“The options in Syria have never been easy or risk-free, today all options are bad ones” – my words in the Emergency Parliamentary debate on August 29, 2013 are sadly still true.
When Bashar Assad massacred peaceful protesters demonstrating for democratic change in 2011, the international community did nothing. US President Obama was not interested, and Russia and China vetoed action in the UN Security Council. Failure to intervene led to radicalisation and extremism.
The horrific chemical weapons attack in Idlib, undeniably committed by the Syrian regime, is yet another act of barbarity in a conflict which shows no sign of ending.
Deterring future use of chemical weapons by firing missiles symbolically, as Obama originally threatened and President Trump has now done, will be an inadequate gesture. There must be a coherent strategy to protect civilians, including an internationally-led no-fly zone in northern Syria.
I have seen the good work done by the UK government to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. We should take our fair share too.
Where a government is responsible for mass murder, genocide or war crimes like use of chemical weapons, the international community has a clear obligation to intervene by diplomatic means, sanctions and in the most extreme cases, military operations. We cannot allow the slaughter to continue.