with Russia, with Assad and with Iran over the desirability of degrading ISIS, they have very different views from us as to what they want to emerge on the ground as the lasting solution in Syria, and we would need to be aware of the dangers that that would pose.

Apart from anything else, there is no appetite in the United Kingdom for our getting involved in an ongoing operation, lasting very many years on the ground and trying to instil a new order, and that is the likely outcome if we get involved in Syria. General Dannatt once said, “If you go around kicking down the door, you create a moral imperative to stay around and help clear up afterwards.” We are rightly fed up with the amount of work we have had to do on that in Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria is a very different situation from Iraq, and we would end up doing the same there if we did not watch it.

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2.4 pm

Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab): My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) is completely right to warn us about the gravity of this decision. The question of sending British troops to take military action is the most serious we will ever be asked to answer. However, we are faced with a brutal and murderous organisation that has kidnapped and beheaded victims, including a British aid worker; that has carried out genocide, enslaved women, buried others alive and crucified, executed and butchered Christians, Yazidis and Muslims—in fact, anybody who does not share its warped and perverted view of Islam; and that presents a huge threat to the rest of the region. Given that, and with an international coalition having been built in the region, it is right to confront ISIL.

I would like to ask, as did my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden), why we are being asked to approve air strikes in Iraq but not in Syria; why we welcomed and supported the American bombardment of ISIL targets in Syria this week but said that British action should be limited to Iraq; and why, if we think that the American action was legal, action by Britain would not be. What is the difference between taking action against ISIL on one side of the border and taking it on the other—even though, as we have heard, the border does not actually exist? Are we saying that we would take action against terrorists responsible for beheading a British citizen on one side of the border but would not target them if they scuttled a few yards across into Syria?

As I understand it, we are prepared to take action in Iraq because the Government there have asked us to do so. Does that mean that we would be prepared to take action against ISIL terrorists in Syria if the murderous dictator Assad asked us to do it there? We must avoid giving anybody the impression that he has a veto over any action that we might take. It is also important that we avoid giving any impression that Putin, who has annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine, and who incarcerates his critics at home and murders them abroad, has a veto over any sort of western action.

I believe that we should have acted sooner to support those among the rebels who want democracy and human rights—that is, when the revolution against Assad started. The tragedy is that the democrats who looked to us for support have been slaughtered. They were starved of the resources, weapons and support they needed. They were killed on one side by Assad, supported by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, and by extremists on the other, supported by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. As a result, the only people not involved in Syria have been those of the western democracies.

Of course, as we have heard, there are consequences to taking action, but there are also grave consequences to not taking action. In Syria, the west’s failure has created the vacuum in which the ISIL terrorists have been allowed to become so strong. Both Assad and ISIS are stronger now than they were a year ago. The west should not just support and arm the Iraqi army and the Kurdish forces—we should be doing much more to help the pro-western, pluralist democrats among the Syrian opposition and support them in their efforts.

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2.7 pm

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): I am delighted to take part in this debate. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan) said, there are no simple solutions to this complex issue. Today’s debate illustrates the complexity that we face as legislators in having to take decisions on behalf of the British people. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a very compelling case. It was an absolutely excellent speech and I agree with every word of it. I have tried to press on him my view that we should have taken this action sooner, but I understand why he could not do so: it is because he was not prepared to bring before the House a motion on which he was not certain of securing a result. I do not blame him for that caution.

The Prime Minister posed the question, “Where is the British national interest?” We need to be satisfied that the British national interest is met by the strategy that he set out. I believe that the answer is crystal clear and that it is in the British national interest that we should support this motion. All the leaders around the world have declared that these IS, ISIL, ISIS people are beyond the pale and are a major threat not just to the middle east but to us here at home. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey) said, they have already overrun a large part of Iraq. They have threatened to overrun the whole of that country, resorting to their barbaric methods in so doing—methods that we have ruled out and most countries abandoned centuries ago. We have seen, and our constituents have seen, the slaughter of innocent people and the way in which these barbaric people have been behaving. They have seen our own nationals and US nationals murdered as well.

It seems to me therefore that if this threat is so great, we have to address it. There are two clear issues. There is a blurred line between them, it is true, but the imperative today is that we should prevent IS from overrunning the whole of Iraq. Indeed, the objective must be to drive them out of Iraq as far as we possibly can. As the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) so eloquently said, it is not a question of making an act of faith; we have seen it work. The troops on the ground have said that without the intervention of the United States’ air strikes, they would not have been able to blunt the attack of IS in northern Iraq. We know it works. It is not as though we are trying to suggest something for which we have no intimation as to what might happen.

Mr Jamie Reed (Copeland) (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman is right; this motion is squarely within the national interest. He talks about being honest with the British people and we must do that. I support this action, but does he agree that we do not know for how long we will be involved or how long it will take? We do not know in any finite term where this will end and we ought to be honest with the British people about that.

Sir Gerald Howarth: The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly fair point, but I am afraid to say that that is the case with all military action. We cannot start any military operation and say at the outset that it will take six months. At the outbreak of the first world war, which we commemorated this year, the expectation was that everyone would be home by Christmas. That turned out to be a rather false hope—tragically false. Such things go with the territory of military operations.

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Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): It has been said throughout the debate how important it is that there is the coalition of Arab states that we are supporting. I am less clear about who will be directing operations. Could the right hon. Gentleman shed some light on that?

Sir Gerald Howarth: The hon. Lady makes a very good point and if she will be patient, I intend to come on to it, as the involvement of the Arab states is one of the most significant points about this whole business.

The imperative—ridding Iraq of IS—leads to the possibility of dealing with the problem at the political level. It is imperative that we provide Haider al-Abadi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, with the space in which to deliver the resolution of the differences between the competing communities in Iraq. He cannot do that if his whole country is threatened by these barbarous people intent upon overrunning it. However, the onus is on him to deliver that political settlement.

The hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) has rightly mentioned the involvement of other countries. It is very important that we should be standing alongside our friends in the United States; they are our closest ally. We have the same concept of freedom. It is important to do that, but it is also important to be seen to be standing alongside our allies in the Arab world. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a close ally. I was reminded by Mohammed bin Zayed in the UAE that we had no excuse for not understanding the region; we have been there for 200 years. It is a fact that we have experience of the region that other countries do not have. They look to us for support. The fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is there, as is the UAE, Qatar and Jordan, is the most significant development in this whole business. As my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) said, we should not underestimate the importance of that. To an extent, our credibility is at stake.

The Leader of the Opposition said that we needed to define our role in the world. He is absolutely right. In opposition in 2009, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague)—the former Foreign Secretary—said that the UK should help to shape the world in which we find ourselves and not simply be shaped by it. This is a moment where we should assist in that process.

In assisting our friends in the Arab world, we should be encouraging them to take responsibility for what is essentially a regional problem of theirs. One of the exciting things has been to see a female UAE pilot involved. That is the ultimate insult to the IS people, I am sure. Let us salute her and her role. My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) said that perhaps the Arabs should help by putting more boots on the ground, and I think that is true.

My final point is that we will not resolve the IS problem simply by military means. I agreed with everything the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain) said; he will be horrified by that, but there we go. He said that the case for striking in Syria was quite strong, but we cannot defeat an ideology by military means alone, let alone by air strikes. That is a challenge for the Muslim world more generally. I hope that this exercise will feed into our strategic defence review, which is coming. We need a proper strategy and we need to feed the experience of this recent political development into that strategy.

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2.15 pm

Mr Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab): We are here again to discuss the issue of stability and conflict in the middle east. It appears that we have not learned the lessons of a decade ago. I made one of my first speeches in this House, soon after my maiden speech, after 9/11. It is clear that we have not taken forward those lessons to provide stability for the region over the last 14 years or so.

Instead, what we and the US—using its influence in the Gulf countries—have done is to start to pump more money and weapons into Syria, which has further destabilised that region. Money has been given to people whom we may think would be our supporters and to those whom we thought were on our side. They were, we were told, moderate. We speak about the moderate Syrian people and about the freedom fighters, but the vast majority of them are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation that the Prime Minister banned in this country. Yet we think that they will be our ally in resolving the issue in Syria.

A number of hon. Members today have said that the issue can be resolved only if we put more money and resources into the freedom fighters. Which of those freedom fighters will we support? The Muslim Brotherhood? Al Nusra? Will we support other extremist organisations that already exist? Will we support the unIslamic state in the region? I deliberately call it not ISIL, not ISIS nor IS; I call it, and Brummies predominantly tend to call it, the unIslamic state. That is what it is. It has no place in the religion of Islam of which I am a part. It has no place in any teachings of Islam. Those people who rape, murder and torture are carrying out things that are banned in Islam. They kill people because they might be Sunni; they kill people who are Shi’a, Christian, Yazidi and Kurds. They kill anybody who does not submit to their warped ideology. We have to be aware of what we are trying to do.

The previous Foreign Secretary went to Europe and said that we needed to lift the arms embargo against the Assad Government so we could supply those so-called moderate fighters. When he came back having made the great achievement of lifting the arms embargo, he sat down with the security people and they said, “Secretary of State ,who are you going to supply these weapons to?” Very soon he decided that there was no option of supplying weapons and decided that we would provide communication aid to those people. We create these types of vacuum. Senator McCain has been an advocate of a neo-Con policy in Syria, which is to make sure that we put in as much money and arms as we can. What we have not realised is that, as part of that effort over the past three years or so, we have created the vacuum that has allowed the unIslamic state to be formed in those regions, taking people from all the various extremist organisations there and making them even more extreme, more grotesque and more violent than any other organisation—

Dr Julian Lewis: I am anxious to give the hon. Gentleman an extra minute, because I want to hear what he thinks we should and should not do in the situation we face today. He is in danger of getting to the end of his speech without telling us.

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Mr Mahmood: I thank the hon. Gentleman for doing that. I am very keen to get on to the question of the situation today. I will vote later today in favour of providing support to the Iraqi Government, because they have rightly asked us to do so. I will go further: there will be a need for us to provide support on the ground in order to finish the job. The job needs to be finished off properly; if it is not—if we allow significant groupings to remain in Iraq—there will be greater problems for us to go back to resolve. In order to do that, we need not only air strikes but the surrounding Arab countries to put their money where their mouth is, by and large, and to get people on the ground to deal with the situation. The support of our people will be needed, so it is important that we do that and get the issue sorted out. To do that, we need to move on.

A huge number of Muslim academics and scholars have condemned what is happening, as have organisations such as Inspire, led by Sara Khan, which works for women—

Steve McCabe: Will it be possible to defeat these evil terrorists while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the evils that exist among some of our allies? Surely Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some of our other allies have to sort their act out, as well.

Mr Mahmood: My hon. Friend is right. Unless we play with a straight bat across the piece and condemn such actions, we will not be able to deal with the situation. It is very important that we do that.

2.22 pm

Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): It is my intention when the House divides this afternoon—if it does divide—to support the Government’s motion, but in doing so I am very mindful, having listened to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr Mahmood), my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr Holloway)—indeed, even the hon. Member for Bradford West (George Galloway), had he not treated the House as the recipient of a human foghorn—that they had some important points to make. A note of caution needs to be sounded about what we are trying to do.

The Prime Minister made a powerful case. First, he said that ISIL is a threat to this country directly. I have no doubt that he is right about that. Having spent the first six months of this year signing off consents for the prosecution of young people returning from Syria, where they had served and trained with ISIL—and, in some circumstances with clear evidence, it seemed to me, that they had participated in atrocities—I am perfectly alive to the fact that that threat is real. However, I sound this note of caution. Simply bombing ISIL—whether in Syria, or Iraq, as we are planning to do—is not going to make that threat go away. Even if we ultimately get rid of the ungoverned space, the threat will remain unless or until civil society exists within the Muslim world of a kind that provides a model of how people can co-exist peacefully. We face a challenge domestically, which we must not shirk, in persuading people that that peaceful co-existence exists here and they should not be inclined to emulate what they see in the middle east.

The second factor, and for me the most persuasive, is the genocide being perpetrated in northern Iraq and Syria. This country has a long history of international

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involvement, and although we may be able to make only a small contribution, I find it difficult to see how we should sit on our hands when a barbarous group of individuals perpetrates the kind of crimes we see daily on our screens. If we can make a contribution to dealing with that, the justification for military intervention is there.

Mr David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con): My right hon. and learned Friend is making a compelling case. Would he advise the House that the legal principle of the responsibility to protect in relation to genocide has a wider application that goes beyond the Iraqi borders into Syria?

Mr Grieve: I am grateful to my hon. Friend—that is precisely the point to which I was about to come.

I have not the slightest doubt that the legal framework exists to take action in support of the Iraqi Government, at their request, to deal with ISIL. I am clear that the legal base is present for that, and the House should not be concerned on that issue. Equally, so far as action in Syria is concerned, should the Government ever be minded to pursue that option and the House to debate it, the preconditions for action in Syria are also present: first, because of the right to self-defence of the Iraqi Government when some of the attacks are clearly coming across the Syrian border; and secondly, because of the doctrine of humanitarian necessity in terms of intervention to protect the population in northern Syria from ISIL’s attacks—something we have seen in recent days in the Kurdish villages by the Turkish border.

In his speech, the Leader of the Opposition rightly raised the question whether, on that latter point, there should be a resolution of the United Nations Security Council. There is no doubt that it has an important role to play in issues concerning humanitarian necessity, but the Government will at least have to consider whether any application, if it were to come, to the UN for such a resolution has any prospect of success. The ability to intervene, I have no doubt, exists, even if no such resolution is present.

However, the Leader of the Opposition’s comments and those of other Members highlight one of the really important challenges we face. The fact that the framework for legal intervention is present will not necessarily mean that the intervention that subsequently takes place meets the criteria of lawfulness. It has to be reasonable, necessary and proportionate to the aim that has to be achieved. In that, I can well understand the Government’s making a distinction between the situation in Syria and that in Iraq. Even in the context of Iraq, there are some pretty serious challenges. Some of our partners—including particularly the Iraqi Government—have a rather chequered human rights record. We must avoid being party to the ill treatment of prisoners, to the massacre of prisoners, or indeed to any action on the battlefield that could take place that we might facilitate by our aerial intervention. I trust that the Government have looked carefully at that in finding ways of co-operating.

Mr Andrew Turner: Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?

Mr Grieve: I will not; I must finish.

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The moment one looks at that issue, it becomes immediately apparent why the situation in Syria is likely to be so much more challenging. Having made those comments, I would like to emphasise that the fact that there are challenges—be they legal or ethical—is not a reason for doing nothing. Precisely because we have a tradition in this country of observing the rule of law and of maintaining human rights, even in a battlefield context, and because we have an interest in ensuring that civil society is facilitated in an area that has been so singularly deprived of it, we have a duty to take action. What this motion enables us to do is to give the Government the framework in which that can occur.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. The right hon. Member for Oldham West and Royton (Mr Meacher) will be the last Member to be subject to the five-minute limit. Thereafter, in a bid to maximise the number of contributions, I shall have to reduce the limit to four minutes for Back-Bench speeches. The first Member to be impacted upon by that new limit, I give him notice, will be the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh). I call Mr Michael Meacher.

2.29 pm

Mr Michael Meacher (Oldham West and Royton) (Lab): It cannot be emphasised too strongly that this is not another invasion of Iraq. It is a response to a desperate plea by the new Iraqi Government for outside help to combat what is seen as an existential threat to the Iraqi state; nor is ISIL just another enemy in the complex and lethal sectarianism of the middle east. It is a monster, with a bloodlust that can only be compared to the Genghis Khan Mongols or the latter-day Nazis—and one that the world simply cannot turn aside from or wash its hands of. But equally, it is foolish not to recognise the risks of military action through air strikes: the inevitable civilian casualties, the death threats to hostages, the very real possibility of terrorist retaliation on British soil and the risk of mission creep, which the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) was talking about in terms of taking action towards Syria with a dubious legality—I gather from what he said—and the uncertain and unpredictable consequences for the civil war against Assad.

Perhaps the biggest problem, as always in war, is the exit strategy. No war can be won from the air—we all agree on that—and this war can be won only on the basis of political and diplomatic action, which, frankly, will be quite difficult to achieve. First, this depends on the regional powers that feed ISIL with money, arms and political support reaching an agreement that they will withdraw that oxygen, which keeps the pyre burning. In particular, the oil-smuggling network that was created to evade UN sanctions on Saddam’s Iraq, now in the hands of ISIL and yielding more than $3 million a day, must be stopped via Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Secondly, this depends on achieving some reconciliation across the broken Shi’a-Sunni divide. That is incredibly important. Of course things have flared up with lethal intensity because of the highly discriminatory policies of the last Maliki Government. The new Iraqi Government recognise this. Of course they have been in office for

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only three weeks, but they have yet to provide a power-sharing agreement that will bring the Sunni majority on side.

Thirdly, the moderate Sunni element needs to be split from the extremists. Again, that is beginning to happen, but the lessons of al-Sahwa, the awakening, which played such a crucial role in stemming the insurgency in 2007-08, need to be revisited. Fourthly—this is the most difficult one of all, but the most important—the really big, major powers in the middle east, Saudi Arabia and Iran, which until recently were implacably opposed to each other, clearly are needed to use their influence to restrain their proxies and to restore at least some co-existence across inflamed sectarian lines. All that will be extremely difficult to achieve; but ultimately, the war against ISIL will be won only if we can reconstruct and repair the broken Iraqi state.

Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab): My right hon. Friend is making a very good speech. Does he agree that we must do all we can to rebuild trust between the Kurdish Government and the Government in Baghdad, because that will help us to build up civil society in Iraq, which is absolutely key to taking on ISIL?

Mr Meacher: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Of course that is part of the commitment of the new Iraqi Prime Minister, al-Abadi, to produce a governance within Iraq that takes account of all the key parts of the population, not just the Shi’a and Sunnis, but crucially the Kurds, who are a very important part of this equation.

Again, it cannot be emphasised too strongly that the Iraqi Prime Minister, al-Abadi, has made it absolutely clear that he does not want western and US troops on the ground in Iraq because he believes that he has sufficient volunteers to contest ISIL with Iraqi forces, provided that there is collaboration from air cover. But in the last analysis, the only serious long-term answer for these broken states—not just Iraq, but Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Nigeria—is to restore them again to a real, viable state. It is easy to say that; it is extremely difficult to do. It will take a long time, and it will require enormous, long-term economic and aid commitments, which was patently not apparent after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. That aid will, no doubt, predominantly come from the US and Europe, but it should come from other places as well.

Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) (Lab): My right hon. Friend has, of course, mentioned the previous occasion when we debated Iraq, when the UN’s position was absolutely central. There has been very little discussion about the UN today. Does he agree that it would have been preferable if we had a clear position from the UN and a motion specifically relating to Iraq before the House made a decision?

Mr Meacher: That is a very important point, because the economic and aid aspect, which is crucial—far more important than bombing, as several hon. Members have said—needs much more attention. I do not think that it is sufficiently taken into account in the motion today, and I take my hon. Friend’s point that that needs to be developed. This will go on a long time, and we need to give far more attention to that issue.

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I believe that the only justification for military action is not just to halt the ISIL momentum and to protect communities, but to buy the time to put in place the political and diplomatic conditions to enable the reconstruction of a broken Iraqi state, to achieve reconciliation of sectarian-torn communities along power-sharing lines and, above all—again, taking up my hon. Friend’s point—to achieve the long-term support to revive the economies and social institutions of those broken countries.

2.36 pm

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I visited the Christian villages near Mosul that are most affected by Islamic State. I have heard the harrowing tales of women losing husbands, sons and daughters to death and kidnapping. It is appalling to talk to a mother and hear her say that she last saw her son or her husband going to church and has never seen him again. But attacks on Iraqi Christians and other minorities, such as the Yazidis, have been happening for years, ever since our misconceived and misplaced invasion of Iraq. That replaced an admittedly brutal strongman who protected minorities with chaos. For years, I and others have argued that Assyrian Christians in the Mosul plain needed their own province in Iraq to defend themselves. Frankly, we have been met with a complacent response from the Foreign Office. Now, it is almost too late: the Kurds have failed to protect them. Perhaps they have not got the resources.

The truth is that, until now, we have done everything wrong. In our zealous liberalism, we have encouraged revolutions across the middle east and then been profoundly shocked when the forces that we have helped to unleash have turned against us. In that sense, the British Government are indirectly culpable in fostering the conditions for jihadism to thrive in Iraq and Syria. It is not surprising that last year in Maaloula, a Christian village in Syria, one civilian said to the BBC to tell the west

“that we sent you Saint Paul 2,000 years ago to take you from the darkness, and you sent us terrorists to kill us.”

In that sense, brutal as he is, Assad is a natural ally against jihadism.

Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con): Is my hon. Friend saying that we should not support the campaign of the Syrian free forces against the Assad regime, as some Gulf states are urging us to do?

Sir Edward Leigh: We all want Syria to be a democratic, modern country, and we all want the Syrian free forces to win this battle, but a year ago we were asked in this House of Commons to bomb Assad and now we are being asked to stand on our heads. I have heard of being asked to bomb our opponents and support our friends, but what we are doing now in Syria is extraordinary and makes no sense.

Rory Stewart: My hon. Friend is making a very important point. The idea is that somehow we could support the Syrian Government against extremists, but the paradox and the problem is that the only legitimacy the Syrian regime now has is the existence of those terrorists. What possible motive would Bashar al-Assad have to remove them so long as they remain his main reason for international support?

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Sir Edward Leigh: I accept that point. The Government tell us that we are not going to follow the Americans down the road of bombing ISIL in Syria, because of the complexities that my hon. Friends the Members for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) and for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) have outlined.

That border, however, does not exist. Our Government say we are only going to bomb ISIS in Iraq—a solution that makes no military sense whatsoever. What will this achieve? Most Back Benchers have no idea what the intelligence says. I suspect it is scanty. No journalist is embedded in IS, which would be a suicidal thing to do. How long will this operation last? Will bombing in Iraq alone seriously impede IS? We have only a tiny number of planes and they are based a long way away. We were once told that never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few, but now never have so few been asked by so many to achieve so much with no clear aim in sight.

Of course, however, IS is winning against the Iraqi Government, but it is not winning against them because of superior armour or its command and control, which is easily bombed; it is winning because the Iraqi Government are corrupt and their army, which we armed, ran away. Are we going to bomb 4x4s racing across the desert?

Make no mistake: this is about our amour propre as a nation. There is nothing wrong in that: we are a member, as we have been told time and again in this debate, of the Security Council, but if we want to act with a big stick in the world, we must wield the means. Yet what have we been doing with our armed forces over the past four years and how many planes have we got to bomb ISIL? What serious difference will we make?

Those are the realities, which we all know, but we are where we are. We have caused this mess and we should apologise to the people of the region for it. We have no idea where this will end. We have no idea what our bombing campaign will achieve or how long it will take. But there’s the rub: we caused this mess.

I want to make a personal point before I sit down. I do not think, for personal reasons, that I can walk away on the other side of the road from those desperate women I talked to in the Mosul province. I have stood beside the wrecked tomb of the prophet Nahum in the Christian village of Alqosh, which is directly threatened. I have talked to the monks nearby who live in fear. How strange that, writing in sublime language 2,500 years ago, the prophet Nahum warned us of the fall of the Assyrians and their civilisation—and their descendants are now meeting the same fate. Therefore, although I have severe doubts about what this will achieve, and with a heavy heart and full of foreboding, I will vote for this motion tonight.

2.43 pm

Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab/Co-op): I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I support military intervention by the United Kingdom in Iraq and will vote in favour of the motion. The situation is extremely troubling. The refusal of the west to recognise in a meaningful way the moderate elements in the opposition to Assad in Syria, coupled with the organisational ability and fanaticism of IS, gave IS the space to grow. Some outside support, wealth accumulated

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by smuggling, oil and kidnapping, and, perhaps, as rumours suggest, handouts from Gulf states, only increased its attractiveness to jihadists around the world.

Given the ideology of IS, it was inevitable that it would spread into the troubled western area of Iraq. The speed of its advance in June may have come as a shock, but we should not be surprised that it has flourished and grown. What may have been surprising was its ability to make common cause with various groups and organisations in Iraq that share little of its ideology, particularly the remnants of the Ba’athists and some tribes. However, it quickly became clear that others would be allowed to operate only as long as they followed IS. There are a number of well-founded stories of tribal groups suffering massacres of their young men after trying to argue or change course.

IS has released many self-glorifying videos that show the treatment of captured Iraqi soldiers, with lines of men being marched into the desert and shot, or knifed on the banks of rivers. Videos have been released of Sunni imams being killed because they would not turn over their mosques to IS. Minority groups such as the Yazidis and Christians have been persecuted, and hundreds of women have been taken away to who knows where. Vian Dakhil, Iraq’s only Yazidi MP and someone I know well, pleaded for the Iraqi Parliament to act as the Yazidi people fled the terror. Vian herself was injured in a helicopter crash as she tried to help her people. Although many have been rescued, they have lost their homes and their security. Untold numbers of people have perished and lie on the mountains or in the desert.

I remain deeply troubled by the way in which the international community has stood on the sidelines. The United Nations doctrine of responsibility to protect has counted for little during the past few months in western and northern Iraq. The only people to help were the Kurds from the Kurdistan region of Iraq and from the north-east of Syria. I am the co-chair of the all-party group on the Kurdistan region in Iraq, and I have had the opportunity to visit several times. I have seen the region develop into a thriving open society with a growing economy. That successful, semi-autonomous region is under attack from IS, and it is being defended by the dedicated and brave peshmerga.

Mike Gapes: Does my hon. Friend agree that the British Government should have given support to the Kurdistan Regional Government much earlier than they did? Does she agree that the fact that we provided arms directly only after other countries, such as Germany, had done so showed that we were behind the curve and should have acted much sooner?

Meg Munn: I agree with my hon. Friend on that subject. Kurdistan has opened its heart and arms to the many refugees who have fled to its territory. Many of them have fled from fighting and car bombs in different parts of Iraq and, in the past three years, many have fled from the conflict in Syria. During the past two months, the number of refugees has increased dramatically as Sunni, Shi’a, Yazidis and Christians have fled from IS. The unstinting support and protection given to the refugees is a credit to the Kurdish people.

It makes little sense to consider the serious situation in Iraq without considering Syria. Of course, it is right to respond to the request of the Iraqi Government and

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provide them with assistance, but to imagine that IS will recognise a border on a map is simply wrong. When Parliament was recalled on 29 August last year, the estimate of the dead in Syria was approximately 100,000. Of those who were against intervention because it would make things worse, I asked whether there were any signs that things would improve. We know that the stark answer to that question has been no. We failed to intervene, and the number of dead stands at more than 200,000. I support the UK’s being part of the military coalition in Iraq. I welcome the Prime Minister’s words on Syria, but I urge the Government to keep an open mind on possible further action in Syria. Only by recognising that the situations of the two countries are entangled and finding ways to deal with both will we have a chance of removing IS from the equation altogether.

2.48 pm

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Meg Munn), who made an excellent speech based on personal experience. I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr Mahmood) when he said that we had not learned our lessons after 10 years’ experience in Iraq. I differ from him; I believe that we have not learned our lessons on Iraq after 100 years of experience. During the British mandate, we struggled to build the institution of a functioning state. It seems to me that 100 years after our troops landed on the Fao peninsula on 6 November 1914, we are still fighting the same battles. The position is very different today, not least because it is not just us here who have first-hand evidence of what is going on in Iraq and Syria; the general public also have evidence of what is going on. Through technology and social media, we are seeing at first-hand the atrocities being carried out by ISIL, which are being brought into living rooms throughout the UK. Personally, I find that very frightening.

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister has made the justification for bringing this action today. There is no doubt that we have been invited in by a democratic state to help to defend it. We are part of a broad coalition with 10 Arab countries and 60 other nations. There is now firm evidence that ISIL cannot be negotiated with. I am sure that the Deputy Prime Minister will allude to that again in his winding-up speech.

We are being asked to give limited support. I am reassured that, unless the circumstances were dramatic, the Prime Minister would return to the House to reconfirm any actions that the Government may take. However, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan) said, the Prime Minister must have that flexibility to act in certain circumstances. I am pleased to be able to say that I support what he said.

This fight is not just abroad; it is also at home. I need some reassurances from the Government that we are not just going to send bombers from Cyprus to strike targets in Iraq and that we need to use our domestic resources to deter young Muslims from being recruited to this barbaric regime. We also need to be careful not to isolate our Muslim communities in our own country. Up and down this country, in the mosques and in our

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constituents’ homes, they are as concerned as we are about what is happening in Gaza, Israel, Iraq and Syria. We must not leave them behind.

In voting to support the Government tonight, however, my fear is that I have heard nothing today that makes me certain about the endgame. For us, Iraq is a never-ending story. I caution the Government because I do not want this country to be drawn into a never-ending war. I will support the Government tonight. Our thoughts must be with those people who are held hostage by this terror regime, the people who are victims of it and the people who are going to put their lives on the line fighting it.

2.52 pm

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) (Lab): The decision that we will take today is the most difficult that this House could face: whether to commit our armed forces to conflict. I believe that the use of military force must be a last resort. We must resort to military force only when all political, economic and diplomatic routes have been exhausted. However, the complex nature of the threat that we face and the evil perpetrated by ISIL cannot be confronted by political, economic and diplomatic means alone.

During the debate, it is important that we consider the lessons of history and understand that, whatever we decide, there will be consequences. We know well the possible consequences of military action. We will be entering a situation that we cannot fully control. Nor do we know for certain where our involvement will end. In the short term, we should be prepared for the fact that it might increase the risk against our country. ISIL cannot be defeated overnight and we will need fortitude and resolve over the coming days, weeks, months and potentially years.

However, there are consequences of not acting, too. If left unchallenged, ISIL will continue to sow its seeds of destruction throughout the middle east. Its ambition, though, is not limited to Iraq and Syria. It has already murdered a British citizen and if we do not confront it now, its murderous activities in the region could be exported further afield, including to our shores. Therefore, having very carefully considered the different courses of action, based on the information presented, I believe that the risk of not acting is greater. But if we are to act, we must ensure that our intervention conforms to certain criteria—that it is legal, legitimate and proportionate—and that any use of force brings with it a clear prospect of success in defeating ISIL’s capabilities, and comes with a clearly defined mission, end-state and exit strategy.

We should be clear, however, that air strikes in Iraq can be only one strand of a much wider strategy and that on their own they will not be sufficient to defeat ISIL. Achieving decisive success is only likely to come through subsequent action, and from regional forces taking action on the ground in Syria as well as in Iraq. So we should play our part in helping to build and sustain the wider coalition from across the region, and we should provide support to those contributing partner-nations where we are able to do so. However, there needs to be a wider, encompassing political framework, with a clear plan—both for the immediate aftermath and the longer term—to provide humanitarian aid and reconstruction.

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Jonathan Ashworth: My hon. Friend speaks with great authority on these matters. Regarding the regional actors, does he agree that, although it is welcome that five Arab nations are involved in this mission, they should do all they can to stem the flow of donations from their own citizens to ISIL that has been going on?

Dan Jarvis: I am grateful for that intervention and I absolutely agree that all those regional partner-nations must do everything they can, as we must.

The point that I was making is that military force on its own will not be enough. There needs to be a wider, encompassing political framework, with a plan for humanitarian aid and reconstruction, which will ultimately lead us to create a stronger and more accountable Iraqi Government as part of a wider settlement in the middle east. We should contribute to that work, but ultimately it will be for the countries of the region to ensure long-term peace and stability.

In the midst of this important debate, we should reflect on the service of our armed forces and on what we will ask them to do. I believe that throughout the country, whether people agree or disagree with the action being proposed today, our armed forces will always be held in the highest regard. They represent the best of our country and we have a lifelong commitment to supporting them in every way we can.

The judgments we are making are difficult, and there are no easy answers to the situation we find ourselves in. I do not relish the action that we are taking. Like Members from across the House, I come to this debate with a heavy heart, and I am mindful of the risks and uncertainties that undoubtedly lie ahead. However, it is in our national interest to act; it is in the interest of the people of Iraq to act; and it is in the interest of peace and stability in the middle east that we act. That is why I will support the Government motion today.

2.57 pm

Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con): Members of the House have laid out, with enormous ingenuity, the complexity of this situation; we have heard about everything from Turkey almost to Turkmenistan. In the end, however, this is a relatively simple motion and we should support the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the decision that they are making, for two reasons: one is that air strikes, in and of themselves, are a sensible response to the problem that we face; and the second is the caution and the focus that they bring to the issue of defining the wider mission.

Air strikes are sensible because, as I discovered with my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) when we stood on the front line looking at the Islamic State, it is clear that essentially what had happened is that an advance across open desert territory, using Humvees and artillery, had been driven back quite easily with air strikes. Those US air strikes of three or four weeks ago achieved the result of preventing people from taking Irbil, and of ensuring that 450,000 refugees currently located inside Kurdistan were protected from the advance of the Islamic State. If nothing else is achieved, that containment is worth while, and the Royal Air Force’s participation in that process would be not only legal but moderate. It would be a reasonable undertaking, not only to defend our troops but to achieve an important humanitarian objective.

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Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con): Does my hon. Friend therefore disagree with the hon. Member for Bradford West (George Galloway) who said that this is a force that cannot be contained by air attack because it has no presence on the ground? My hon. Friend’s experience would rather suggest the opposite.

Rory Stewart: That is a very good question. The answer, of course, is that outside the heartland of the Islamic State, which is basically the Sunni areas of eastern Syria and western Iraq, it is very vulnerable. When it moves across open terrain towards Shi’a-controlled areas around Baghdad or into Kurdistan, it is out miles into the desert. It has nobody to move among. This idea that the hon. Member for Bradford West (George Galloway) presented of it swimming among the population makes sense only in the areas around the Sunni triangle—Mosul, Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa—but does not make any sense in the Kurdish and the Shi’a areas. So the notion of containing through air strikes is sensible.

The second issue—because I think almost everybody in the House has agreed to vote for these air strikes—is the much bigger issue of destroying the Islamic State. Here, what has been very impressive in this debate is the caution that has been shown in making promises about our ability to do that. We have been here before. These people whom we are fighting in western Iraq are very, very similar to al-Qaeda in Iraq, whom we fought between 2007 and 2009. We are facing an increased, exaggerated version of the same problem.

Problem No. 1 is that we do not control the borders. That is most obvious in relation to Syria, but we also have a problem with Turkey. Problem No. 2 is that there is no trust currently among the Sunni population in the Government in Baghdad. They will find it very difficult—even more difficult than they did in 2007—to trust us again. The third problem is that there is very limited will among the Iraqi army to get into those areas. The Shi’a elements of the Iraqi army will be reluctant to go into Mosul. Kurds will be reluctant to go into Mosul, and even if they could be convinced to do so, they would find it difficult to hold those areas because they would be perceived as an alien occupying force. That means, therefore, that all the hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken about a political solution and a regional solution must be right, but we cannot underestimate the difficulty of that.

Mr Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): What does my hon. Friend say to our hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr Holloway) who is quoted in TheGuardian this morning as saying that if we start bombing we are bombing

“exactly the people you are going to need to get rid of Isis”?

He was referring to the Iraqi Sunni tribesmen.

Rory Stewart: It is a good challenge. The answer is that air strikes need to be focused primarily on containing the advance of the Islamic State territories, and secondly, attacks need to be targeted against terrorist locations. But they cannot be the platform or the foundation of a counter-insurgency strategy. That needs to come from the region.

Just to move towards an end, the fundamental problem is that the Sunni states in the region believe that the Islamic State is an opponent of Iran. This is, in the end,

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to do with suspicions between the Sunni states and Iran. As we have heard today, it does not matter how many planes we see flying around, the reality remains that Turkey has not yet committed to engaging in this. This is vital. We still see financial flows coming out of the Gulf directly into the Islamic State. Unless we can find a way of beginning to get the structures in place—structures which involve, first, trust between Iran and those other actors; secondly, some trust from the Sunni people on the ground on the future of their states—we have no future there. That is not a military problem but a diplomatic and political problem. Therefore, the challenge for the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister is to put those planks in place. If we are serious about these things—and we have the Arabists—we could get the money. People are worried about the budget for this; the Gulf states would write a £50 million or £100 million cheque to finance the teams to do that. It is slow, patient work. We must get out of the black and white mentality of engagement or isolation, surge and withdrawal, and instead show, through a light, long-term diplomatic and political footprint, the seriousness that should define this nation.

3.4 pm

Shabana Mahmood (Birmingham, Ladywood) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the debate today. I will support the motion before the House, but I do so with deep concern and real worry about the future. That is not because I do not want ISIL to be destroyed—I do—but because I believe that our history in Iraq, with the war of 2003, has eroded trust, created suspicion about our motives for getting involved and perhaps caused some of the factors that has led us to where we are today. Without genuine, prolonged efforts to achieve a political settlement, I have fears about where this may ultimately end. I am deeply concerned about the potential scale of civilian deaths that may occur, bearing in mind the scale of those that have already occurred and that are occurring even as we speak. Such decisions are deeply difficult—I often feel that we have to choose between the lesser of two evils—but a political solution is the only way to ensure that peace can be won and, in the end, that it can be a lasting peace.

The starting point for making my decision is that those in ISIL are fanatics and monsters; they are not Muslims. They have hijacked the name of Islam, the religion that I, as well as tens of thousands of my constituents and hundreds of thousands of British Muslims, follow and practice, and which we all love. They have hijacked and dishonoured the name of our religion. I am a Sunni Muslim, like the majority of British Muslims, and like them I abhor and am repulsed by the fact that those in ISIL describe themselves as true Sunni Muslims: they are not, and we reject them utterly.

Stephen Doughty: My hon. Friend is making a crucial point. Will she join me in welcoming the fact that in Cardiff, as well as in many communities throughout the UK, Muslim leaders from across the Muslim spectrum and leaders from other communities and faiths have come together to condemn ISIL’s activities not only in Iraq and Syria, but in recruiting and perverting young people in this country?

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Shabana Mahmood: My hon. Friend makes an important point. The coming together of the wider community has been welcome and much needed. He also makes an important point about the radicalisation of young British Muslims. We must be alive to the risk that all this action might also create such radicalisation.

I have to say that the anger and hurt of the wider Muslim community both here and abroad is secondary to the pain, the death and the destruction that ISIL has visited on its victims, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. The rightful place for those in ISIL is behind bars or 6 foot under the earth.

What then should we do? In making my decision, I have taken into account both the nature of ISIL, which I have already set out, and the fact that the action we are being asked to approve is legal. Such action is at the request of a democratically elected Government, so the situation is very different in nature from that in 2003. A sovereign state has asked for help that we can provide, and we should therefore provide it. I do, however, have concerns. The Prime Minister gave assurances on some of the issues when he opened the debate, but we in this House should continue to press the Government on such matters.

My first concern relates to the Iraqi Government. The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) raised important and powerfully made points about the difficulty of the task. I am not under any illusions about how difficult it will be, but the Government must be one for all of Iraqi society, and one in which they all feel that they have a stake. Otherwise, there will be no future for Iraq as it currently exists. They will have to consider splitting it up into two or three countries, with each group being given its own homeland. If they do not want to break up, they will have to consider some sort of constitutional settlement involving a form of federation or on the basis of the kind of constitutional debates that we are now having about our future. They will have to come to a resolution, and we must support them in doing so.

The Iraqi army must demonstrate that it is willing and capable of protecting all Iraqis, including the Sunnis in the south of the country who are under attack from Shi’a militias. There must be even-handedness if we are to win the wider and harder battle for hearts and minds that has to be won. ISIL is presenting itself as the true protector of Sunni Muslims in that area, and we should tackle that head on, so the Iraqi army must be able to meet that call. If the Iraqi army and Government can demonstrate that they will protect and include all minorities, we can move a long way towards the stability needed both to win the fight before us today and, in the end, to win the peace.

I must give a note of caution about some of our coalition partners. It is welcome and important that they are all on board, but we cannot be blind to the regional dynamics that exist between the different groupings, and we must be alive to the risks that such dynamics pose. However, a sovereign state has asked for help, and I think that we must all answer that call.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Before I call the next speaker, I advise Members that we will be dropping to a three-minute limit. If people can try to

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shave a little more off their speeches, we will get everybody in. The limit is four minutes now but will drop to three minutes after the next speaker.

3.9 pm

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): Among the many important comments made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Shabana Mahmood) was her statement that ISIL likes to place itself at the head of the Sunni Muslim community. That is why it is so absolutely essential that the Sunni Muslim regional partners of this Government must be at the forefront of any military action against what can be interpreted as the Sunni Muslim states. A great deal of what organisations such as al-Qaeda and ISIL do is deliberately provocative. They wish to provoke actions that will enable them to represent the ensuing conflict as one of infidel crusaders invading Muslim lands, which is a trap that we must at all costs try to avoid.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) observed in her excellent speech, some of us are now about to vote for the fourth time on intervention in the middle east. The first time that I voted was in favour of war in Iraq, primarily because I believed what I was told about weapons of mass destruction. I must admit, however, that at the back of my mind was the thought that somewhere in Iraq were a great many moderate, democratic forces just waiting to be liberated from the oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein. I am afraid that experience taught me better, because, following the downfall of Saddam Hussein, the age-old enmity between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims came to the fore and we found ourselves in a strange triangular relationship with two forces, which in their most fundamentalist forms are highly unattractive and certainly no friends of democracy.

Indeed, the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain) made the point well when he compared the situation to what happened in 1941, when the choice was made for us that the menace of Soviet communism, which frightened the west during the inter-war years, ended up being our ally because of the Nazis’ invasion of Russia. The trouble with a triangular relationship with two types of force, neither of which is friendly to democracy, is that there are no good outcomes. One can only try to arrange for the least worst outcome. We know what happened with the second world war and that it was the least worst outcome, but it still meant that half of Europe was enslaved under communism for decades.

Rory Stewart: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Dr Julian Lewis: I am happy to give way.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman took seven minutes in speaking. If he wants to intervene, he should remember that other Members have not yet spoken.

Rory Stewart: I apologise.

Dr Julian Lewis: I shall proceed.

Where are we with the current situation? When I was asked before this debate whether I would support the motion, I said that I would do so provided that the Government came forward with an integrated strategy

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in support of credible forces on the ground. I intervened on the Prime Minister earlier and I am glad that he is here to hear me make a point now. I asked him which Sunni forces would be on the ground for us to support. At the moment, he has only been able to come back to us with Iraqi and Kurdish forces. I must say to him that if our strategy is to get anywhere in the long term, the Arab League and the regional powers must step up and make their contribution. We cannot do it, because that would play into the hands of the Islamists.

I will be supporting the motion, with reluctance and a heavy heart, because I know that there are no good outcomes. It is a mistake to think that we can get rid of this organisation from places such as Syria and cosy up to Iran while thinking that we can pull down Assad. Those things are not compatible with each other. It is a bit of a George Orwell situation with three powers constantly shifting. The only answer to dealing with such things is the practical answer of the balance of power. We have to ensure that Sunnis cannot dominate Shi’as and that Shi’as cannot dominate Sunnis to excess.

3.14 pm

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): This is the third time during my lifetime in Parliament that I have been asked to vote to invade or bomb Iraq. I have voted against on previous occasions, and I will not support the motion today. I ask the House to think a little more deeply about what we have done in the past and what the effects have been. We have still not even had the results of the Chilcot inquiry.

The current crisis descends from the war on terror, the ramifications of which have been vast military expenditure by western countries and the growth of jihadist forces in many parts of the world. Many people have lost their lives, and many more have had their lives totally disrupted and are fleeing warzones to try to gain a place of safety. Only two weeks ago, it was reported that 500 migrants had died trying to cross the Mediterranean to get into Malta, and many die every day trying to get to Lampedusa. Many of those people are victims of wars throughout the region for which we in this House have voted, be it the bombing of Iraq, the bombing of Libya, the intervention in Mali or the earlier intervention in Afghanistan.

We need to give a moment’s thought to where the problems come from. The growth of the Taliban came from 1979, when the west decided to support the opposition in Afghanistan. The Taliban morphed into al-Qaeda, which then morphed into various other forces in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, and of course into the current group, ISIL. That is an absolutely appalling group of people—there is no question whatever about that. Their behaviour, with the beheading and abuse of people, is quite appalling.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend comment on the argument that the air strikes have so far prevented the expansion of ISIL forces? Would more air strikes go further in preventing ISIL from taking more ground?

Jeremy Corbyn: The air strikes have had some effect, but I do not believe that further air strikes and the deepening of our involvement will solve the problem. I will come to that in a moment, if I may.

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We are right to talk about ISIL’s appalling human rights record, but we should be careful with whom we walk. The Prime Minister pointed out that there had been a ministerial visit to Saudi Arabia to get it on side in the current conflict. We sell an awful lot of arms to Saudi Arabia, and there is an awful lot of Saudi money in London in property speculation and various other investments. Saudi Arabia routinely beheads people in public every Friday, executing them for sex outside marriage, religious conversion and a whole lot of other things, but we have very little to say about human rights abuses there because of the economic link with Saudi Arabia. If we are to go to war on the basis of abuses of human rights, we should have some degree of consistency in our approach.

One should be cautious of the idea that bombing will be cost-free and effective. There was a military attack in Tikrit on 1 September, as reported by Human Rights Watch. It was an attempt to strike at a supposed ISIL base of some sort in a school. It resulted in 31 people being killed, none of whom was involved in ISIL, which was nowhere near. We will get more of that.

I believe that the motion that we are being asked to support will lead us into one war after another. There has to be a political solution and political development in the region. I have had a lot of e-mails on the subject, including one this morning from a lady aged 91 that said, “War begets violence, which begets the next war.” We need to take a different stance.

3.19 pm

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): On the subject of Islam, I should say that the Leader of the Opposition was exactly right to emphasise that ISIL kills Muslims and that the Prime Minister was exactly right to emphasise that a Muslim Government have asked us for help. We are confronting ISIL, not Islam. We are not even confronting mediaeval Islam, which some speeches have mentioned. Mediaeval Islam was a pinnacle of civilisation when we were in the dark ages, and we owe it a huge intellectual debt. To compare it to the murderous extremists of ISIL is to do something of an injustice to that heritage.

Four useful tests could be set for British military intervention overseas, only one of which was barely met in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The first is a parliamentary vote, so I warmly welcome the recall of Parliament today. There has been enough discussion about what would happen under urgent circumstances and where discretional flexibility might be needed; we now need to make the case for a proper statutory framework for these votes and set out the circumstances in which Parliament votes for military action as well as what I hope would be the rare exceptions when that would not be necessary.

The second test is a clear legal and humanitarian case. Many others, especially the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), the former Attorney-General, have made that case much more eloquently than I could. I am glad that this year the Government have taken the time and care to make that case clearly to the House.

The third test is broad regional support. I welcome the support of Sunni states in the Gulf, although, like the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn),

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I have misgivings about some of them. I welcome Jordan’s participation in the coalition. Turkey’s would be even better, and explicit support from the Arab League would be better still, although its secretary-general has made supportive comments about the need to confront ISIL militarily.

I am afraid that I would draw the line at Iran, not because I do not support engagement with it—that is very important—but simply because many Sunnis in the region would feel that Iran has intervened quite enough in their countries for the time being. As the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) and the right hon. Member for Oldham West and Royton (Mr Meacher) said, we have to make strenuous diplomatic efforts to resolve what is in effect a cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has blighted the region for years. We need to make every effort to draw moderate—or relatively moderate—opinion in those two states closer together to reach some kind of accommodation.

The fourth test is a long-term plan. There is not time to explain what that should be, but it should apply to Syria as well as Iraq. It has to apply across the region, where we should seek every opportunity to support moderate, democratic opinion—including in Israel-Palestine, where we should give more support more consistently to Mahmoud Abbas, who is trying to pursue the path of peace, not of bombs, rockets and massacres.

3.22 pm

Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP): My apologies, Mr Speaker, for having missed the early part of today’s proceedings. Both sides of the House have agreed on the brutality, cruelty, inhumanity and misogyny of ISIL. We all want that organisation to disappear. We want people living under its yoke to be freed. No other families, regardless of where they are, should face the situation of loved ones being executed, beheaded or treated in any such way.

A strong case has been made from many corners of the House that something needs to be done. I agree. We need to support the Iraqi Government—hopefully, a Government not pursuing sectarian politics. We need to support the Kurdish government and stop equivocating just because it may pursue self-determination in future. We need to support regional responsibility, stability, economic development and a stand against extremism from the neighbouring countries. Furthermore, it would be far better if there were an express United Nations motion covering all of this.

It goes without saying that in all corners of the House we support our armed forces. The case has been made that we should try to contain and degrade ISIL’s capability—its money and where it gets its weapons and matériel from. We need to do everything to counter radicalisation at home and abroad, and to bring people to justice. We need to do all those things.

However, a great many people listening to proceedings today will share all the revulsion at ISIL yet have a deep, deep scepticism about the potential for mission creep and for a green light for a third Iraq war. People out there are right to be sceptical. We have heard strong justifications in recent years for intervention but very little about the longer-term outcomes. Afghanistan—how long were we there for? In Iraq, there was the issue of

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WMD. Action in Libya was for humanitarian purposes, but now there is total anarchy. Now there is Iraq again, moving swiftly on to Syria. It is important to bear all such issues in mind. Where is the plan? What next? What happens after the bombing has started?

The motion is very clear, and I urge Members to read it. It supports bombing, but it contains not a single mention of a strategy or plan to win the peace. It asks for a green light for military action that could last for years, and it makes no commitment to post-conflict resolution. For that reason, my party will not be able to support the motion, and we will vote against the Government this evening.