Political divide opens up on Syria bombing

The Eurofighter Typhoon

The Eurofighter Typhoon

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POLITICIANS and activists from across the borough are divided over how to respond to the crisis in Syria and the threat of Islamic State (IS).

Prime Minister David Cameron is urging MPs to back air strikes against IS strongholds in Syria in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris which left 130 people dead.

The call for action has been echoed by Ukip North West MEP Paul Nuttall, who told the European Parliament an international coalition should be put together to tackle Islamist extremism.

However, the demands for a strong military response has not met with universal approval locally, with Wigan and Leigh Green Party chairman Will Patterson urging caution before escalating further conflict in the Middle East.

Mr Nuttall said: “We must first realise who our enemy is and who our enemy is not. We must not see foreign policy through the eyes of the student common room.

“We must realise that geopolitics is not a case of simply black and white but are very often grey areas, and we must be grown up enough to say sometimes my enemy’s enemy is my friend.

“We need to bring together a grand coalition of nations which includes not just the Western powers, but also Russia, China, India and Muslim nations as well.

“We must come together to cut out the cancer of radical Islamism which brought carnage onto the streets of Paris and I believe will no doubt attempt to repeat the same evil on the streets of another European city sometime soon.

“We need to admit also that Bashar al-Assad is not the threat to global peace in comparison to the Islamism of Islamic State. But we must also look at ourselves and ask have our policies aided the terrorists and sadly the answer is yes.”

Referring to IS by its Arabic name Daesh, Mr Patterson said the organisation represented a clear threat to peace and stability but offering air support to rebel forces in Syria had failed to achieve its aims.

He said: “After the horror of the Paris attacks, it’s understandable that people feel the need to do something to respond to the threat of Daesh, but this is a time for cool heads and careful thought.

“Before UK forces are committed and more lives are put at risk, it’s critical that the people making that decision think hard about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what they hope to achieve from it.

“After a series of misguided military interventions in the region, MPs of all parties need to challenge the Government to explain why the action demanded by David Cameron will succeed where others have failed and bring peace and stability to the Middle East.”

Mr Cameron told the House of Commons yesterday there was strong legal justification for extending military action in Iraq but would not call a vote in Parliament unless there was a “clear majority” in favour.

Mr Cameron flatly ruled out deploying ground forces but said Britain should not leave the fight against IS to France, the USA and allies.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned of “unintended consequences” of air strikes while the SNP indicated its MPs were unlikely to back military action and the Liberal Democrats said more needed to be done to protect civilians.