SNP MEP Alyn Smith, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, was in charge this week of shaping the Parliament's position on Iraq, Syria and the ongoing fight against the so called Islamic State.
The eventual resolution negotiated by Alyn on behalf of his group was approved by a massive majority of 585 for, 34 against. The EU is coming up with a new strategy in reaction to profound developments in Iraq and Syria, following the upsurge of IS last summer in Iraq, increased activity in Syria and the continuing attacks against civilians from the Syrian Government.
Speaking in the debate on the motion with EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Mr. Stylianides, Alyn said:
"Madam President, I would start by commending the fair degree of cross-party working which we have seen in the drawing up of this resolution. I think it is a decent attempt to take stock of where we are in this crisis and to place in context the humanitarian disaster, the risk of radicalisation locally and in our own countries and, indeed, the political acts that have brought us here – because they are all interlinked in various ways. It is important that we realise that the so-called Islamic State is as much a consequence as a cause of how we came to be here. The disastrous intervention in Iraq – and I very much echo a previous speaker’s comments – created the conditions for instability and radicalisation. The politicians responsible for that disastrous, illegal intervention should hang their heads in shame.
The situation in Syria was further exacerbated by those conditions and was ignited, as the resolution also highlights, by the plethora of dreadful abuses by the Assad regime, which themselves feed and fuel the conditions in which extremists can thrive. Those conditions have created a flood of refugees which is almost impossible to cope with, greater than the population of Scotland and threatening to trip the neighbouring countries into anarchy as well.
The resolution also takes account of the dreadful actions of the Islamic State, but in part 3, I believe, we indicate a reasonable way out. We must have a coherent strategy: a cohesive response is needed to coordinate all aspects of engagement. Commissioner, I was glad to hear your view, which you have expressed before, that the solution is political. The EU has cleaner hands than most in this discussion, and cleaner certainly than most of our Member States. We support you in your efforts."
Speaking after the vote Alyn said:
"I'm pleased the motion was given such a solid endorsement, because it is a comprehensive text with a lot of good ideas in it. The fight against IS is complex and must be taken forward on many fronts, and where some politicians seem to delude themselves this can be viewed as simply a military matter, I'm glad the clear majority of the Parliament agrees with us that there must be a political solution, as well as an immediate humanitarian response."