Syria

 

           Those who think the UK arming the rebels is a good idea need to persuade a reluctant country. It seems the government is no longer testing out  this idea so strongly.  Those who think missile attacks on Assad’s government are a good approach  need to explain how they could do this without causing more deaths of civilians, bystanders, human shields and others that the west should not wish to harm.

        Before Parliament broke up many Conservative MPs made clear in the Chamber and by signing a letter that no such actions should be taken before a proper Parliamentary debate and vote on the subject. The government agreed to this. That remains the view of many Conservative MPs. We do not like the brutal events in Syria any more than the government. We do need persuading that there is any military intervention which the UK could make which would make it better. The first instruction should be to do no harm, in a situation fraught with danger and with all too many armed groups in conflict.

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80 Comments

  1. ُEmad
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    So how will this outrageous situation in Syria end? How many people are displaced? How many people fled the country and are in refugee camps now? You still support the tyrant in Syria and give him green light to kill more. Stop the dictator. The Syrians deserve a better life.

    • Mark B
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      No ! No! No!

      It is not up to us to sort out their problems. The situation will end when one side wins. That is the way that these things work. Harsh, but true.

      No one in this country supports unelected dictators. Even European one’s

      Before you ask the ‘West’ to intervene, you might like to ask yourself why they are fighting. Saudia Arabia is no more of a free country than Syria. People in Syria are free to to worship who ever they like. Try opening a church in Mecca and see how far that gets you.

      This is a Middle Eastern and North African problem, not a Western one. Only those in the region should be the ones dealing with this.

      • zorro
        Posted August 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        I am quite frankly dismayed at the way our politicians are acting. I shall keep my thoughts on Hague to myself, save it to say I would have more respect for him if he was honest in all matters. Where is he getting his foreign policy advice from now that he no longer employs his special advisor, Christopher Myers.

        The man is totally disingenuous. Firstly he says that “It seems the Assad regime has something to hide. Why else have they not allowed the UN team to go there?”….Then he says that even if the Syrians allow the inspectors in (remember the site is in rebel held territory), the evidence will have been destroyed (a truly bizarre statement concerning alleged chemical warfare), and in any case Assad is guilty. He then says…“This is what we are focused on and we are working with countries all over the world to try to bring this about and to try to establish the truth to the satisfaction of the world about what is clearly a terrible atrocity.”……So does he have evidence or not?

        zorro

        • Hope
          Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

          Has the UK supported rebels and helped the escalation to date? It is none of this country’s business. Look at the mess in Iraq and Libya. Cameron will do whatever the US and Brussells tells him. Over the weekend it was reported heavy cuts through redundancies in senior military positions, quite odd when Cameron wants so much war. Is this why he relies on France so much and conditioning us to an EU military force?

      • Bob
        Posted August 26, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        Syria is a job for the U.N.

        We need to keep our powder dry to defend Gibraltar.

        • David Williams
          Posted August 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          I totally agree with Bob. Mr Redwood, please take note.

          • alan jutson
            Posted August 28, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

            Bob

            Agreed.

            We do not want or need, to be sucked into another conflict which does not affect us directly unless we are directed to as a minor PART of a UN mandate.

            We certainly do not want to be one of the main players WITHOUT a complete UN mandate, as is being suggested.
            How many times do we have to learn the same lesson.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    As you say – “The first instruction should be to do no harm, in a situation fraught with danger and with all too many armed groups in conflict.”

    The UK has done enough harm with pointless & totally counterproductive wars already. But Cameron has a history being 180 degrees out with his compass on most issues. Hopefully he can be restrained by wiser council.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 27, 2013 at 5:48 am | Permalink

      The train system will be overload in the next decade, so would pricing not be a fair system of rationing this like housing is. If you want to travel on train or on the roads in fact, then like living in central London this would be the only fair and sensible way of running a transport system would it not? Less spent on pointless roads in Scotland and more in central London. We await your reply.

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 27, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        Indeed.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 27, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          In a high rent low wage society? Indeed?

        • Bazman
          Posted August 28, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

          Will those unable to travel to work due to cost now become ‘the feckless’ or will they already be feckless for not having a job that pays them enough to travel to work. Or will they be feckless for not being able to afford a house near to work? Which one? No reply? Do you not understand my point?

  3. oldtimer
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Intervention by the UK would be more likely to worsen matters than improve them – that would be true both for Syria and the UK. The UK government should stick to diplomacy.

  4. william
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    The country most affected by military intervention, or not,in Syria is Israel.The US/UK/France alliance would do well to consult their democratically elected government.

  5. sm
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Sensible stuff.

    How can we help? not hinder peace and co-operation in a volatile region?

    We need a lot more than words from discredited mouthpieces. This is the cost of prior deceptions.

    This time we really do need UN resolutions and post that regional players to work out a plan.

    Please enlighten us on the strategic or defensive thinking behind the need for our direct military involvement.

  6. John B
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    How many enquiries on Iraq are we up to so that ”lessons can be learned”: what about the ongoing lesson in Afghanistan and that ”Arab Spring”?

    All that expensive education along the front benches, but as my grandma used to say, money can buy privilege but it can’t buy brains.

  7. Richard1
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Obama is an empty suit. The problem in Syria is Russia. Without Russian support the Syrian regime would not be able to do what is doing. Obama talks about ‘red lines’ and then debates missile strikes and arming rebels, which as you say may make a bad situation worse. Meanwhile he has chosen to prioritize catching Edward Snowdon the leaker over solving the Syrian crisis. Romney would have been much more clinical in his analysis and robust in action. Russia needs to feel real diplomatic pressure from the US and the West so they can work out its not worth backing these Syrian thugs. Full steam ahead on shale gas throughout the EU would be a good start.

  8. Duyfken
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    If the government were to participate in bombing Syria without authority from Parliament after a debate and vote on the subject, then this should be taken as so serious a contempt that the government should be driven from office.

  9. Bill
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Can anyone explain why Assad would use chemical weapons knowing he would immediately have crossed a ‘red line’ and therefore risk provoking international retaliation? Is Assad really in charge of his own forces?

  10. Romsey
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    There is no legal basis, in the form of a UN mandate, to arms the rebels in Syria however much one sympathises with the tragic circumstances they are in. Nor are their grounds for air strikes against Assad’s command & control structure which some newspapers have reported is being considered. Most of us were appalled when the US, Libyans and others financed IRA weapons procurement for use against UK soldiers in Northern Ireland. Why is this any different ? Moreover, I see no basis for bypassing parliament when the events in Syria have been in constant turmoil for such a long period of time. This apparent war mongering by the British & French Governments seems to be an unsightly popularity contest for US patronage & favour as the US has shown considerable reluctance to become directly involved in Muslim countries following its involvement in Iraq & Afgahistan. Intervening in Syria without a UN mandate also runs the very considerable risk of escalating an already tragic situation if it provokes a Russian backlash. The whole situation is fraught with danger & risk and it behaves this Gov, which has shown no compunction in cutting our defence capability to preserve Overseas Aid, Health & Education spending, to proceed with caution.

  11. zorro
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Well said John, well said…… It’s interesting that the fact that the Syrians have allowed the Inspectors to view this alleged chemical weapons strike, which is still in a place contested by the rebels, has led to the US and UK to say it doesn’t matter. They know who did it and are seeking to act now……I wonder how they can be so sure who did what when they are not on the ground?

    zorro

    • zorro
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      I see that John McCain has said that they are sure that the Syrian Army has used chemical weapons already. Really? Where and when? And what did the UN rep suggest last time….?

      zorro

  12. forthurst
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    There is a UN Inspection team in Damascus to investigate the alleged chemical weapons attacks which the ‘rebels’ claim were perpetrated by government forces. The government has offered the team full co-operation and a guarantee of personal safety; no such courtesies have been extended by the ‘rebels’, which ever faction might have been involved or whether one guarantee from any one group would have any value at the bank. It has now been reported that the UN team has been attacked by snipers representing those who are keen for the UN team not to do their work. Meanwhile, William Hague having announced that the British government believes that Assad was behind the alleged atrocity without any evidence to support his claim, is now suggesting that there may be no actual evidence to support his belief because the Syrian forces may have destroyed it.

    Those of us who are sceptical of Mr Hague’s claims would like to be given at least one strategic motive for Assad to attack civilians in an area outside Damascus where government forces are already overcoming the ‘rebels’; just one will do, William, just one, since on the other hand, the ‘rebels’ have been losing substantial ground over the last few months and are desperate for a Western intervention to turn the tide back, as are the neocons that control strategic policy at the Pentagon and the State department in the US, and are presumably also whispering poison into Hague’s ear.

    I do not wish my money to be used to kill indiscriminately, people towards whom I have no possible reasons for hostility; nor do I wish to see any more English lives put at risk in order to advance the wider strategic goals of a group whose relentless hostility towards the indigenous inhabitants of every country they have ever entered in significant numbers should be enough to give pause to all British statesmen who possess a backbone; sorry, William.

    • zorro
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      On the money forthurst

      zorro

    • Mark B
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Very well said.

      +1

    • zorro
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      I also see that Hague has said the following….“I know that some people in the world would like to say that this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria….. I think the chances of that are vanishingly small [that it was a conspiracy] and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.”

      Essentially, he is saying that if you don’t believe what he says, you are a ‘conspiracy theorist’……Pathetic.

      zorro

      • forthurst
        Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Perhaps Hague is so keen to get us involved that he is prepared to say anything to achieve that. The question would be why.

        Presumably he knows that Assad was supplied with anti-ship missiles by the Russians and also that Israel, which (sometimes ed) attack(s) any of its neighbours with impunity, (yet protests at ed) any attempt by them to arm themselves with the means of self-defence with S300s etc, claims to have destroyed a warehouse full of these anti-ship mssiles. Does Hague assume that Assad now has no means of retaliation against us should he wish to exercise his internationally recognised right of self-defence or does he hope for British losses in order to get us involved in a possible major conflagration involving the whole region on a issue which is of no concern to English people other than a desire to keep well out of it?

        On the other hand, is Hague, having seen the spectacular outcome from our lobbing cruise missiles at Libya where there is a complete breakdown in law and order with control exercised by armed militias, including al qaida, kidnapping and executing whomsoever the please, where little oil is leaving the country as the militias squabble over who has the right to impose export duties on the it, determined to inflict the same on Syria for reasons best known to himself.

  13. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The talk of chemical weapons and following events seem to have convinced Hague. I believe that Assad has agreed to an inspection by the UN for evidence of chemical weapons. I have read that there is also a possibility that the US, France and UK will undertake a bombing blitz if there is real evidence. Hague has commented that the evidence could be removed and Assad is blaming the terrorists for these attacks. Which ever is the truth innocent people are going to be harmed with intervention; as if enough cruelty hasn’t been shown already.

  14. pipesmoker
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Terrible it is but I retain a healthy scepticism about who is responsible. There are those who would like to see the major powers get involved and I would not be too they would be too particular who they killed in the process.

  15. Douglas Carter
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    John – I spent time almost exactly thirty years ago in the Royal Marines deployed in association with UN Peacekeeping duties in Lebanon. The British involvement was fairly limited in scope but – within its limited scope at the time – proved quite successful. The parent Government which deployed us had a fairly well-developed sense of international proficiency.

    I see no scope in the current matters surrounding Syria for any form of involvement or intervention which could not lead to a ragged impasse. The UK has shed far too much of its serving capability and potential to sustain any form of campaign which would end with UK forces able to remain in theatre and capable of influencing an armistice, let alone controlling that process to end in a satisfactory and lasting peace.

    The USA has no appetite for a lengthy ground involvement and France – talking of experience serving in Lebanon, the lead-up to the UN-sponsored relief of Kuwait and in Bosnia – is not an ally I would wish upon anybody.

    We – the UK – should have no involvement in any respect. Full stop. This is a matter which is starkly signposted ‘Large and bottomless Pandoras Box’ in glowing, glittery text.

    However, in the most shameless and deeply cynical terms, this is clearly a matter that Mr. Cameron might hand over to the EU. That administrative body has longed for an important regional influential crisis to prove its worth against and this one would be ideal.

    I would be happy for Mr. Cameron to agree – under EU auspices – to use Royal Navy assault ships to successfully land German, Austrian and Belgian land forces to carry their campaign inland and establish a glowing EU-led triumph.

    And back in the real world, it would serve to demonstrate with unambiguous savagery the absolute incoherent stasis within the EU – that it’s alleged world role is nothing but a tragic vanity. Twenty-seven different ways of doing nothing pragmatically.

    I feel for the innocent Syrians doomed to suffer here – but that’s not a good enough reason for letting my government make the region worse for them.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Douglas, I agree with every word of your quite brilliant post, which has the advantage of plainly being written by someone with experience and expertise. Our Government should ideally be sent copies to read and act upon.
      Ditto of course Mr Redwoods equally excellent article.

  16. Sue
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Syria (and other Arab countries) who are in the process of revolution should be being monitored by the UN. Hague has absolutely NO business sticking his nose in on our behalf. We are sick of losing our families and paying for wars that have absolutely nothing to do with us! Hasn’t he learnt anything? We end up spending millions, killing thousands and we leave the country and their people, no better off. We should never sell arms to these countries, its a completely immoral thing to do, considering we know what might eventually happen.

    We should not get involved unless directed as part of an international effort sanctioned by the UN. After all, isn’t that what we are funding the UN for? To make these difficult decisions and to only resort to force when all diplomatic paths have been taken.

  17. Kenneth
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    There is a powerful lobby coming from the BBC which is increasingly telling us that “something must be done”.

    The BBC has always supported the idea that action must be sanctioned by the U.N. However, the recent noises coming from the BBC are that the “U.N. is impotent” & etc.

    Watch out: the BBC is extremely powerful and tends to get its way.

  18. matthu
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    The Telegraph tells us: “Mr Hague risked angering MPs by suggesting that it may not be necessary to recall Parliament prior to launching military action.”

    So without being able to tell us which side is actually responsible for having used chemical weapons, nor presumably which side is employing snipers to frustrate UN inspectors who have been trying to find out, Hague tells us that he is prepared to launch military action without further reference to parliament.

    In making this type of statement, the government is simply demonstrating once again how much they prefer these difficult decisions to be made without having to justify them to the electorate.

    For the same reason, wherever possible they prefer major decisions (over e.g. energy) to become regarded as EU competencies so that once again policy need not be laid before the electorate. It’s paying lip service to democracy.

    Unfortunately, MPs do not have a good record of holding government ministers to account. Not over foreign policy, not over energy: they all form part of this collective madness that JR has now acknowledged exists.

    The madmen are running the asylum and it is a collective madness I cannot support.

  19. Leslie Singleton
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Were I a Syrian I wouldn’t think much of anyone sending in cruise missiles to help us.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted August 27, 2013 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      Postscript–Is the idea of lobbing in cruise missiles to punish past actions or (even more daft) to try to prevent future ones? Now that Assad is tarred with already having used chemicals, sending in cruise missiles I would have thought would make it all but certain he will use them again, possibly in much larger quantities (though Heaven forfend) –to go down fighting as he might see it, indeed anything rather than give in to the West. The chances of missiles taking out Assad are zero of course. When you factor in that we aren’t even totally sure who used the chemicals then verily we are heading for trouble. It may very well not be Assad himself personally but some subgroup (on his side or otherwise), witness the shots fired at the UN Inspectors. Remember these people could not care less about the UN. I am not sure I care much myself.

  20. Cheshire Girl
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I don’t for the life of me understand why we have to get involved at all. It seems to be one thing after another. Sad though it is, we can’t solve all the problems in the world, and goodness knows we have enough troubles to sort out here. I think we should stay out of Syria . The patience of the voting public is being stretched to the limit, and I’m afraid this will be reflected in the 2015 election.

  21. Martin Ryder
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with you.

    There is no point in outsiders intervening unless they can be sure that they are doing much more good than they are harm; and there is no way that anyone can be sure of this. The situation is terrible and the plight of the people of Syria is appalling but we must let the people of Syria and their neighbours sort this out themselves.

    We should restrict our efforts to UN led humanitarian assistance to the refugees. This aid should be in the region and the refugees should remain in Moslem countries until they can go home. This will give local governments an additional incentive to sort the problem out themselves, rather than weakly looking to the much maligned western powers to do the job for them.

  22. Mark
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, we should keep out of these dangerous deep waters. The Russians seem to want to own the problem, so tell them we’ll be watching to see how they do. Better them than the next bunch of extremists.

  23. Nina Andreeva
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    JR thanks for putting the lives of the members of our armed forces first before what the chickenhawk foreign secretary wants to do.

  24. John Eustace
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I agree completely. Why anyone thinks that us killing more Syrians is going to help anything is beyond me. “Diplomacy has failed” so let’s kill someone?
    The UK Prime Minister has unusual power to commit the nation to military operations without consulting Parliament. I expect the Chilcot Iraq inquiry will touch on this and perhaps some changes may follow. Meanwhile we need you and your fellow MP’s to keep the Government from further madness.

  25. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately we have two belligerent warmongers in Cameron and Hague who give the impression that they are determined to attack Syria and care nothing for anyone else’s opinion let alone the consent of Parliament. If they do defy Parliament over this what will you do?

    Reply Parliament appears to be ready to insist on making this decision. There are enough Conservative opponents of action to stop it, if Labour too are against. If Labour want it then it will be the will of Parliament.

    • Horatio McSherry
      Posted August 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      John,

      If Parliament votes against action (let’s hope, eh?), with the vote being legally non-binding, what happens if the government ignore the vote and enter into military action?

      Reply I do not believe the government could ignore a vote against military action by the Commons. Mr Cameron has to win this vote if he wishes to undertake military intervention. It may all hinge on the votes of the Labour party, given the likely number of Conservatives against any action.

  26. Max Dunbar
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    The government overtly arming the rebels is a bad idea.
    It’s probably being done at the moment covertly anyway so what is the point of wringing ones hands about it? As long as a profit is being made they can blow each other to pieces – preferably contained in Syria and not on the streets of London. UK taxpayer-funded mayhem on the streets of Damascus or anywhere else in Syria makes the British public feel queasy. No doubt the price of oil will go up if the West stokes things up. Does anything else really matter?

  27. lojolondon
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,

    I am with you, this is a terrible idea.
    1. Obama opened the door to this whole scam by announcing that use of chemical weapons would be a red line and that the USA would intervene if they were used.
    2. Since that foolish announcement there have been a few alleged Sarin attacks.
    3. Each one (might? ed) have been carried out by the FSA, as they tried to enable the eager USA and UK to have a ‘reason’ to enter the war.
    4. The West has been extremely duplicitous, because they did not respond to these previous attacks by attacking (non government forces who may have released these chemcials -ed).
    5. Assad is winning, he is driving the FSA back on every front. He is taking over Damascus. If he was going to use chemical weapons, we can surmise he would use them on enemy soldiers, not passive civilians. After two years of conventional warfare, which he is winning, would he really risk the wrath of the West and their entry into the war by gassing civilians?? This entirely defies logic.
    6. There is a strong feeling that the USA / UK want to engage Assad to remove the only nation in the Middle East that is friendly with Iran, no more and no less.
    7. The whole of the UK is totally opposed to another war, it is less popular a subject than HS2 if that were possible, the coalition will engage in this escapade at their peril.

  28. Pleb
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t you leave these decisions to Brussels?

  29. John
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Well said John, the government should never take the country to war against the will of the people. Can anyone guarantee that if an arms dump is hit by our missiles this will not release chemical agents that might kill civilians? I doubt it.
    As an ex-Conservative voter I feel that David Cameron has been on the wrong side of every issue that matters to me and my family. Please do not let him demonstrate another reason why I should not vote Conservative.

  30. English Pensioner
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    There is no certainty that if Assad is killed or forced out there will be any change. It is a sectarian war, and nasty as he is, Assad had kept the sects apart and maintained relative peace until the “Arab spring”. Whilst we might not like dictators or their brutality, it seems to be the only method by which peace can be maintained in tribal countries like this. We should not intervene in any way, if we do we will incur the wrath of all sides and the powers behind them. We should limit our activities to trying to provide assistance to the refugees, and to those countries having to cope with the refugees, which to me would be a sensible and worthwhile use of our foreign aid budget.

  31. Dan
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    ..and if Syria is attacked without Parliament’s assent, where stand you Mr Redwood….
    Would this be yet another situation where you and a portion of your party would stamp its feet but remain within the fold no matter?
    …or would you have the cojones to finally leave a party which clearly has little respect for your opinion.

    Reply I do not expect the government to ignore the will of Parliament on this matter.

    • Pleb
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      John, this will be up to Brussels surely, as they are now in charge of Region 6 EUSSR.
      Not your worry my boy, you can concentrate on cycle lanes.

      Reply Ironically this is one thing we can still do for ourselves. Not sure I can do anything about cycle lanes.

  32. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    If we had a civil uprising in this country would the Syrian regime feel it was their job to ‘help the rebels’?

    Can any good come from this? Intractable questions. I am glad I am not the one who has to make the decisions. I don’t envy David Cameron that responsibility.

  33. Bert Young
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Your strong view on the need to debate this issue in Parliament is encouraging . We should not get involved in a tribal matter that has continued over centuries and is most likely going to go on for a few more .

  34. Normandee
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    This will be a completely different affair to the previous “Arab Spring” uprisings because of the involvement of the Russians. Surely I cannot be the only one who can see that Russia is trying to build a swathe of influence between it on the Black Sea and Iran with Mediterranean access. This explains it’s interest in Greece and Cyprus, and the continued growth in Russo/Turkish relations. Syria is a vital link in that, and Russia will not give up on whatever long term plans it has for the Eastern Med. With Syria’s influence in Lebanon and Iran’s in Iraq,and Syria the chain is almost complete.

    • zorro
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      So that is all the good that came out of our involvement in Iraq. Your thesis on Russia is interesting, but, to be honest, I see no threat whatsoever from Russia.

      zorro

    • Mark
      Posted August 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Russia is also interested in insulating itself from militant Islam. It already has extensive experience of that – Beslan, Chechnya, terrorists in Moscow itself as just a few recent examples.

  35. gareth
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    John There’s a deafening silence from the Arab League, whose problem this is primarily. It is not the UK’s role to intervene militarily here, experience shows that this just generates anti UK fanaticism. Cameron has cut the UK forces to the bone, how many reserves would he need to call on for this conflict, and how much would he plan to spend that he hasn’t got?

  36. Anonymous
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Do we have proof that Assad is guilty of this atrocity ?

    Though I admit, it would be just as worrying that a terrorist organisation has this devastating capability. We have to consider that an Al Qaeda tactic could be to provoke global conflict.

    • zorro
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      I can think of a number of actors who would be interested in stoking up trouble in Syria due to their investment in supporting the rebel side….

      zorro

  37. fkc
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Please can we stand back from immediate action regarding Syria. Think of Iraq and Afghanistan. What have those conflicts gained for the people of those countries and us? We should let the UN decide what is best and advisable. We should not keep entering countries in the name of democracy. They have their own ways and their own methods of gaining democracy.

  38. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Send in a gunboat!

    Sorry that should read “send in the one remaining gunboat…”

  39. JimF
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m no historian or military expert, but willing to analyse and take note of those who are.
    There are questions which need answers before any action is taken in this foreign matter.

    1 Where is the true justification for intervention? It is either Russian involvement in the area or apparently gassed civilians. In the first case it appears to me that more diplomatic effort is required to resolve any dispute and in the second more evidence is needed as to who committed any atrocities which might have taken place. Flying cruise missiles solve neither.

    2 As on other issues, both you and your followers on this site appear to be at odds with government policy. You are one of the foundation stones propping up this government, which is at odds with so many of the wise, thinking people here on so many issues. There has to be a time when wise minds across the Country actually overturn this Westminster bubble syndrome, where the Milibands/Camerons/Cleggs/Hagues all appear to be in one mind, diametrically opposed to the majority of the electorate.

    On this issue, at least, you and many of your posters above seem spot-on. Let’s see what a group of socialist American, UK and French political leaders make of the situation.

  40. Robert Taggart
    Posted August 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Blighty should stay out of Syria – period – preferably.

    As for all this talk elsewhere about a recall of Parliament – on account of this matter – NO.
    What good would such a recall do ? – other than to confirm the continued delusion of grandeur – upon our political class.

  41. Martyn G
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Some are saying that the international circumstances, international involvements and interests are disturbingly similar to those that triggered WWI. I tend to agree with that but because of the huge improvements in weaponry and delivery methods, if the Syria situation developed along similar lines anything we do to add fuel to the fire has the potential to become truly disastrous, perhaps even involving us in global conflict for little reason other than the stupidity of our political leaders who want to strut the world stage to demonstrate their own importance.
    If we are to become involved in any way with this sad issue it should be strictly limited to humanitarian support in all possible ways of the refugees – i.e. medical, food and other resources for those who have been displaced by the current madness and are currently without hope of a secure future. It is beyond belief that Mr H and, I assume, Mr C are considering bypassing the HoP on this issue. They need reigning in, and soon.

  42. lojolondon
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Hi John,

    I think this article in the Wall Street Journal gives some unreported background to the agitation behind the decisions that are being made by US / UK –

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323423804579024452583045962.html

    Note : again, the BBC is nowhere when you need insight into world affairs, especially if the information does not fit their message

    • R.T.G.
      Posted August 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Seeks to quote an unverified source suggesting the chemical weapons were not used by the Assad regime.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 28, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      SKY and the rest too? No reply lojo? What again?! What does this tell us of the bias and bigotry of your one posts propaganda hits.

  43. Stephen O
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    The situation in Syria seems nastier and messier than in Iraq, Libya, Egypt or any other country in that region.

    I do not think we can influence events in a positive way, with any certainty, by any action we take. But taking action means we take a share of the responsibility without any real control on the consequences.

    I imagine that those inside the government reading reports of the horrors taking place and talking to their counterparts in other governments feel a great deal of pressure to act. However, I hope that JR and other MPs in sufficient numbers can convince them they do not have the support to involve this country in Syria’s troubles and any action they seek to take will do no good.

  44. julian
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s strange how the US and UK both seem to think that its their business to pitch in to resolve these type of conflicts. Don’t see how it’s in our interests to do anything other than support whoever is opposing al qaeda.

  45. Wokingham Mums
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Reasons why Cameron should NOT take us military into Syria.
    It is none of our business and is a Middle East problem
    We don’t know the facts or know who the good guys are. Things are not always black and white
    We can’t afford it and we are not military prepared or have the equipment for it
    The Middle East will erupt and unit against us.
    Terrorist support and activities in the UK will increase
    The British people do not want it and will not support it
    British politics will be harmed
    The Conservatives will lose the next election.

  46. MajorFrustration
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Why us? this is an Arab/Muslim issue yet they do not seem to have the balls to get involved and sort it out. The UK does not have the money to resolve this issue and our armed forces need a break – but its the political class that are seeking the glory but fail to understand that the voters what know of it. But come the election and we are in the middle of a full scale war then its goodbye Dave.

  47. Bryan
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    A bit late in the day for this but now that Mr Blair agrees that the UK should help bomb and kill many more Syrians in the name of ‘we are here to help you and stop the killing’ then I am afraid as a contributor said above – the lunatics are back running the asylum.

    Sunni v Shia, Shia v Sunni? Logic passes me by!

    • Mark B
      Posted August 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      And to think, he is suppose to be a ‘Peace Envoy’ for that region.

      Mind boggles.

  48. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    We can’t send troops in. And whom do we arm; there are two distinct opposition groups. We could resort to Bill Clinton style diplomacy and fire off a few cruise missiles at Assad. Or we could facilitate the USA to make the sort of strike that Reagan made against Gaddafi. But what would the Russian reaction be?

    What’s driving Russia’s attitude and policy? Could it be an acute resentment towards the USA, Al Quaeda and Sunni Muslims generally as a result of the defeat they received in Afghanistan – a little bit of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”? Thirty years is a long time to harbour a grudge.

    Reply The Russians think the replacement for Assad could be worse than Assad. They are also concerned in case the chemcial attack was by those who want to stoke the conflict rather than the Assad regime.

  49. davidb
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I think this whole affair is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. We are being manipulated to support the Saudi side. If it was in the interest of “the West” for any side to “win” in Syria, would Israel not be helping that side? Yet aside from stopping some weapons shipments that would alter Israel’s military position, they appear to sit on the sidelines.

    We should look to our own interest first. I see none in Syria. It was a French protectorate was it not after the Ottoman collapse? I could see Turkey or France perhaps having interests, but it has nothing whatever to do with us.

    Indeed of all the conflicts I have seen in my lifetime, I strongly supported only the recapture of our territory in the South Atlantic. Like your commentator above, I agree we have an interest in Gibralter, not Syria. As to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Bosnia, it seems to me we squandered a lot of blood and treasure for little gain – save perhaps in the net worth of some of our politicians.

  50. Monty
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    We should have learned by now, never to intervene on the side of islamist jihadists. And this is another example of a conflict in which we want both sides to lose. But crucially, we should do nothing to assist European Al Qaeda aligned militants who have traveled to Syria to get weapons training and jihad experience.
    Now why would any of us want to to stop Bashar Assad killing the terrorists who would otherwise come back to the UK, and unleash their newfound expertise on our own civilians? Our schoolchildren?
    Our Government is there to protect us, the British, first second and last. We have every right to decline to submit any of our skin, into the middle east game. Most especially, on the wrong blimmin side.

  51. John Wrake
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood,

    I trust that you will bend all your efforts and use all your influence to help prevent any involvement in the Syrian conflict by this country, other than humanitarian assistance to refugees who have fled Syria.

    There appears to be an unholy alliance between Blair, Obama, Cameron and Hollande, aimed at military action in Syria. The identity of the proponents of that course should be enough to mark it as disastrous.

    John Wrake.

  52. theyenguy
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    You write, Before Parliament broke up many Conservative MPs made clear in the Chamber and by signing a letter that no such actions should be taken before a proper Parliamentary debate and vote on the subject.

    I respond that God, looking down the hallways of time, made it clear in the writings of Father Abraham, and Prophet Daniel, that Great Britain and the US would serve as two iron legs of Liberalism intervention in the affairs of mankind; and in the writings of the Prophet Isaiah and the Prophet Ezekiel, that two global wars would usher in the end times.

    The Bible is clear that Syria’s capital Damascus will be utterly, absolutely, and totally destroyed, that is obliterated, per Isaiah 17. Whether this is done by the USA, UK, the EU, or Israel, the Bible does not specify, but it will happen. It was ordained in eternity past that the Syrian War of Isaiah 17:1-11 will precede the Ezekiel 38-39 War.

    This just as it was ordained that the UK become a global power as a multitude of nations, and the US follow it to be the leading world power, as promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:2, Genesis 17:4-6, and Genesis 48:16.

    Robert Phillips, writes of the Liberalism’s Anglo American Empire foretold in Bible prophecy in article, Ephraim and Manasseh, To fully appreciate the significance of the blessing of Joseph’s two sons, we need to understand some background with regard to both history and prophecy in relation to Israel. The promises to the tribes of Israel were specifically reserved for the “last days”, or “Christian era”, Genesis 49:1, Hebrews 1:1,2.

    Britain’s Ephraim-Mandate is evident in that it was Britain that colonised and built the world’s greatest Empire, and established its Commonwealth of Nations. It was Britain that led the way in Industrial Revolution. Britain was in the forefront of many major technological and engineering developments, including building the first computer.

    In fact, there have sadly been attempts to re-write history, in order to play-down or ignore the significant role played by Britain, in major technological, scientific and military achievements.

    For a number of years America has been enjoying Manasseh’s portion of the birthright.

    Some believe that, although Jacob appointed his younger brother Ephraim as Israel’s firstborn, this did not prejudice Manasseh’s inheritance as Joseph’s firstborn. In other words, whilst Ephraim would inherit the primary Israel birthright, territorial blessing and monarchy, Manasseh would receive the double-portion of Joseph’s material legacy of wealth and power. As long as Britain remained predominant, America could never enjoy Joseph’s prominence of wealth and power. This may explain why Britain had to diminish, for a time, so America could receive Manasseh’s inheritance, becoming, in his season, prevalent in material blessings.

    I continue, and conclude, just as it was ordained that out of these two iron pillars, or better said, two iron legs of hegemonic power, that a ten toed kingdom of regional governance, will rule mankind, as foretold in the Statue of Empires prophecy in Daniel 2:25-45.

  53. Mike
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    It would be interesting to know the shelf life remaining on the BGM109 Tomahawks that we ordered in 2003… 65 of them in total.

    I’m not sure how many remain however if the Prime minister is suggesting we use force, purely so that we are not out of pocket, then I think the public should know….

  54. John Eustace
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    It seems we are to intervene in support of Al Qaida affiliated rebels?
    If this is true then I hope Mr. Cameron has a good explanation as to why we are now on their side. I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to explain it to service personnel who were injured in Afghanistan or the bereaved families of those who lost their lives.

    All of that GCHQ/NSA spying and it seems our Government are the ones backing Al Qaida. Truly you could not make it up.

  55. Neil craig
    Posted August 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    The Russians have noticed that 3 videos showing the aftermath of the attack were posted by the opposition on Youtube on 20th August though Assad is alleged to have carried out the attack on 21st August.

    This has had effectively no coverage by our “free press” but does seem difficult to dispute as evidence that it is a false flag operation by the monsters we are supporting.

    Very much the same as happened repeatedly in our wars to help (some?ed) assorted former Nazis in Yugoslavia.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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