TRANSCRIPT OF KATE GERBEAU INTERVIEW WITH JULIAN LEWIS MP, CHAIRMAN OF THE DEFENCE SELECT COMMITTEE
Forces TV News Channel – 8 October 2019
Kate Gerbeau: Well, Dr Julian Lewis is Chair of the Defence Select Committee and joins me from Westminster. Dr Lewis, how concerned should the UK be about the US withdrawing these troops?
Dr Julian Lewis: They should be extremely concerned, and that was made very clear in the course of all the contributions following the Urgent Question in Parliament on this subject.
Ms Gerbeau: We have heard various predictions on the possible consequences – from a resurgence of IS, to the Kurds turning to Russia and Syria as their guarantors. Is the US making a massive strategic mistake here?
Dr Lewis: Well, we are assuming, of course, that President Trump is going to persevere with what appears to be sending a green light to Islamist-led Turkey that they can go ahead and impose their will inside the Syrian border. But all the signs are, I think, that he is beginning now to realise that he may have stepped a little bit beyond where it’s sensible for him to go, and he is certainly beginning to make noises now about not bringing about such a dreadful scenario.
For example, all these IS fighters that have been captured: what would happen to them – they are under Kurdish control at the moment. If the Kurds found themselves with their backs to the wall, fighting for their lives, who would keep those people prisoner? What would happen to them, if they ceased to be held in confinement of some sort? They would be back in play instantly. What would you do, if you were the Kurds – if you were the people who had been praised to the skies by America and the United Kingdom? Let’s be frank about it: they were the only reliable allies – for all the talk, years ago, about “70,000 moderate fighters” – in Syria.
Apart from the Kurds, the only main opposition to the Assad regime were Islamist organisations that were completely unacceptable to us. And what would be the attitude towards the United Kingdom or the United States, if we allowed our main allies who supplied the boots on the ground in theatre — and in support of whom we conducted our air campaign – if we allowed them to be massacred at the end of all this? This really is something on a par with a sort of treachery that happened in 1944 when Stalin gave Hitler the green light to put down the Warsaw Uprising. It’s disgraceful, if it happens, but I’m hopeful that it won’t.