Miliband still pushing his own Syria strategy – despite Cameron bending over backwards to win him over

29th August, 2013 8:34 am

So despite David Cameron executing a significant u-turn last night in an attempt to get Ed Miliband and Labour on board over Syria, the Labour leader is still planning to push his own amendment today in the Commons. That raises the possibility of Labour’s position being the one that wins out in the Commons – effectively leaving us in a position where Ed Miliband has over-ruled the Prime Minister on a matter of war and peace.

Here’s the amendment that Miliband will be asking Labour MPs to back today:

This House expresses its revulsion at the killing of hundreds of civilians in Ghutah, Syria on 21 August 2013; believes that this was a moral outrage; recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons; makes clear that the use of chemical weapons is a grave breach of international law; agrees with the UN Secretary General that the UN weapons inspectors must be able to report to the UN Security Council and that the Security Council must live up to its responsibilities to protect civilians; supports steps to provide humanitarian protection to the people of Syria but will only support military action involving UK forces if and when the following conditions have been met:

– The UN weapons inspectors, upon the conclusion of their mission in the Eastern Ghutah, being given the necessary opportunity to make a report to the Security Council on the evidence and their findings, and confirmation by them that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

– The production of compelling evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for the use of these weapons;

– The UN Security Council having considered and voted on this matter in the light of the reports of the weapons inspectors and the evidence submitted;

– There being a clear legal basis in international law for taking collective military action to protect the Syrian people on humanitarian grounds;

– That such action must have regard to the potential consequences in the region, and must therefore be legal, proportionate, time-limited and have precise and achievable objectives designed to deter the future use of prohibited chemical weapons in Syria; and

– That the Prime Minister reports further to the House on the achievement of these conditions so that the House can vote on UK participation in such action.

– This House further notes that such action relates solely to efforts to deter the use of chemical weapons and does not sanction any wider action in Syria.

If the government thought Miliband was “a f****** c*** and a copper-bottomed s***” last night, imagine what they’re saying now…

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  • Oh my, is that what they called him ? I think that the resolution should forbid any unilateral action not sanctioned by the UN security council. At present a resolution could be vetoed and as long as the other conditions have been met we could still take part. It would be illegal.

    ‘There being a clear legal basis in international law for taking collective military action to protect the Syrian people on humanitarian grounds. ‘ :

    Justification on humanitarian grounds is difficult, why now and not during the last 24 months when more life was lost?

    • James Bloodworth

      “I think that the resolution should forbid any unilateral action not sanctioned by the UN security council.”

      So unless the Russian dictatorship votes to slit the throat of its own murderous and dictatorial ally then we should refrain from doing anything?

      Astonishing.

    • RogerMcC

      What is it with you people and the UN Security Council?

      Back in 1956 Gaitskell and Bevan could still have noble illusions about the UN and its role.

      57 years and quite literally tens of millions of deaths in wars, famines and massacres perpetrated by states in good standing with the UN (two of whom have perpetual vetoes on the UNSC which they regularly use to protect their murderous clients) later we have no excuse whatsoever.

      And ‘why now and not during the last 24 months when more life was lost?’ – er the use of chemical weapons on a large scale against civilians?

    • I’m surprised at you Robbie, you’re usually one of the saner voices.

      • Well I specialise in International Relations and Development so this is an area that I’m really interested in. I know it’s a really difficult issue but one of the major contentions is nobody is actually interested in ‘removing Assad’ or ‘removing his regime. That is not what the US/France/UK are arguing. They want to strike to teach him and other dictators a lesson of the consequences of using chemical weapons which is quite different from what many people think and argue. So after a ‘limited strike’ they are going to walk away and allow the civil war which Assad is winning to continue. That exacerbates a civil war increases the amount of casualties which is not ‘humanitarian intervention’ it’s a military objective with collateral damage.

        Whilst he will have a reduced capacity he was winning the war quite convincingly to begin with and will continue to do so. As Cameron said i suppose it’s a judgement call. Do you think reducing his capacity slightly is worth the huge amount of instability and civilian dead? For example, the regime has begun emptying prisons and forcing people into military bases / government buildings which the US/France are about to target are being packed with civilians. Is it worth blowing them all up to ‘teach him a lesson’ ? I don’t think it is.

        Also when people say ‘The Syrian people are crying out for action’ who are they talking about? There are huge chunks of the country who support the regime based on tribal loyalty. It’s not Assad V the people it’s Assad V lots of different factions : The National Co-ordination Committee? The Free Syrian Army? The Nursa Front? The Syrian Islamic Front? Al Qaeda? Who are ‘the rebels’?

        There is an increasing amount of evidence that ‘rebels’ from whatever group are committing genocide in Northern Syria of Kurds where Assad has not had control for over a year, 20,000 Kurds have fled. So when the media cite the figure 100,000 dead overall, people need to realise that a significant proportion of that number is not attributable to the Assad Regime which is itself made up of many factions.

        I think that we should have had an intervention a long time ago, it should be the UN and there should be a peace settlement between all parties it won’t’ work otherwise. We removed Gadaffi and the country is now in a civil war with the ‘good rebels’ killing many more civilians than Gaddafi during their crisis.

        Finally parliament was told this was a big deal they came back early at a huge cost to the taxpayer. Two days ago Obama said he wanted to strike but would wait for congressional approval on or after September the 9th. If this is a ‘Humanitarian intervention’ to what extent can ‘the Syrian people’ afford to wait?

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23650894

        http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/28/the_civil_war_within_syria_s_civil_war_kurdish_fighters (Good read)

        http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/islamist-rebels-force-20000-syrian-kurds-to-flee-to-iraq

        http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Aug-03/226146-kurds-islamists-clash-in-north-syria-at-least-12-jihadists-killed.ashx#axzz2dSDneYfG

        http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/08/2013810192811431562.html

        http://rt.com/op-edge/syria-kurdish-muslim-conflict-110/

        • You raise lots of good points which I don’t necessarily disagree with. I have serious misgivings over intervention and haven’t decided that’s the best course – I just don’t think it should be ruled out and waiting for the UN’s approval is like waiting for Godot. A quick glance at the UN’s human rights council barely has a democratic state amongst its members so I don’t think we should have to wait for the approval of a gangster like Vladimir Putin.

  • alexagiusuk

    You are right that Cameron as PM has gone out of his way to build a consensus with the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and Labour on this issue. He deserves a lot of credit for this as getting everyone united on preventing a genocide using chemical weapons and building an agreement on the way forwards should be achievable and is the right thing to do before any UK response.

    Miliband has responded by choosing to play politics with the issue, the issue being the genocide of a population using chemical weapons. He has shown himself to be incapable of taking a decision either way even on even the most basic moral issues and his game playing while more people die shows him to be what the government source claims.

    Not to mention the damage his game playingpoliticking on this issue has done to Labours standing with the French socialists President Hollande and the US Democratic PartyPresident Obama.

  • crosland

    Obviously no-one was idle since March then when the red line was allegedly announced ?
    I think you need to get a dictionary to look up the word genocide as well, so you know what it means.
    You are right though about trying to build a consensus with the conservatives, as he is in a bit of mess with his party losing members and votes to UKIP and other parties, Roll on 2015 and his regime’s removal.
    However, that’s hardly the same as ensuring we don’t commit to other country’s foreign policy actions without being clear what is being agreed, as in the past.
    It will only be the US Congress that will vote now on any military action and if
    you think they’d stop anything because we said different you must be on another planet.

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