Until There Is A Serious Strategy Of Engagement And Negotiation To Bring About Transition We Will Not Defeat ISIL

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): As a former Minister with responsibility for the middle east, may I express my disappointment at the Foreign Secretary’s failure to answer the pertinent questions put by the shadow Foreign Secretary? In particular, does not the situation around Kobane symbolise the complete failure of this Government’s policy towards dealing with Syria and the wider conflict that it has spawned around ISIL? The truth is that the Turkish Government are unwilling to intervene to stop ISIL—its tanks are literally parked looking down at Kobane—until Assad has gone. Assad is not going to go, however much we all want him to, because he has too much firepower standing behind him, including the Russians and the Iranians. Until there is a serious strategy of engagement and negotiation to bring about the transition, we will continue to pursue this futile policy and we will not be able to defeat ISIL. Does he not agree?

Mr Hammond: The right hon. Gentleman says that he speaks as a former Minister with responsibility for the middle east, so he will know, perhaps better than most, the complexity of this area. We can only guess at the complex motives and motivations of Turkey in its individual actions, but I am not sure that his analysis of why the Turks have not intervened in Kobane is correct. Frankly, I think this has more to do with intra-Kurdish politics than it has to do with the regime in Damascus, but it is a complex situation. There are many different conflicts wrapped up within this overall battle, many of them deeply historic and with very complex roots.

In the debate a couple of weeks ago on intervention in Iraq, the right hon. Gentleman made very clear, to his credit, his view that we should be further forward- leaning still—that we should be prepared to intervene in Syria. What I would be very interested to hear, and did not hear from the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman’s speech, is an indication whether that is now the Opposition’s view.