[By Lara Keller Last Updated 6th June 2017]
God save us. God save Syria.
Been watching UK’s BBC Newsnight coverage (13/12/16) of the fall of Aleppo. The comments of the speakers ex ambassador Sir Tony Breton and the Times columnist Matthew Parris nailed for me the elitist, myopic, inhumane and neo-racism of the Western establishment. They also managed to sound just like the elitist, inhumane, dogmatic hard-left in the West. I can see how (but can never sympathise with) those people who turn to violent Islamic extremism.
Breton was UK ambassador to Russia. He says Putin could see a choice between Assad and Islamism (assume he always means extremist Islamism) in Syria and choose Assad. He says the backbone of the Syrian Opposition is at its core Islamist, and if they had won would have set up an extremist Islamist government. According to Breton all Western intervention in the Middle East must make things worse, he cites Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria.
Apparently the region must sort out its own problems. This is utterly impossible as “people power” means nothing when up against dictatorships with advanced weaponry. As Libya and Tunisia show even when the dictator goes, there is a strong counter revolution against Arab democracy lead by the fabulously well-resourced Sunni monarchies to stop the rebuilding of economies and disrupt security.
Then there is bloody smug Matthew Parris. According to him the West picked the wrong side in Syria, we did not know who the rebels were and what type of government they would form. We should have stood back. Assad was in a stronger position than the West understood. No one has told him that the West has stood back, and this allowed Iran and Russia to fill the gap. This is a so called British journalist.
According to Parris there is a limit to what the West can do, it is not our fight, and getting involved would involve attacking the Russian military. He says it is better that Assad wins in Aleppo, and I assume he would extend this argument to all Syria.
No one has told him about the 45+ years of brutal oppressive Assad government. That the Assad Clique controls a country in which most Syrians do not exist, and inequality rises year by year. He has not registered that millions of Syrians have been plunged into poverty, hunger, siege or exile; 100,000s killed and 10,000s tortured to death, almost all by the bloody Assad regime or its allies. He does not register the incredible courage of a people who stood against a regime that had ruled for 40 years by the use of systematic torture.
What conditions would Breton and Parris accept for providing adequate support to an uprising against a brutal dictatorship? Should also add all in the name of extending democracy to a region bordering Europe. According to Breton there must be a “clear ability” to form a democratic government, with he suggests little outside help. Otherwise “do not get involved”.
Look, the Syrian Opposition are the people of Syria, not the people holding the weapons. That is obvious. Islam is the religion of the region, and surprisingly many people want its principles to influence future governments, this does not make them Islamist extremists. For fuck sake when you are up against the advanced Assad war machine backed for decades by advanced weapons from the Russians, you need belief, you need belief in God. That is not a crime.
There are some Islamist extremists, just as there were or are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia …. Because they get funding, and they get funding because the Sunni monarchies and Shia clerics have oil resources to throw at them. The reason is these elites do not want democracy or representative government of any type in the Middle East. These extremists exist in the climate of dictatorships with advanced weapons, a world that could not careless and having to fight against incredible odds. In other words they are a product of deep despair, anger and frustration.
Supporting the Syrian Opposition with weapons to fight Assad and his foreign militias is possible. The armed Syrian Opposition has the advantage that they are almost all Syrians fighting for their homeland. Most of those fighting for Assad are Shiite militias from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan and even Yemen. Assad relies on the Russians for an air-force and military supplies.
It is possible to provide consequences for the Assad military machine when war crimes are committed by Assad gangs, his allies or the Russians. This can be done by missile attack from beyond Syria’s borders. There is no need to engage Russian forces directly.
It is possible to supply adequate weapons to armed Syrian Opposition to defeat Assad gangs on the ground. It is possible to provide air defence systems to the opposition, to at least prevent helicopter and low level aircraft attacks. These weapons depend on sophisticated and vulnerable electronics to be effective. They can and have been made time and or GPS location dependent.
Providing supplies to the Syrian Opposition to build security of all types (military, food, shelter, medical) gives a government legitimacy, and enables a central leadership to create a control structure. Crisis is not inevitable, it can be fought by empowering Syrians to sort out their own problems.
So most of the crap spouted by Breton and Parris falls away. The real reason why the elites in the West do not want to get involved in Syria, is that they cannot see the point, even if a representative government replaces Assad.
The elites in the West can live with the crushing of the Syrian people. Refugees can always been turned away by building bigger fences. The increased number of extreme Islamists caused by the betrayal of Syria, may kill some Westerners, but this can be dealt with by limiting people’s rights, more of a police state, exactly what elites want to keep down the discontent about rising inequality and crises of a debt not redistribution driven economy.
The truth is that Putin has an expansionist agenda. In the West the rising far-right are waiting to take power under the disguise of populism. The very elites who smugly watch as Syria is mown down are not immune and neither are we. We the millions of people who live with hard fought rights from the past in the West, but who are now indifferent to the spirit of democracy.
All it takes is a Trump presidency this year to be followed by a Le Pen presidency next year. God save us. God save Syria.