Syria

Not so long ago the Coalition government wanted us to vote for a war against President Assad of Syria. They were right that he is an unpleasant dictator, using excess force against his own citizens and failing to unite his country behind him. Some of us declined to support, on the grounds that many of Assad’s enemies were also people of violence, unlikely to bring good and fair government to the citizens of Syria. We did not wish to help bring down Assad by force, only to see something worse take his place. Without a strong moderate opposition and a winning political strategy for after the bombing it was difficult to endorse military action.

Now we read that the USA is thinking of co-operating with Russia, a power traditionally friendly to Assad and an opponent of extreme ISIL and related factions who oppose the Syrian regime. Mr Cameron says he still wishes to see Assad replaced if the west intervenes more on  the side of the current Syrian government against the ISIL and related insurgency. I can understand why.

This viewpoint requires more thought over who could replace Assad, how they could create a m0derate and effective government for Syria and how they could find some unity of purpose between moderate Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions. The Kurds in the north will be looking for an independent Kurdish state. The Sunni groups will want reassurance that any new Syrian government will be fair between their interests and those of the Shia groups. None of this is easy politics.

Any UK bombing campaign would need to be planned in conjunction with troops from other countries on the ground. It would need help on the ground with identifying and checking targets to avoid loss of life of non combatants. It is difficult to see what extra the UK can bring to the long, vicious and tortuous Syrian civil war. UK forces should only be given tasks to do where there is a high chance of success and where their legal status is clear – unless our home country is under direct attack when you defend it come what may.

Meanwhile the US rhetoric towards Mr Putin has changed. He was a pariah when he exploited the western mistakes in Ukraine to take Crimea illegally. Now he is seen as a useful partner in Syria. He has been a critic of past western interventions which have so far failed to create peace and stability in several countries of the Middle East. Let’s hope this change of atmosphere between the great powers produces diplomatic and political initiatives that can achieve something in the cauldron that is Syria. This is a civil war that cannot be won by killing more people – it needs a political strategy for better government.

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53 Comments

  1. Posted September 29, 2015 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    “Meanwhile the US rhetoric towards Mr Putin has changed. He was a pariah when he exploited the western mistakes in Ukraine to take Crimea illegally. Now he is seen as a useful partner in Syria”

    Try having a reread of “1984” and Oceania’s constant state of war and its shifting alliances for an explanation as to what is going on. Its nice to see that Ms Nuland has now moved on from the Ukraine and is now casting her eye on Russia’s ally Armenia. Now she is helping stoke up discontent over the price electricity over there.

  2. Posted September 29, 2015 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Indeed I agree fully.

    As you say it is a civil war that cannot be won by killing more people, it needs a political strategy for better government.

    Interesting to hear John McDonnell going on about “corporate welfare”. He clearly really does believe that government has a magic money tree and just dole out the money to people, businesses, state sector workers and the likes. Has he really failed to notice that all the money government spends is taken off businesses or individuals? That every time you tax business it comes from wages, dividends to investors or reduces profits & thus future investment?

    He makes even our current, dreadful, tax borrow and waste, IHT ratting, greencrap subsidising, EUloving, centralised wage fixing, tax complexity increasing, pension and landlord robbing chancellor look relatively sensible.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      Incidentally how do my UK companies sign up for some of this “Corporate Welfare”. All we get at the moment is endless taxation, endless tax, NI and regulatory complexity, endless new responsibilities and endless new daft regulations to comply with.

      Where actually is this Corporate Welfare are we missing out?

      Other than perhaps the absurd greencrap subsidies and the CAP subsidies for land owners I do not see any.

      • Posted September 29, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink

        LL
        All you need do is pay your staff too little. The DWP will force people to take these jobs. The state will then make up your employee’s money through working tax credits thus, subsidising your wage costs…..Corporate Welfare; Hope this clarifies it for you.

        John, how much of a role did the UK’s high energy costs play in the closing of the steel works in Redcar?

        Reply An important issue, second only to the collapse of the steel price I suspect.

        • Posted September 29, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

          This is a very silly argument indeed. The payments are made by the government to assist the employees. You suggest the employer then gets cheaper employees, but generally there is only a certain value an employee can actually give to the business. The employer cannot pay more in general without rapidly becoming uncompetitive with other suppliers, both in the UK and abroad. If he/she paid more than the market rate he would just go out of business or get taken over.

          The way to higher pay is more job choice (or fewer workers). The way to achieve this is lower & simpler taxes, far less and more sensible regulation, smaller government, far lower energy costs, easy hire and fire …… the exact opposite of Corbyn’s policies and even to a large degree of Osborne who is essentially just Corbyn light.

          Corbynomics would harm the very people he claims he want to help most of all.

          • Posted September 29, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            Wiki says Corbyn achieved two A-Levels at grade ‘E’ (after prep and Grammar school). Given his total lack of any rational economic logic it is surprising he achieved this.

            At least he has a reasonable excuse for his daft economics though, unlike George Osborne who should know better.

          • Posted September 29, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            With all due respect LL, it is not silly at all and actually supports your usual often repeated rants.
            Business in this country are hamstrung by silly regulations and rules. These have to be factored in when costing. One manhour in the UK costs far more than in a developing country.
            Living costs in the UK are much higher than in those same developing countries. We are therefore unable to compete in a global market because our costs will always be higher.
            We have expensive energy, expensive employment taxes, expensive buildings costs as well as higher wage costs.
            Third world countries do not fund a NHS, they don’t fund education,benefits, green crap etc.
            Pay has to be kept artificially low in order for us to compete and the state keeps that pay low by flooding the market with cheap labour and paying the difference between the amount someone needs to live on and what a company will pay.
            We need to compete by doing things which are hi tech however, we do not train our own people well enough because we cannot afford to. It is far cheaper to bring in outside workers.
            What we will have to accept is that we, as a nation, have priced out low skilled jobs and that there will now always be too few jobs for all low skilled people to have one and they will need benefits to get them by. These benefits will either pay them to do nothing or subsidise businesses to give them something to do.

        • Posted September 29, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          Of course if companies were taxed and inconvenienced less by the state they could invest more in capital equipment & other efficiencies and then they could pay staff more, while remaining competitive.

        • Posted September 29, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          High energy prices may have an influence, but I believe a far greater influence is the EU Carbon emissions legislation. By shutting down a steel plant, Corus received several £ Billion of emissions credits. Now there is an incentive to close down a loss-making steel plant. Unfortunately the truth does not fit with the left-wing, pro-EU, pro AGW message, so you will never find these facts on the Biased BBC or MSM.

          • Posted September 29, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

            Indeed and I had hoped our host, who is also my MP, may have commented.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      The more details that emerge on Mr McDonnell the more repellent a character he appears to be. We know he is a long term apologist for the IRAs campaign of murder, and claims he was ‘joking’ when he said he would have liked to murder Margaret Thatcher. We now learn he applauded the criminal violence against conservative Central Office and thought a yob who got 32 months for hurling a fire extinguisher from the roof of a building during a riot – an act which could have killed someone – was too harshly punished. It’s all very well trying to sort out Syrias problems, but we have our own home grown problems when the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequor is someone who glorifies and justifies murder, attempted murder and other acts of yobbish violence. to add to it Mr McDonnell apparently objects to democratic debate and urges militant Labour supporters to ‘confront’ Conservatice MPs and journalists who don’t agree with Labour.

      • Posted September 29, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        I could not help noticing that, when urged to wave to the audience by Corbyn when receiving applause at the end of his conference speech, McDonnell`s wave quickly became a clenched fist salute.

      • Posted September 29, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Indeed. John McDonnell seems even more economically illiterate, and just as daft as his boss. Magic money tree economics and the pure destructive politics of envy, spite and theft. It did not work with Ed Miliband, so they are going to try it again in spades it seems.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      But the government most certainly does have a magic money tree, it is called QE, but is properly known as printing money.

      It has been used to assist the banking “industry”.

      Once the principle of money printing is accepted, which it has been, there is no rational reason why it should not be used for whatever purpose the government decides. The choice is merely political, not economic.

      Corbyn therefore has a perfectly valid argument that “people’s QE” is acceptable.

      For the avoidance of doubt, I am against money printing for any purpose whatsoever, and the insolvent banks (most still are..) should have been allowed to fail, and their directors prosecuted for trading whilst insolvent.

      • Posted September 29, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        All this seems to be wildly off-topic, but nonetheless here goes:

        “It has been used to assist the banking “industry”.”

        No, it has been used to assist the government, which otherwise may not have been able to borrow enough money to pay all its bills on time and in full, the same problem which the government of Greece encountered but could not solve in the same way because Greece no longer has its own national currency under national control.

        Recently taking a look back in my files from early 2009, when Darling was wangling with the Bank for QE to be started up, a couple of relevant articles which luckily are still available on the internet.

        From March 10th 2009:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/recession/4967505/Inflation-will-kill-the-gilt-rally-in-the-end.html

        “… it is important to understand that while the Bank of England may be a net buyer of gilts, the Government is still a net seller. At the start of the year gilts were heavily sold as the full implications of the Government’s truly dreadful fiscal position dawned on the investing public.

        Indeed numbers were being bandied around suggesting gilt issuance in the region of £120bn or more and even the head of the Government’s own Debt Management Office (DMO) warned of the possibility of failed gilt auctions in 2009 as the sums required seemed to be unmanageable.

        So instead the Government is in effect deliberately under funding its fiscal deficit by printing a significant proportion of the money required. It is having to do this in a convoluted route as the Treasury cannot sell gilts directly to the Bank of England as this is not allowed (for very good reason) under the Maastricht treaty … ”

        From March 25th 2009, after Mervyn King had mooted that less QE might be needed than had previously been thought:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/recession/5048575/Failed-gilt-auction-stokes-fears-over-UK-economy.html

        “Failed gilt auction stokes fears over UK economy”

        “The Government has suffered a major blow to its economic stimulus ambitions after an auction of Treasury gilts failed for the first time in more than a decade, underlining the market’s fears about the state of the nation’s finances.”

        “Failure raises fears that the Government may not be able to secure the billions of pounds its needs from the markets to fund its record fiscal deficit without paying far more for the money, and reflects concerns about UK economic stability.”

        “Analysts said the market had been knocked by Mr King’s comments on Tuesday that the central bank may not need to buy as many gilts as planned if its £75bn quantitative easing programme enjoys early success.”

        “Investors are thought to be concerned that, should the Bank not do as much quantitative easing as planned, they could be left holding more gilts than hoped as they would not be able to offload them on the central bank. The markets are already under pressure to increase their exposure to gilts as the Government is issuing far more than usual.”

        And the government was issuing far more than usual simply because it was having to borrow a quarter of all the money it was spending.

        • Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          And the intermediate buyers of the gilts were….no prizes for the answer, but it would be interesting to know their margin on selling to the Bank…

          • Posted September 30, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

            It was always recognised that the “money-go-round” would not be kept turning just through the goodwill of private investors towards the Bank and the Treasury. However the sweeteners would not amount to much compared to the £375 billion, almost all of which found its way into Treasury coffers and was then spent paying the government’s bills.

  3. Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    I have always supported bringing down dictatorships and trying to impose democracy in the past. However I realised that that is empty headed thinking in that because as the lefties always do I believed if the intention was good then pursuing it would result in the desired outcome. It has not. It occurs to me that undermining and working against dictators is not the way and that it would have been better to cosy up to them. This has the benefit of stability as as we can see the other way causes far more misery, death and torture than keeping the status quo.

    Being more friendly to regimes that we find abhorrent would bit by bit realise our intention to bring more justice and democracy to these countries. To do it we would have to work on common goals there will always be some of those and just to agree to disagree on things that are not common. We do business with regimes we disagree with now and always have and that should be extended to all except in very exceptional circumstances(the war over Iraq and Kuwait is one exception that comes to mind).

    Being friendly I believe would bring more and definitely better results than our current strategy. Friends listen to friends and influence is more likely if in close proximity. We should think out of the box more often than we do as quite often counter intuitive ideas are the best ones.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      I suppose you always have to ask: “Why is that country a dictatorship?”, and often the answer is that the people living within its borders are too deeply divided among themselves, and some of them are too ready to resort to violence, to make anything other than dictatorship a feasible method for the government of the country as it is now constituted.

  4. Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    As I have said on these pages before, we have no interests in Syria.

    As the government, or regime as you call it, it is no less bad than that elsewhere in the region. For example, Bahrain has a minority Sunni leadership but a Shia majority population. During the Arab Spring, the people of Bahrain demanded more freedom, this was put down with help from KSA. How is that any less right ?

    We need to understand that, we cannot simply transport democracy to a nation and a region that has no need of one. In fact their religion, Islam, is opposed to it.

    The MENA and its populations benefit from a strong but benevolent leader. And to think the Allawhite (sp) community will be safe under a Sunni majority rule is sheer fantasy. And it is this simple basic lack of knowledge of things like this that makes me wonder if those we elect are really suitable for the tasks a head.

    In short, this is, and never has been any of our concern. The best solution, is to let those who support, Assasd do so, and let them defeat ISIS. It is far cheaper on the UK in both blood and money, much of which has been wasted in numerous MENA and European wars.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Yes attempting to transplant the West’s version of democracy onto these areas is as futile and damaging to the population as trying to transplant large tranches of Middle Eastern and African immigrants into Europe and hoping they will integrate.

      Policies proposed and mandated by those who have no skin in the game.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      There is also no need for the UK to intervene on humanitarian grounds as the modern way is for populations of countries afflicted by war etc. to remove themselves to come and live here (and other comparatively rich and stable countries).

      • Posted September 29, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        It’s not just the modern way, as I tried to point out the other day the fall of the Roman Empire was hastened by a succession of barbarian incursions.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      And that rioting over many months in Bahrain was barely covered in western media.

      • Posted September 29, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        I was there last week. It still goes on pretty much every night in some areas.

  5. Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Involving Putin is just pragmatic and somewhat cynical, he is the only person who has the manpower, weapons, and lack of political constraints to intervene. H can do whatever he personally wants. Mr Cameron should present it as “a new kind of politics” before Putin’s chum Mr Corbyn claims the credit.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      I see that Mr Putin has said that the turmoil in the Middle East is the fault of the Americans – trying to impose their ideas of government on all and sundry. A bit of a generalisation, but with a lot of truth in it.

  6. Posted September 29, 2015 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I have gone on record on this subject in the recent past. It is pleasing to see that Russia, the USA and elements are now in discussion reference a coordinated campaign to eliminate ISIS. They are the common enemy to everyone.

    Once achieved it would be too early to try to create our version of democracy in Syria before we all go home. I advocate the Mc,arthur approach to Japan after WW2. The emperor (Assad) stays in a symbolic sense, but has no power. Russia, the USA, elements of Europe (UK and France) run the country which would be in a state of transition to self government over a period of ten years or maybe more. If other Arab states wish to contribute ,particularly financially, they should be encouraged.

    The objective would be to return the country to normality and reverse the refugee stream that is overwhelming Europe and their ability to deal with it. Consider Japan now to get some idea of what is possible.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      But Japan was a defeated, occupied country of effectively a single race and religion, imbued with patriotism and obedience to authority. It is an island entity with readily defensible borders.

      None of the above apply to Syria, or most of the ME.

      Governing Syria would prove impossible for a Western power.

      • Posted September 29, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        So if my untried ,except in Japan, answer is so impossible, what is your answer/solution.

        • Posted September 29, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          Oh, that’s easy! Stay the hell out of the Middle East!

  7. Posted September 29, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Putin needs to sup with a long spoon! I wouldn’t trust the Yanks as far as I could throw them!

    It’s all there if people care to seek it out, and not reject the evidence out of hand through the wearing of extra-dark rose-tinted sunglasses. I have had some right arguments recently over this, with politicians from all sides, and frankly, I’m surprised that there are still people who crave conflicts in which they don’t have to fight, and keep their minds firmly shut to the possibility that the so-called ‘good-guys’ are nothing of the kind!

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  8. Posted September 29, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve had some very interesting conversations lately with people who have been ”on the ground” in recent weeks and months (in Syria, Iraq and Turkey). I’m sure the relevant people in government are aware of these points, but the MSM likes to spin a totally different line.

    1. The shia majority in Syria support Assad’s regime even if they hate the man.

    2. Nearly all Syrians despise and fear IS, but the ones who haven’t just run away are brave and will stand and fight for their homeland. These are people we can work with.

    3. IS could be easily defeated, but (like elsewhere) their cowardly methods of hiding in the populace mean that there will inevitably be some collateral damage, about which the govt needs to be strong when faced with the hand-wringing minority in the west.

    4. The vast majority of the “refugees” heading to Europe have been in Turkey for at least 2 years and have now decided to move west in droves in the belief that there will be too many of them to stop.

    5. The middle east will not sort out its own problems – we are now being affected by them though, so it’s time to step in.

    The solution seems simple – defeat IS and get the various Syrian factions round the table and start reconstructing on the back of an agreement. However, the flies in the ointment are Iraq and the Kurds. Or rather Turkey’s attitude to the Kurds.

  9. Posted September 29, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    As before, my Christian Syrian contact told me that Assad is a figurehead leader of his clan and does not control policy. The clan ran the country for their own advantage and the minorities paid in money for the ‘protection’. Assad’s father was a different kettle of fish.

    A map of Syria showing the distribution of the areas held by rebels and Isis shows that some rebel areas are patchy, but the Syrian army still hold much of the country. Isis stretches in a thin band from Iraq to the Turkish border, with a blob on the end. It would seem possible for the Russian backed army and the Kurds to eradicate the problem in these areas if heavily backed by the US and allies.

    Once done the rebels may prefer to come to a deal and end the war. The Russian and West could lean on Assad and his heavies to behave properly to the Sunni minority in their areas and the Christians, and not discriminate against them financially. Then a very large aid package would be necessary to rebuild. But this would solve the Syrian refugee problem. It would not however, solve the economic migrant problem and help from Turkey and Libya would be necessary.

  10. Posted September 29, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I suspect that Putin`s interest (supporting Assad in order to secure access to a Mediterranean port). now apparently supported by boots on the ground, aircraft and helicopter gunships, will prevail over Cameron`s (getting rid of Assad).

  11. Posted September 29, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    When there is trouble below you have to have strong and determined leadership at the top . Syria has all the ingredients for internal strife to go on and on ; the tribal conflict will not disappear between Sunni and Shia so , whoever has the task of lead , has to rule with an iron hand to keep things under control . Assad may be a cruel dictator in the eyes of the outside but he knew what he had to contend with . Outside interference caused much of the subsequent turmoil in Syria and is as much to blame as Assad’s dictatorship .

    It makes a lot of sense to get alongside Putin in co-ordinating the solution in Syria and , who knows , such a collaboration might lead to a much broader conciliation in many other areas . As things are Russia has already shown its hand so , unless one wants this challenge as well , the only rational step is to work in unison to defeat ISIL.

  12. Posted September 29, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Now that you’ve managed to reduce the armed forces to nothing more than a civil defence force I should be quiet about Syria and the rest of the world.
    We don’t have the hardware to make any difference and to say different is just posturing.
    When you scrapped all our ships and decimated the army and airforce it was time to shut up.

  13. Posted September 29, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Clearly Cameron believes that if only we spent £5.8 billion on windmills for Syria, all problems would be solved, and the refugee crisis would end. Is there no end to the schemes for wasting taxpayers’ money he will devise?

    In the mean time, it should be obvious that posturing by the various parties has been at the expense of lives on the ground in Syria (and the Ukraine). The US and EU do not come out well in this: too eager to please the Qataris and Saudis, too eager to try to rekindle the Cold War. The UK and France, as ex colonial powers seem to have acquiesced in the “great game” instead of considering what is best for the people concerned. The consequences now spill over into our own countries as they provide cover for a general exodus of refugees of all sorts, mainly economic migrants. In Germany according to a recent poll the dominant feelings (over 60%) are of fear and intimidation.

    Assad should not be viewed as a hindrance. If he is to remain in power at the behest of foreign support, he becomes a puppet who can be moved aside at their convenience. They might be wise not to try to flush him too soon, since there are no obvious replacements.

    It should not be forgotten that this conflict spills over into Iraq, and redesigning the map to provide homes for the various groups will involve the Kurdish and Sunni elements there, and probably also the Kurdish populations in Iran and Turkey – another country causing problems through their distaste for Kurds – a way must be found to frighten Erdogan away.

  14. Posted September 29, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Peter Oborne ,just back from a fact finding trip to Damascus,was interviewed on BBC Breakfast this morning.His considered view is that President Assad is far more popular among his people than Western sources would have us believe.I’m not at all surprised to hear this;the main impetus behind the attempted regime change in Syria has always struck me as being more about geopolitics than concern for the wellbeing of the Syrian people,particularly in regard to the putative gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe (passing through Syria)that would undermine Russia’s position in the European energy market.

    • Posted September 29, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that’s my experience too. The only two Syrians I have talked to at any length on this subject have both been supporters of Assad, strongly preferred to the alternatives.

      The British foreign policy regarding Syria is quite frivolous, and it shows. If the government really thinks that ISIS is major threat to the UK, it should be allying with the militarily most effective opposition to ISIS and that is the Syrian army. Churchill was strongly anti-Bolshevik, but he did not hesitate to ally with the USSR when Nazi Germany invaded in 1941.

      But the British government clearly does not think this, so it just shilly-shallies around chattering about the International Court of Justice in true New Labour fashion. When the government calls once more for the bombing of Syria, does it really think that we have forgotten that last time it wanted to bomb the other side? Do we want to emulate the Italians, always ending a war fighting on the opposite side to the one we started on?

      No major British interest is involved in Syria and we should stay out. And we desperately need someone to start doing hard thinking on foreign policy.

  15. Posted September 29, 2015 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Oceania is at war with Eastasia.

    Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

    etc ed

    1984, no longer a warning, has now become a lifestyle.

  16. Posted September 29, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Putins’s logic is impeccable.

    Those who are responsible for keeping Assad in power can have a far greater moderating influence on the Syrian rulers than they would have on the terrorist organisations the USA customarily uses to overthrow Governments it does not like.

    US Foreign policy has introduced chaos everywhere it has acted; it is time to try something else.

  17. Posted September 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    “Mr Cameron says he still wishes to see Assad replaced if the west intervenes more on the side of the current Syrian government against the ISIL and related insurgency. I can understand why.”

    Why? Why does the distinguished Oxonian historian, JR, believe the removal of Assad would be in the British interest? What are our actual interests in the Middle East, individually and as a whole? Russia’s interest is pretty clear; one only has to consult a map.

    As a country we continually mortgage our long term interests to false sentiment, stoked by the hidden hand directing the MSM, and illusory short term advantage; for the privilege of selling weapons and buying oil from Saudi Arabia, we allow our country to be graced with mosques confessing the Wahhabi variant of the religion of peace, the same as that of the Saudi, Qatari, Gulf State, and Turkish supported Daesh, etc ed
    Meanwhile, CMD is determined to antagonise Russia with vainglorious theatrical displays of hostility when a brief examination of the FTSE demonstrates the importance of our extractive industries when Russia is replete with mineral resources as well as undeveloped regions which our architects and engineers would wish to assist. If we ever get out of the EU, we will want to be welcomed to trade with the whole world almost without exception.

    Reply I was against military intervention last time and have made clear my scepticism about future UK intervention.

  18. Posted September 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Syria, is a region of desert and mountains, a few lines drawn up hastily post WWI and under heavily French influence it was never a country, just a collection of varied peoples. Across, the extended Middle east and over the Maghreb, the track record of French administrated Arab nations has not been what one might call – good, in fact the very opposite appears to be the case.

    Bashar al-Assad, was and is no great president, neither is he, the monster he’s depicted by Britain and the west – either. Damn it all, we need to get away from simplistic analysis and steer well away from the demonization of those deemed to be our foes. Oh dear me……… but then look at Corbyn’s lot or, Cameron and Fallon – and with the FCO and you can hear and see – how Britain is actually the very least able arbiter of, whose ‘good’ and who isn’t. For crying out loud, think of Blair.

    True enough, the Alouite sect are a barbarous rabble and backed by Hezbollah/Iran but the Sunnis are no better and backed by Turkey and KSA-Gulf Satrapies. In between, with the Christians caught up in a blood feud which is centuries old – between Shia and Sunni.

    Even if and it is a big if – Isil can be stamped out, there cannot be a rebuilding of Syria the very idea is political preposterous nonsense so typical of westernized visions of the impossible being installed on the ungovernable…. Lets see, for an example of what not to do, look south to that democratic failed experiment – namely Iraq.

    If Isil are to be brought to heel, a few things need to happen first, Iran and the Saudis to told in no uncertain terms: to stop meddling in the region.
    The Syrian army needs to march on Isil but its northern war needs to be ceased forthwith and here Turkey and the Saud’s can put a stop to that [ie stop funding and arming al Nusra].
    Al-assad to remain as interim leader with acknowledgement of Russian influence and henceforwards a division – in effect; a cantonisation of Syria into autonomous areas to suit Alouite [Shia], Christian, Sunni and Kurd alike with all cantons [areas] to have granted access to the Mediterranean coast to allow for trade and here the Russians must act as guarantors of the peace and access to ports.

    I am not holding my breath.

    Some final musings, and the great shame of it is, for that area of land once known as Syria and its peoples – ‘the essence of the middle east’….

    No, true enough it (Syria) wasn’t perfect but the west scurrilously agitated for the downfall of its elected president! Why oh why, was Syria deemed an “enemy” and the KSA are deemed as “allies?
    Why does the west always get it wrong and in so doing – make a bad situation infinitely worse.
    Is it not about time we [particularly Britain] stopped meddling ourselves – and our armed forces are so underfunded, anyway there’s naught we can change even if the will was there.

  19. Posted September 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    That would depend upon which targets were to be bombed by the RAF.

  20. Posted September 29, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    The final sentence of Mr R’s post is the critical one. I think that the innocent who die will just be collateral damage.

  21. Posted September 29, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    There is one huge obstacle to a peaceful settlement in Syria. The Awalites, who support President Assad, believe that they will be exterminated if they lose political power (Is it so fanciful? etc ed)

    Any transition will have to be a long one, with Syrian Muslims acquiring rights step by step.

    • Posted September 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      Alawites please…..

      zorro

  22. Posted September 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Breaking news, Russian aircraft have started bombing in Syria today. They have warned all U.S aircraft to stay out of the way.

    • Posted September 30, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Let’s see how they chew up ISIS targets in a week which US bombing hasn’t touched within a year. The US will start getting twitchy about all that material going up in smoke….

      zorro

  23. Posted September 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    The U.S airforce is vast, they did not need Russian aircraft in Syria, we needed Russian troops on the ground but not aircraft. So what is Obama doing here? Due to the fact he has kept bombing of ISIS very light in comparison to what the U.S military can actually do he has encouraged the Russians to fill the void. At the UN both leaders compared the alliance as similar to when we both collaborated to stop Hitler, but ISIS cannot be compared to the German war machine under Hitler. The only other comparison I can think of is at the outcome of that war the two great powers carved up Europe for themselves. Is this the plan for Syria? There will be a Russian sphere of influence and a Western area? So we both control the pipelines? It may actually work.

  24. Posted September 30, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    The Russians have excellent SIGINT an know what they are hitting….

    zorro

  25. Posted October 1, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Russian Submarine Carrying Nuclear Weapons Arrives In Pacific Region according to the Russian news site Tass.

    http://tass.ru/en/defense/824811

  • 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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