Ian Roache recently graduated from Dundee University with a Masters Degree in International Security. His specialist area is the Middle East. Here is his analysis after MPs approved extending air strikes to Syria:
The air strikes have been going on for nine months now.
The coalition’s military response was given a macho name Operation Decisive Storm that changed into the softer-sounding Operation Restoring Hope just a few weeks down the line.
Whatever the action is called, though, it is impossible to mask the truth of war.
The United Nations’ latest estimate is 5,700 civilians dead, specifically due to the conflict.
There is a humanitarian crisis on a horrific scale, with 14 million people (roughly equivalent to the combined population of London, Paris and Berlin) without access to basic healthcare.
Disease and hunger is rampant, while 1.8 million children have been unable to attend school since the bombing started.
The human cost is the greatest cost but there are other consequences, too, with hospitals, aid centres and even a UNESCO world heritage site the old centre of the capital city struck from the air.
This is the story of Yemen, a country in the Middle East that has had bombs dropped on it by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council allies since March.
The objective is to topple the Houthis, a Shia Muslim group from the north of the country that seized control of the capital city Sanaa in September 2014.
As Saudi, the region’s Sunni powerhouse, does battle with what it sees as Iranian-supporting Shias on its southern border, this brutal proxy-war has been barely noticed in the west.
However, as the United Kingdom joins in with air attacks in Syria against Islamic State or Da’esh, the term now favoured by Prime Minister David Cameron there is a warning from the chaos coalition bombs have brought to Yemen.
If you credit the Saudi-led coalition with an intention of avoiding civilian targets, you are nevertheless left with the fact that bombs have hit civilian targets.
In an aerial assault on any built-up area, for example the IS “capital” of Raqqa in Syria – a city with a similar population to Aberdeen – there will be innocents caught in the crossfire.
It would be ludicrous to label everyone in Raqqa as terrorists or even terrorist sympathisers (another term favoured by the PM) and IS members have already blended into the local population. They are not out on the streets waving black flags asking to be hit from above.
Those supporting the UK air strikes should ask themselves if there are sufficient intelligence resources on the ground, in the skies or even cyberspace capable of separating the terrorists from shopkeepers and office workers.
If there is not then the consequences will be, just as in Yemen, civilians killed by air strikes. That may be a price worth paying for some, as the “war on terror” hitches a ride in British jets.
However, with this action should come a realisation and acceptance that it will not just be IS murderers who are hit.
The horrors of Paris, London, Madrid, Mumbai, New York, Kabul, Beirut, Baghdad, Sharm el-Sheikh, Port El Kantaoui in Tunisia, Riyadh and Sanaa (too many others can be added to the list) remind us that the fight against terrorists and their supporters is a noble and necessary one.
As Yemen has shown only too clearly, though, air strikes have deadly consequences for ordinary people who live in targeted areas.
The Houthis, meanwhile, remain in power in Sanaa nine months after the first Saudi bomb fell on Yemen, while IS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula grow in strength.
Terrorism has survived the bombing.