Caroline Lucas: UK bombs in Syria won't bring peace

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion

Put simply: Western bombing isn’t working.

Just over a month ago Parliament voted in favour of Britain joining the US-led bombing raids against Daesh in Syria. No one is in any doubt about the cruelty of Daesh, or the need to protect civilians from their brutality – but the evidence suggests that British bombs falling on Syria simply won’t help bring about peace in the region or increase our security here in Britain.

Anti-war protesters in Brighton (Photograph: Hugo Michiels)

Anti-war protesters in Brighton (Photograph: Hugo Michiels)

Indeed the evidence appears to suggest it will make matters worse.

We know that Daesh thrives in projecting itself, misguidedly of course, as the “guardians of Islam” in a war against the “imperialist West” and our bombs risk sustaining that warped narrative.

That’s one reason why, after the many tonnes of explosives dropped on Daesh targets in the last year or so, they have more recruits from more countries than ever before. Put simply: Western bombing isn’t working and, according to the experts who gave evidence to Parliament last year, British involvement undermines our diplomatic efforts.

To oppose British military strikes does not mean we should be doing nothing. Given that Daesh flourishes where chaos reigns, renewed efforts must be made to end the Syrian civil war. The Vienna peace talks are a start, but the process must be accelerated and continue to involve all proxies to the war. Diplomatic effort must also extend to Iraq, where the Abadi Government must be encouraged to reach out to the neglected Sunni minority - especially in those parts of the country where Daesh is recruiting.

The British Government should also immediately suspend British arms sales to the Middle East and commit to a foreign policy that is consistent as well as ethical, particularly when it comes to our relations with countries that undermine human rights. This week’s gruesome executions in Saudi Arabia – and the UK’s failure to condemn that despotic regime’s actions- highlight the glaring inconsistencies in British foreign policy which seriously undermine our role as a broker for peace on the world stage.

Furthermore Britain must both firmly abide by and improve upon its current commitment to taking in Syrian refugees. With temperatures dropping, there’s a clear humanitarian imperative, but ministers must also wake up to the very real risk that Daesh will want to exploit increasing poverty and desperation in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey for their own end.

I spoke at a meeting organised by Brighton and Hove Stop the War – making clear my continued opposition to British bombs falling on Syria. I’m proud of this city’s long history of promoting peace – and I hope that in the weeks and months to come we can build the anti-war movement her and beyond to oppose further damaging military interventions happening in the future.

Caroline Lucas is the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion