LONDON: Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday it was time to join air strikes against Islamic State in Syria because Britain cannot “subcontract its security to other countries”. Many Britons are wary of entering into another war in the Middle East after Western intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya failed to bring stability to the region and some believe led to the rise of militants groups such as Islamic State. But after Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing 130 people in Paris, some members of parliament who were reluctant to launch further military action in the Middle East now feel it is needed to protect Britain from such attacks.
Cameron lost a vote on air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in 2013 and must persuade some wary members of his own Conservative Party and in the opposition Labour Party to back him if he is to win parliament’s support for military action. After setting out his case for action, Cameron appeared to have persuaded at least two of 30 party “rebels” who voted against him in 2013, but other opposition lawmakers said he had yet to answer questions about how the bombing would achieve peace. “We do not have the luxury of being able to wait until the Syrian conflict is resolved before tackling ISIL (Islamic State),”
Cameron wrote in a response to the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, which had said a policy to extend air strikes was “incoherent” without a strategy to defeat the militants. “It is wrong for the United Kingdom to sub-contract its security to other countries, and to expect the aircrews of other nations to carry the burdens and the risks of striking ISIL in Syria to stop terrorism here in Britain,” he added.
He said in the 24-page response that the campaign against Islamic State was entering a new phase, focusing on command and control, supply lines and financial support – something that suited Britain’s capabilities. Fearful of losing standing on the world stage, Cameron said Britain should respond to requests from allies, including the United States, but said he would not put a vote to parliament unless there was a majority backing action. He said he did not want to hand Islamic State a “propaganda coup” by losing a vote.
The government has not set a timetable for any vote but Cameron said earlier this week parliament would be able to consider his case over the weekend, prompting many to expect he could push for a vote as early as next week. Cameron told some lawmakers, who fear joining the air strikes over Syria would make Britain more of a target, that with the threat to the country already as high as it could be, the only way of reducing it would be to “degrade” Islamic State. — Reuters