On Tuesday (13th December 2016) Mike intervened in a debate on the situation in Aleppo/Syria. Here is his intervention on the Shadow Foreign Secretary:
Mike Gapes MP (Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South): My hon. Friend refers to other cities in Syria. Is it not clear that the Assad regime and the Russians have focused all their resources on destroying eastern Aleppo and allowed ISIL/Daesh to retake Palmyra? Does that not show their real priorities?
Emily Thornberry MP (Shadow Foreign Secretary): In some ways, that takes me to my fourth and final point. The impending fall of Aleppo must raise the question: what exactly is the Government’s current thinking about Syria? Increasingly across the country, we are seeing what the Foreign Secretary has called moderate rebel groups either defeated by pro-Assad forces or signing truce agreements with them. It has been claimed that more than 1,000 such local truce agreements are now in place. Do the Government believe that the moderate rebellion is still taking place or has any chance of succeeding? If not, what endgame are the Government now working towards?
In September, the Defence Committee published its report on the Government’s military strategy in Syria and concluded that the goal of creating new leadership in Syria that was
“neither authoritarian and repressive, on the one hand, nor Islamist and extreme, on the other” was too ambitious to be achieved “by military means alone”. That remains a wise judgment, yet the Government seem to be even further away than they were in September from squaring this particular circle.
These are desperately dark and terrifying hours for the people of Aleppo. They are hours of shame and disgrace for the Governments of Syria, Russia and Iran, who have perpetuated this vicious assault, and they should be hours of deep sorrow and reflection for every international institution and Government who failed to stop it happening and did not do enough to help the people of Aleppo while there was still time. Even now, there are still things that we can do. There are still important lessons to learn and important questions for the Government to answer about where we go from here. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will take this opportunity to answer some of those questions today.