Letter to Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn, on eve of Parliamentary vote to bomb ISIS in Syria
I listened with interest to your interview on tomorrow's Parliamentary debate on Syria on this morning's Today Programme.
You stressed the importance of diplomatic cover being given by the UN Security Council giving authorization for the use of force under the determination "to combat by all means" ISIS and other terrorist groups operating inside of Syria.
As Syria is represented at the United Nations by diplomats acting on behalf of President Assad's Government , which is thereby recognised as the legitimate Government of Syria, could you, as shadow Foreign Secretary, press the Foreign Secretary to seek formal permission from President Assad to allow British planes to both overfly Syrian airspace and conduct bombing missions.
Any other action is a de facto invasion of Syrian sovereign territory by British armed forces, which means British planes could face combat by the Syrian air force - as the Russian war plane so recently suffered over Turkey - putting the lives of our RAF pilots at severe risk.
Labour has always been an internationalist party that upholds international law. The Government position that ISIS does not respect international borders between Iraq and Syria so why should we, is an affront to international law.
1 ANNEX – UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESPOLUTION 2249 – 20 NOVEMBER 2015
The Security Council,
Reaffirming its resolutions 1267 (1999), 1368 (2001), 1373 (2001), 1618 (2005), 1624 (2005), 2083 (2012), 2129 (2013), 2133 (2014), 2161 (2014), 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2195 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2214 (2015) and its relevant presidential statements,
Reaffirming the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations,
Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of all States in accordance with purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter,
Reaffirming that terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed,
Determining that, by its violent extremist ideology, its terrorist acts, its continued gross systematic and widespread attacks directed against civilians, abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, including those driven on religious or ethnic ground, its eradication of cultural heritage and trafficking of cultural property, but also its control over significant parts and natural resources across Iraq and Syria and its recruitment and training of foreign terrorist fighters whose threat affects all regions and Member States, even those far from conflict zones, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security,
Recalling that the Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida also constitute a threat to international peace and security, 2
Determined to combat by all means this unprecedented threat to international peace and security,
Noting the letters dated 25 June 2014 and 20 September 2014 from the Iraqi authorities which state that Da’esh has established a safe haven outside Iraq’s borders that is a direct threat to the security of the Iraqi people and territory,
Reaffirming that Member States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law;
Reiterating that the situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the Syria conflict and emphasizing the need to implement the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 endorsed as Annex II of its resolution 2118 (2013), the Joint Statement on the outcome of the multilateral talks on Syria in Vienna of 30 October 2015 and the Statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November 2015,
1. Unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIL also known as Da’esh which took place on 26 June 2015 in Sousse, on 10 October 2015 in Ankara, on 31 October 2015 over Sinaï, on 12 November 2015 in Beirut and on 13 November 2015 in Paris, and all other attacks perpetrated by ISIL also known as Da’esh, including hostage-taking and killing, and notes it has the capability and intention to carry out further attacks and regards all such acts of terrorism as a threat to peace and security;
2. Expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families and to the people and Governments of Tunisia, Turkey, Russian Federation, Lebanon and France, and to all Governments whose citizens were targeted in the above mentioned attacks and all other victims of terrorism;
3. Condemns also in the strongest terms the continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of humanitarian law, as well as barbaric acts of destruction and looting of cultural heritage carried out by ISIL also known as Da’esh; 3
4. Reaffirms that those responsible for committing or otherwise responsible for terrorist acts, violations of international humanitarian law or violations or abuses of human rights must be held accountable;
5. Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;
6. Urges Member States to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, and urges all Members states to continue to fully implement the above-mentioned resolutions;
7. Expresses its intention to swiftly update the 1267 committee sanctions list in order to better reflect the threat posed by ISIL also known as Da’esh;
8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.