On the front line in Kurdistan

Henry Smith MP article, Crawley Observer, 25 November 2015

A little over a week ago, I returned from an insightful trip from Iraqi Kurdistan, where I spent time on the front line in the fight against ISIS/Daesh.

I can report that the Peshmerga soldiers I met, as well as families, communities and refugees I sat down with, appreciate the support of RAF air support in helping them counter terror and extremism.

The work of the UK is having an effect; in terms of air cover, as well as almost £60 million in humanitarian aid supporting people across Iraq who have fled from the evil they face.

ISIS/Daesh know they are losing and so are lashing out. As the attacks in Paris went to highlight, they are a totalitarian death cult who have shown that they do not have any regard for human life. We cannot reason with such an ideology.

Late last week, the UN Security Council unanimously backed action against ISIS/Daesh in both Syria and Iraq, as well as reiterating its determination to secure a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

It is poignant to note that France has been targeted in this way, in spite of its fierce and unrelenting opposition to the Second Gulf War.

One of the most striking aspects of my trip was hearing from Kurdistani soldiers, telling myself and other British MPs that they are winning the fight against ISIS/Daesh.

To see the black ISIS/Daesh flags on the front line was a visual reminder of the danger that the Peshmerga soldiers are confronting – and beating.

I want to bring the message home that while they like to portray themselves as all-powerful, on the ground ISIS/Daesh are being pushed back.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister stood alongside President Hollande in Paris, and said, ‘We have shown our firm resolve and together we will destroy this evil threat. Nous sommes solidaires avec vous.’

This sentiment will be at the forefront of my thoughts when the Prime Minister comes to the House of Commons to set out the case for taking action against ISIS/Daesh in the coming days. The terrorists respect no boundaries so neither should we in defeating them.