Some of the proposals being supported by Labour rebels, who are preparing to vote against Jeremy Corbyn over military action in Syria, seem woefully overoptimistic.
“A three-pronged strategy in which military intervention… would complement fresh humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives”? What evidence is there that such initiatives are being planned? Who would put them into action? How?
People in the Middle East are wary of Western diplomacy and humanitarian aid, because they know from experience that it always comes with a price tag attached. Jeremy Corbyn knows this. We should also note that the current initiative is headed by former International Development secretary (and slanderer of policemen) Andrew Mitchell, which tends to support the suggestion that there is a sinister commercial aspect to this.
And who are the “at least 50” Labour MPs who are planning to defy Mr Corbyn? Did they support Ed Miliband in his historic success in preventing the UK from launching military action in Syria two years ago? If so, what has changed their minds now?
Were they in Parliament when the second Gulf War was launched against Iraq? Did they support that? If so – considering how poorly that worked out – why on Earth are they considering another Middle East adventure?
You’ll notice from the article’s tone that the new right-wing Grauniad is all for Labour’s rebels to undermine their leader’s authority in this way. That in itself should be reason for us to doubt it.
At least 50 Labour MPs are prepared to defy Jeremy Corbyn by backing military action to protect civilians in Syria, it has emerged, as cross-party support grows for a new and comprehensive strategy to end the crisis.
In a clear challenge to the Labour leader’s authority, a group of MPs and peers is ready to work with Conservative colleagues to promote a three-pronged strategy in which military intervention by UK forces would complement fresh humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives.
In a sign of increasing cross-party cooperation over Syria, Tory MP and former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell, and Labour MP Jo Cox, a former head of policy at Oxfam, have joined forces in support of the plan in an article for the Observer. Corbyn has consistently made it clear he is opposed to British military involvement in Syria.
Although his close friend and shadow chancellor John McDonnell has suggested Labour MPs could be given a free vote in the Commons, it would be a huge blow to the leader’s authority if a vote was passed with the backing of a sizable number of Labour MPs.
Before the launch by Cox of an all-party group on Syria in parliament on Tuesday, she and Mitchell say that the response of the international community to the Syria crisis, through the UN, has been “woefully inadequate”.
They call for more humanitarian support for refugees from both the UK government and EU, urgent diplomatic efforts to bring President Bashar al-Assad to the negotiating table, and military involvement which has “protection of civilians at the heart of the mission”.
This could include the use of troops to protect new “safe havens” inside Syria, and enforce a “no-fly” or “no bombing zone” to prevent Assad launching further attacks on his own people, as well as moves to hit Islamic State in Syria.
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