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Old 25-09-2018, 10:48 PM   #1
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Post UK's threat of attack on Syria-Letter to MP


I've sent a few letters to my MP about Syria. I was about to give up, but the sheer horror of the potential spread of war resulting from the government's obvious willingness to intervene there by force was too concerning. Crazy, just as the war is about to end by the defeat of ISIS in Idlib, the UK and US want to go in militarily. I think Peter Hitchen got my arse in gear when in his article relating to the perilous situation.

After I wrote the letter I also watched the Crane report which has useful info

Anyway here's the last letter I sent my MP. Feel free to use it as you wish, chop and change it if you want if you (hopefully) write to your MP or someone else. I aimed to make it logical, easy to read, irrefutable and respectful.

Dear XXXX,

I hope you are well.

I am writing to you about the threatened attack by the UK and US on Syria if it uses force in Idlib. The gravity of using deadly force, endangering our armed forces and potential for further spread of war clearly demands close scrutiny by Parliament. Especially in the wake of the Chilcot report on which the government spent over 7 years and £10m of public money.

In response to the report, David Cameron said "We cannot turn the clock back but we can ensure that lessons are learned and acted on.” As a bare minimum, MPs must ensure that the findings of Chilcot are not being repeated, some of the key ones are as follows:

-The case for war was presented with "a certainty which was not justified". “Designed to make the case and secure Parliamentary and public support for the government's position" that urgent action was needed.

-It was based on "flawed" intelligence about the country's supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which was not challenged as it should have been

-The circumstances of the government's legal justification were “far from satisfactory”. “Given the gravity of this decision, Cabinet should have been made aware of the legal uncertainties.”

-The report was critical of intelligence agencies, which were working with an "ingrained belief" that Saddam Hussein retained chemical and biological warfare capabilities which he was hiding from UN inspectors and that he was determined to acquire nuclear weapons.

-Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chairman Sir John Scarlett should have made clear to Mr Blair that suspicions about WMD had not been established "beyond doubt" prior to his publication in September 2002 of a dossier setting out the supposed threat from Saddam. From 9/11 onwards Mr Blair “chose tactics” to “emphasise” the threat of Iraq.

-Mr Blair was warned explicitly by the JIC in early 2003 that an Iraq war would “heighten” the threat from Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists. Blair overlooked the threat military action would pose to the UK.

-Planning for post-conflict Iraq was "wholly inadequate", with shortfalls in armoured vehicles to protect UK troops which "should not have been tolerated".

-Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were under-estimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate. The UK failed to plan or prepare for the major reconstruction programme required in Iraq."

-The “bearers of bad tidings were not heard” on the ground and Mr Blair arrived in Iraq to find things were worse than he'd been told, the report said.

-There was an “enduring gap” between the government's ambitions and actual capability for civilian support

-The government did not consider the cost at all when deciding whether to go to war. Ministers were not even given estimates of how much the invasion or clean-up costs might come to.

And Chilcot's conclusion: “the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted". "Military action at that time was not a last resort."

Yet despite this recent lived experience, the government's behaviour is opening it up to making the same mistakes all over again. On the 10th of September, U.K. Foreign Office Minister of State for the Middle East Alastair Burt was asked by Emily Thornbury MP:

-If there would be questions and a vote in Parliament prior to it deciding it wants to attack Syria

-If any chemical attacks are reported, would the UK take part in any military action before the OPCW have visited those sites in question, independently verified those reports, and attributed responsibility for any chemical weapons used.

The response Alastair Burt gave was deeply disturbing. He did not guarantee any debate or vote would take place in Parliament as action may need to be taken “quickly” and assumes it will be taken “appropriately”. He did not address the question regarding the verification of reports of chemical weapon use at all. This is consistent with your statement sent to me with your letter dated 30thApril 2018.

By “quickly” does he mean rapidly, but not so rapidly that the government may prejudge a case against Syria with a "certainty which is not justified" and not before the “last resort" to military action is reached? The public are to take as fact that the government will act appropriately without defining beforehand what this means, yet reserves the right to potentially act without scrutiny. There is too much scope for reckless action and consequences we will be ill-prepared for, just as with Iraq. The same urgency for humanitarian intervention does not exist in Yemen's case where Saudi Arabia appears to have used white phosphorous, possibly supplied by the US.

You stated regarding Douma, that it was obvious the Syrian Government was responsible for a chemical attack there. This was before the OPCW's fact finding mission had completed its work and “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected.”

I am glad you support and respect the work of the OPCW, it is the best we have. If there happens to be a future report of chemical weapons use, would you support the government if it seeks to launch an attack before the OPCW completes its fact-finding before taking any action. If the government does seek to do this, would it be any different from when war was started against Iraq before Hans Blix had finished investigating the presence of WMD in Iraq?

In your statement you said Russia hindered the OPCW's investgation into the alleged Douma incident. I read the OPCW report, Syria asked them to conduct the investigation on the third 3 day after the reported use of chemical weapons. The Russians along with the Syrians did not hinder but ensured security for the investigators, yes there was a few days in which there was a delay in accessing some areas as they had to be secured. The areas were dangerous as confirmed by United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS). There were mines and danger from grenades and small arms which killed 2 members of the security detail for UNDSS who were doing a reconnaisance visit, a Russian soldier was also injured. With agreement from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS),UNDSS and the OPCW the Russian military police provided security for the OPCW fact finding mission. So the OPCW were helped rather than hindered.

You assessed that a diplomatic solution was not possible at the time. Surely the potential for diplomacy was there when the UK, Russia and Syria all supported the OPCW mission in Douma.

I note your caveat “usually” in “when faced with an atrocious humanitarian disaster the House of Commons can usually be seen at its best with MPs coming together to support actions against those responsible.” I hope it is an acknowledgement that in the unusual cases Parliament is seen at its worst, as when MPs came together to catastrophically support an unjustified war in Iraq. In that case you would perhaps give Corbyn, who I am not particularly a supporter of, some credit. He was right in standing by “and doing nothing to stop future atrocites” as he also was regarding military intervention in Libya. Iraqis, Libyans and we are living with the terrible consequences, of which the horror of ISIS is one. The government has a responsibility to maintain due caution against any ingrained belief or any prejudgement before all the facts are in so as not to tempt the same disasterous fate again. I am not convinced the government factors this into its considerations undermining its role in keeping citizens safe.

Prior to the government launching major attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and now Syria could be next, basic questions have not been asked/answered:

-What would constitute action by Syrian forces where UK government would decide on the use of force?

-What would constitute evidence and who would test its veracity and how?

-Would we be acting lawfully and on what basis?

-Would we be benefitting ISIS by taking such action?

-How does the UK want ISIS to be removed from Syria?

-If the intervenion is illegal, is the UK and US provoking war with Russia, Iran and Syria?

-What are our aims and their limits? Destruction of military facilities/regime change/break up of Syria, for example?

-What outcome of our action would we deem successful and what unsuccessful?

-What steps would the governmnet take to ensure we avoid what we consider unsuccessful?

-Why are we deciding to intervene in Syria rather than in Yemen?

-Should we complete the rebuilding of the countries we have intervened in before intervening elsewhere?

-To prevent moral hazard, what accountability and sanctions would public officials and elected representatives have to face if the failings and negligence were repeated as shown in the Chilcot report.

-Why would the outcome of our intervention be any different to the results in Iraq Afghanistan and Libya?

-Can we afford it when our country has endured 10 years of austerity? The Direct cost of the conflictin Iraq cost £11.83bn in today's money

Yours sincerely,
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