Salmond urges “real policy” on Syria as UK Govt twists and turns with Trump

Nathanael Williams

Salmond urges a return to moral consistency and sound planning to stop tragedy of Syria

ALEX SALMOND, former first minister and the SNP’s spokesperson on International affairs, has said that the airstrikes conducted by US President Donald Trump are part of a policy with “no solutions” which the UK Government is following without question.

In comments following the launch of 50 tomahawk missiles yesterday (Thursday 6 April) which struck the Shayrat airbase in Homs province Syria in retaliation for the chemical gassing of civilians alleged by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Salmond has urged the UK Government to focus on peace talks to tackle the web of proxy interests in the region, humanitarian aid to the worst ravaged areas of the country and a reinstating of the Dub amendment to allow lone child refugees to come to the UK.

The latest strikes have seen the Trump administration shift its original policy of non-involvement, support of Assad and a ban of refugees to active military campaign. 

Responding to the overnight US cruise missile strikes Alex Salmond MP said: “The overnight cruise missile strikes by the USA against a Syrian regime air base are no substitute for a policy towards ending the conflict.

“If the position of the UK Government is merely to back any US action whatever it may be then they will find themselves struggling to keep up with the twists and turns of the Trump administration.
“President Trump has a political interest right now in humiliating his predecessor and in distancing himself from Russia. The UK has no interest in either, with only this week the Foreign Secretary attempting to reset UK/Russian relations.
“All of this is no substitute for a real policy to end the tragedy of the Syrian civil war. That should include UK action now on humanitarian aid including air drops, reinstatement of the Dubs amendment on bringing in unaccompanied child refugees with preparation made now for future collective action on weapons inspectors and peacekeeping forces to stabilise the country post-conflict . Our role should be helping the international efforts on conflict resolution as the First Minister outlined earlier this week at the United Nations.”

“Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable.” Jens Stoltenberg

Following the attack on the Syrian Government base, the Russian military told Associated Press (AP) it would help Syria strengthen its air defences. Russian defence ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said that a “complex of measures” to strengthen Syrian air defences will be done shortly to help “protect the most sensitive Syrian infrastructure facilities.”

The UK Government was quick to come out and give its full support for the strike stating that as a result of the chemical attacks it believed was carried out by Assad, the strike was “restrained” and “appropriate.” Michael Fallon, the UK defence minister went on BBC Breakfast to stress that the UK Government would not be getting involved in the current spout of airstrikes against Syrian target for the time being.

There has been pressure from all quarters and across the political spectrum for greater intervention in Syria following the 2013 decision by the House of Commons to refrain from military action against Bashar al-Assad. In 2015 the house of commons backed bombings in Syria, directed against Islamic State. The SNP have been cautious to point out that ill-thought out intervention in Syria has the potential to be a disaster ten times greater than the aftermath if the Iraq War of 2003.

“Thus, there is now further and dangerous unpredictability introduced into a conflict of which America is now at the centre.” Alex Slamond

The former first minister added: “Attacking a chemical weapons base can be justified in international law but in itself it provides no solutions. Such strikes should take place only after detailed examination and assessment of the storage facility and the delivery mechanism. They should also be part of a collective effort to place the use of chemical weapons and nerve agents beyond the pale of conflict and crucially they should also be part of a considered strategy to bring this ruinous multi-layered Syrian civil war to an end.
“In this case, the cruise missile strike seems to dramatically reverse the previous stance of the Trump administration which was to partner Russia and tolerate Assad. Thus, there is now further and dangerous unpredictability introduced into a conflict of which America is now at the centre, both in confronting Assad and with troops on the ground among the forces gathering for the assault on the last Daesh stronghold of Raqqa.

However, Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg disagreed with Salmond stating that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, “bears full responsibility” for the US airstrikes against an airbase in Syria.

He added: “Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable.”

Picture courtesy of CommonSpace

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