Durkan: UK has undergone ‘mission flip’ on Syria

Mark Durkan
Mark Durkan

Foyle MP Mark Durkan says there’s been “mission flip” in the Government’s policy on Syria with the decision to bomb “the very people we would have been assisting had we conducted airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad two years ago.”

Opposing airstrikes in the House of Commons, Mr Durkan said bombing Syria fulfils the United Kingdom’s role in the “jihadi playbook.”

“I think that there is a severe risk of feeding what we are trying to fight - of feeding a wider agenda of radicalisation - by agreeing to airstrikes and so adopting the role that the jihadism playbook craves us to adopt.

“We are told that we should agree to airstrikes in Syria because they are merely an extension of what is already happening. The people who tell us that are the same people who tell us that there is no danger of mission creep in what the Government propose, yet there has already been an absolute mission flip.

“Only two years ago the idea was to go in and airstrike against Assad, and now it is to go in and airstrike against the very people we would have been assisting had we conducted airstrikes two years ago,” said Mr Durkan.

The SDLP MP also warned of a nightmare scenario where Assad, backed by Russia, starts to move against Islamic State, whilst the so-called moderate rebels, backed by Britain, move in the same direction.

“What happens when Assad decides that he is moving into Raqqa, supported by Russia? We will then have a conflict within the alliance itself, because what the Government propose is on the basis of a shifting alliance with some very shifty allies, including some who have been the syndicators of terrorism, powers and personages within the Gulf states.

“Members should question what Turkey has been doing in relation to oil and arms and Daesh; question what Saudi Arabia has been doing, and they are our allies. When the Government’s mission changes, where will we go? We will have mission creep.”