The Syrian peace process

I am pleased to see the US, the UK Russia and the regional powers have pressed ahead with a peace conference for Syria. When we had the long debate about bombing Syria there was an absence of informed discussion of Syrian politics. The solution to Syria’s woes has to be a new political settlement, where more people will accept the authority of the government and where the government is able and willing to govern by peaceful means, using less force.

There were two obvious reasons why there was little debate about a Syrian political process. The first is all too few UK MPs understand the parties, factions, religious groupings and terrorist cells that characterise modern Syria. Few of us have met any of them, few have visited the country or been able to read definitive briefings on the complexity of Syrian political movements. The second is those who have read a bit have come to understand that the West cannot impose a political solution on the Syrian people. It has to emerge from the parties, factions, cells and armies on the ground when they think it is better to talk than to fight.

This does not mean the West is without power or influence. Recent events have shown that working with allies in the region, and working alongside Russia, it is possible to push forward a peace process. The aim agreed this week is to help Syria move towards elections and a new national government within eighteen months. The West thinks Assad must go to allow this to happen. Russia thinks the Syrian people should be able to decide between Assad and others, but may well privately have come to the same view that Assad has to  be replaced by a less contentious leader. Success is not going to be easy to achieve, but there will be even less chance if no-one tries.

 

Meanwhile I am pleased to see the UK is not undertaking many air strikes against Syria and seems not to have used the Brimstone missiles yet which we heard might be useful. I am glad they are taking care in identifying targets and seeking to avoid civilian casualties. There has been no early pre-emptive move against Raqqa.

As Daesh are a movement which does not recognise state frontiers, the Coalition forces being used against them in Iraq and Syria need to understand that Daesh now has an important stronghold in Libya. It would not improve western security if military action flushed Daesh terrorists out of Raqqa or elsewhere in Syria/Iraq only for them to turn up in  Libya that much nearer to ourselves.

Progress was also claimed in seeking to create a single legitimate government in Libya to replace the competition between two  Assemblies and various military bands. That would also be welcome. The West should not rush to give military aid to any such new government in Libya until it can see that such a government does have decent popular support, and is well enough established. The West should not allow its military resources to be used by one faction amongst many in these civil wars. Only if and when there is a government of Libya with reasonable traction over most of their country should the West consider any request for military assistance.

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63 Comments

  1. Mie Stallard
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    During the Civil War in England, Thomas Hobbes made the fairly obvious point that anarchy and rule by gangs and murderers is natural and that what is needed is a strong man who can impose order and civilisation by force.
    It was only after everyone in both England and Europe had got absolutely fed up with fighting each other and committing atrocities that make Is look gentle that people like Locke were able to emerge.

    PS: Well done on LBC yesterday – a breath of fresh air on the EU!

    • yosarion
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

      And there lies the problem, the UK has never been a Country, it is a series of political unions, therefore you can’t have a Union within a Union where Countries have been given their Parliaments back but the English are expected to see their Country broken up into Regions to keep a very dysfunctional family together.

  2. Mark B
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Yes, it is good that move are being made for peace in Syria. And at a time, with Russian help, the legitimate Syrian government is beginning to win and take back its territory. As for ISIS, it now seems that both they and the terrorist Free Syrian Army are a spent force. Perhaps the West now sees a future outcome without Assad and is trying to get it through negotiation ? Good luck with that.

    The Syrian people elected, Assad as their leader, why cannot people just accept their democratic decision ?

    The RAF has not been flying over Syria because of Russian S400 surface to air missiles.

    Syria is, and has never really been a country that we in the UK have any interest in, hence the lack of any real knowledge. And because of this lack of knowledge MP’s voted to bomb a country and its people they know nothing about. Both ISIS and the Free Syrian Army would happily slaughter Allawhites (sp) and other non-Sunni’s.

    As for a single legitimate government for Libya, they had one until we overthrew it. That is why they are in the mess they are now in. Do people really think we can make it any better, what with our track record both in Afghanistan where ISIS are growing in strength and Iraq where the Iraqi government cannot govern because local people support ISIS ?

    Just stay out of other peoples business and leave them alone to sort things out. And while your at it, when are the English going to have a government of their own much like the Scots do ? The UK Government governs for the UK as a whole and not just England.

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Mark B

      Our MP’s certainly seem to have confused the situation in these Countries, by being confused themselves.

      First one side, then another, then could almost be back to square one, but only after tens of thousands killed, half of the population has been displaced, the Country virtually destroyed, yet another terrorist group formed, and Europe a mass of refugees.

      What a mess !

    • Gary
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      “And because of this lack of knowledge MP’s voted to bomb a country and its people they know nothing about.”

      and there you have it. these feckless, miserable people who voted to kill far away people they know nothing about and for whom they could not care a stuff. These people are immoral and reprehensible. Their rumoured sordid lives are testament to their sordid brains. I hope that I will live to see the people get justice. This is why Corbyn is defying their arithmetic, they are too stupid to see how much they are loathed.

  3. DaveM
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I’ve had a fair number of intelligence briefs on Syria, so there is quite a lot of reliable information out there available to the govt. The one thing people don’t seem to agree on, though, is whether Assad is the main problem or if he is merely the front man for a far bigger and sinister regime.

    Interesting though that a few weeks ago, when asked, the majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan cited Daesh as bad – they were generally ambivalent about Assad. So that would suggest priorty no1 is to destroy them in Syria and Iraq whilst simultaneously making plans for Libya. As you say, that crocodile is a lot closer to this boat than Syria. Although as long as Merkel and Juncker keep the refugee/terrorist route to Germany open that croc is swimming fast through clear waters.

    • Mark
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      This was widely reported:

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/20/most-syrian-rebels-sympathise-with-isis-says-thinktank

      Perhaps the Russians are right – there is a lot more to sorting out the Syrian mess than dealing with ISIS and removing Assad. That of course also ignores the ongoing attacks by Turkey on Kurds within and without their own borders. The same principle applies to Islamic extremists wherever they are found – nominal allegiance can switch between whichever group is seen to be most prominent. Thus, al Qaeda had been the fashion, to be replaced by ISIS. Boko Haram are also strong in Africa.

      We must remember that our ill-informed government were originally planning to pitch in on the side of both ISIS and al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra when they originally proposed action in Syria. If, as you suggest, intelligence informed the government about these things, some very serious questions have to be asked as to what the government thought it was playing at. In fact, that question still needs to be asked.

      • DaveM
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Mark,

        My suggestion is that the intelligence services have the info available but that certain members of the govt are far too clever and knowledgeable to listen to the experts. This is because they have extensive knowledge of the world through PPE degrees, jobs as SPADs and stuff they read on their iPads during Parliamentary debates!

    • stred
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      As I wrote here over a year ago, my Christian Syrian contact, who I was on the verge of offering lodgings to, as he was being evicted because of legislation, told me quite a lot about the situation there.

      The first point he made was that Assad is a figurehead and could not stop the more unpleasant members of his clan from behaving as they do. He is not like his father, well educated, married to a Sunni, has Sunni army chiefs and soldiers, looked after the Christians- and they are in the army too, has been good at modernising the country. However, the non-Allo’s were pissed off with having to pay bribes for everything, such as planning permission. The refugees and those who have probably been enslaved or murdered by now would, to put it mildly, rather the West had not conspired with and armed some Sunnis to overthrow the Allo’s, after Barrack and Dave’s and George and Tony’s successes in Iraq, Libya and Egypt.

      I can’t imagine how the Syrians are going to be pleased that the same clots are now offering to sort it all out in the conference centre.

      By the way, our minister keep calling Assad ‘the butcher’ and other names then accusing him of killing his own people, before the usual ‘Assad must go’. Can anyone remember any civil war where one side did not kill the other and vice versa, and what is the difference between being blown up by a barrel bomb or a bomb with a pointed end?

      • Mercia
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        and they are in the army too, has been good at modernising the country.

        >
        The Chinese were interested in building a high speed railway from Beijing to Damascus. Great things were planned for Damascus, it is very sad.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I’m suspicious of this official decision to refer to “Daesh” rather than “Islamic State”.

    Is it part of the campaign to persuade people that “this is nothing to do with Islam”?

    I’m also concerned that the UK government seems to be drifting towards taking sides in these conflicts between different branches of Islam, when it should stay above that.

    It is not for our government ministers to decide what is and is not “true” Islam, or what interpretations of Islam are only heterodox and what are actually heretical.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      I don’t believe we are consciously taking sides on the basis of religion,I think its more that the Sunnis are allied to us or our allies or just have more influence over us(Saudi Arabia,the Gulf States,etc),whilst the Shia are countries/factions we don’t like(Iran,Hizbollah) and are supported by countries we (or are allies) wish to make enemies of – Russia.

      I absolutely agree with your first point though and do not use the “approved” word myself.

    • stred
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      DC. It has to be spin in a silly attempt to avoid discord in the UK. Apparently, DAESH is an anagram in Arabic for the same sort of title as ISIS. I read somewhere that ISIS was made up by the headjobbys to mean Islamic State in Syria, then they realised it was the name of a pagan Egyptian goddess and went for ISIL, where L is for Levant. Has anyone noticed that the new Egyptian president, who is all against ISIS, is called Sisi? Now it should perhaps be called ISILL with Libya added.

      There was a very interesting programme on R4 last week where David Abrahamovich tried to rationalise what the headjobbys actually believe. They certainly are Islamists, but like certain violent Christian sects are not accepted by the vast majority. The main point of the programme was that they believe that what they are doing is fulfilling prophecy, which is selectively taken out of writings. They regard the Western intervention in Iraq as helpful.

      The move to Libya too is a prophecy. All you have to do is look up prophecy to guess what they are going to do next. Then be ready to stop them going but, if they do get there, most Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindis, Yihardis?, Buddhists, Agnostics and Atheists would be pleased to see them eliminated.

  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Is it part of the plan that Assad and/or his party will be excluded from the new elections?

    Because while foreign forces, the US government and others, want him removed, is it not possible that the Syrians would actually prefer him and his party to the alternatives?

    Reply To be settled in peace talks.

    • acorn
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Denis, have a read of Paul Robinson at Mike Norman Economics namely “Democracy ≠ Liberalism”. D.A.E.SH is the Arabic acronym formed of the same words that make up I.S.I.S in English: ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’. Middle East local English language press use “Daesh”, not ISIS.

      Reply Indeed. I am under no requirement to use any particular description of these people, but decided to sue the one currently being used by the government.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        The one that doesn’t include the word “Islamic”!

        acorn, I’m not particularly concerned with the description chosen by the Middle East media, I’m more concerned with the description now being pumped out in the UK media.

      • Dennis
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Actually it is :-

        Daesh is an acronym for the Arabic phrase al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

        • Anonymous
          Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          Dennis – You are guilty of talking truth and common sense in modern Britain. Nigel Farage tried it and was given short shrift.

          We must use discreet language, but it is safest not to address these issues at all.

      • acorn
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        While I think of it, did you see this from Healthwatch?

        “The NHS gets away with complacency because people are so grateful for their care, according to the official patient advocate. Doctors and managers are too willing to point to high levels of satisfaction in official surveys rather than ask patients what they could do better, said Anna Bradley, the departing chairwoman of Healthwatch England.”

        Have you noticed that these Quangocrats, only make these newsworthy statements when they are leaving the job?

        Anyway, I suggest that this is a widespread disease that affects the UK population and is not particular to Doctors and Nurses. It applies to any form of “officialdom”, including elected officialdom.

        Which is why the UK population is continually “fobbed off” with inferior public services including poor management of the UK economy, due to a lack of government understanding of how to deploy resources, using the currency issuing power, that is available in a sovereign currency economic system.

        Still, it is much worse in the Eurozone. Millions of people have been impoverished by the stupidity of the IMF; ECB and the EU commission. Millions of youngsters with no job and no prospects of getting one, are going to be very angry when they find out it need never have happened.

    • mickc
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      I don’t believe for one second that the Syrian people will be given any consideration in the “peace talks”.

      And you are too realistic to believe it either, I imagine…

  6. Gary
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    what has Russia said to America that caused a sudden about turn in America’s attitude? From one minute talking about escalation and Turkey’s encroachment into Iraq, to appeasement all around.? Russia has either revealed some astonishing evidence against NATO etc. or the west suddenly found Christmas humility and goodwill.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the US is getting concerned about developments in Afghanistan where the Taleban is taking back more territory(interesting article in the current edition of The Spectator-“If the Taleban takes Helmand….”) and where forces linked to IS (particularly Chinese Uighurs) may be looking to set up a base for attacks on the FSU republics of Central Asia,something President Putin has been warning about.

      The author of the Spectator article also points out that the second largest foreign forces fighting in Syria(after Lebanese Hizbollah) is now the “Fatemioun” a force of Afghan Shia Hazaras in the pay of Iran.Messier and messier it gets.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Have a read of Seymour Hersh’s article on the “London Review of Books” website. Lets Hope Kerry and Lavrov jointly win the Nobel Peace Prize next year for avoiding WW3.

      • Mark
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        It’s a good write-up. Yet Mr Hersh is left puzzled:

        The Joint Chiefs and the DIA were constantly telling Washington’s leadership of the jihadist threat in Syria, and of Turkey’s support for it. The message was never listened to. Why not?

        As indeed am I.

      • hefner
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for pointing out this article.

    • Mark B
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      The Syrian government forces are winning. Plain and simple.

  7. Old Albion
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I see you have been told to describe the Islamic terrorists as ‘daesh’ now. The BBC will surely follow, they already describe them as ‘so-called’ Islamic state.

    • Mark
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I thought the BBC were unable to distinguish between members of the Labour party and members of ISIS – calling them both militants. Perhaps there is a lesson there.

  8. mickc
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Syria was not a problem until the USA, under the Wolfowitz Doctrine, decided that Assad was to be overthrown, presumably for the benefit of Saudi Arabia which objected to the Ba’athist movement and wishes to spread Wahabism.

    The UK should have stayed well clear of this mess, but Cameron wanted to please the USA.

    The USA has never wished to defeat ISIS, because the Saudis support it. Only since Russia has taken action has anything been achieved.

    However, Russia would be unwise to put any faith in the good intentions of the USA, which is totally untrustworthy.. and the UK should be similarly sceptical. The USA may, occasionally, be our ally but it is not our friend.

    • forthurst
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      “Syria was not a problem until the USA, under the Wolfowitz Doctrine, decided that Assad was to be overthrown, presumably for the benefit of Saudi Arabia”

      No, not Saudi Arabia; search YouTube for an interview with Roland Dumas, re Syria and England. Of course, once we had got the pot boiling nicely, other interests became involved to do with oil and pipelines, the expulsion of Kurds from Turkey into Syria, the various versions of a new overarching ‘caliphate’ over large areas of the ME to rival the old Ottoman Empire. When you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind.

      Is there anything more distasteful than the British government involving itself in foreign intrigue, entirely without the knowledge or support of Parliament or the British people, when there is not even a recognisable British interest involved?

  9. Antisthenes
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I can foresee one problem that the Syrian peace process is going cause. That it is going to sour even more relations between Russia and the West over the replacement or not of Assad. The West will wish for a democratic process that will install a government that is acceptable to the people of Syria and is also likely to be friendly to the West. Russia will want a government that will be friendly to her and they wont care much how that is achieved. She wont much care either if the government is what the majority of Syrians want as long as that government is capable of governing even if it is by tyrannical means.
    Putin is not disposed to democracy as is demonstrated by him doing his level best to eradicate that at home and knows that other democratic governments generally do not look favourably on him.

    Then there is the Turkish problem brewing on the side lines currently at logger heads with Russia so Turkey being a member of NATO complicates things. Not only is Turkey in dispute with Russia she is at the same time trying to turn the clock back by undoing much of what Attaturks reforms brought about. Secularism and democracy are under attack by the Turkish president fortunately the people are resisting as recent parliamentary elections there have shown but how long will that last as would be dictators will use any means to gain what they want. Odd though Turkey is it appears making up with Israel after falling out with her. Why. I suggest it is Turkey showing a different face for western consumption. She wants EU membership as well and that is being worked upon and if successful how will it gel with other member states who are predominately secular, democratic and respect human rights.

    No the Middle East and other places Libya, Turkey etc is a tangled mess and how the West is going to deal with it is a conundrum. The West needs better leadership than it currently has if any sort of solution is to be found. If Clinton or Trump make it to the White house and the mad men of Brussels continue in there ways then no solution will be found in fact the mess will become considerably worse.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 22, 2015 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      “….other democratic governments….”pray tell us who they are!In much of the West we now have a version of Lenin’s higher form of democracy – ie in practical terms only those with views “acceptable” to the globalist project are allowed to exercise it.

  10. JJE
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I agree with you in this as regards the Syrian politics.

    There is another less happy reason that we have undertaken fairly few missions, and that is our lack of capability. The Tornados are so old that the remaining ones that can get into the air can only fly in hostile territory with Typhoon projection. The Typhoons lack the weapons capability to do much by themselves. So we have to send two aircraft to do the job of one.

    Not sure where all the defence money goes..

  11. oldtimer
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I agree with your post. No doubt the process to a better future for Syria will be long and tortuous but it should be better than the past few years of civil war. At least Russia and the USA are more closely aligned even if the same cannot be said for Iran and Saudi Arabia.

  12. Mactheknife
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    You have decided that Assad is part of the problem but not part of the solution. What you envisage is yet another of the “Arab Spring” moments where miraculously a strong leader/dictator is undermined by the west on the assumption that the power void will be filled by nice reasonable chaps who will form an orderly government. How have they worked out for Egypt, Libya etc ?

    Two weeks ago you asked for views on what position to take on Syria and as one who has lived and worked in the middle east I said that it is fraught with religious, tribal and political sectarianism. As Mike Stallard pointed out above in his comment, to bring together and control these factions needs strong leadership and yes, this may sometimes mean people and methods which we may find unpalatable at times. This is why Russia has in part backed Assad as they realise he can, with support, bring back order or as close to it as we can get. Hence their strikes at those opposed to Assad, not just IS.

    You also are not taking into account the wider aspects such as the involvement of Saudi and Iran in all this. What does the government propose to do about this ?

    Summary: Fine words, misunderstanding, wrong strategy and another epic fail from the west.

  13. ian wragg
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I sincerely hope that when the peace talks conclude, we will start repatriating these Syrian “refugees” The country will need rebuilding and all these proclaimed engineers, doctors, dentists et al who are adding to our cultural diversity can go home.
    Perhaps a large dollop of foreign aid can be used to resettle them instead of enriching Mercedes and BMW via African politicians.

    • Mercia
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      I sincerely hope that when the peace talks conclude, we will start repatriating these Syrian “refugees”

      >
      There is absolutely zero chance of the peace talks concluding in peace.
      A Sunni Islamic State is inevitable.

      • Mitchel
        Posted December 22, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        I disagree that it is inevitable;Iran will expend every resource it has to prevent it,both directly – and indirectly through distractions in places like Yemen and Bahrain where there are restive Shia populations.Turkey may have neo-Ottoman pretensions but Iran also looks back fondly to its Safavid past.

  14. oldtimer
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink
    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      He is quite right, I suspect.

  15. forthurst
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Pure shadow boxing; the US has been sidelined by Russia and wants to stick its oar back in and Russia wants time to erradicate terrorism from Syria in order to strengthen Assad’s position. Ultimately, the neocon plan is to dismember Syria so that it no longer could pose a threat to their favourite little country.

    What is the British interest? The British interest, clearly, is in a secular inclusive state which is tolerant towards all traditional religions for that country, like the existing regime which we have been trying to overthrow. That means that intolerant Sunni armed groupings need to be expunged by military means. If an intolerant Sunni faction were to take root beyond the borders of Saudia Arabia, we would find ourselves being permanently beset by a tidal wave of those Shiites, Christians and Sunnis who are non-Wahhabiist or other Sunni compliant. Why has Daesh and other terrorist groupings treated those who have had the misfortune to have been captives, whether whole communities or individuals, with such public brutality? The answer is very simple: they are telling all the Syrian people who refuse to convert to their fundamentalist version of Islam to clear off out of Syria. That is why Europe is being invaded.

    Let’s have a foreign policy that benefits us for a change like getting out of the EU superstate. This may mean a change of government leadership to remove those who do not have the interests of the English people as their goal, either domestically or abroad.

  16. Tad Davison
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Regrettably, some wars are necessary, even civil wars. I see that naughty Mr H. (or should I say Lord H.) has been at it again this morning, warning Mr Cameron that he should not let ministers vote with their consciences in the forthcoming EU referendum, or he risks a civil war within the party.

    I suggest that particular war should have take place many years ago, so the Tories could finally rid themselves of his kind who have cost this nation not only massive amounts of money, but propose to remove its very soul and right to self-determination by bearing allegiance to somewhere else entirely.

    However we may look at the EU, it has been bad for Britain, despite all the assurances given by the noble lord and his cohorts many decades ago, that we would now be in a place of milk and honey, where poverty and deprivation had been banished, and the continent would be restful and passive. This Utopian vision hasn’t come about yet and shows absolutely no sign of doing so. Perhaps we now need to do something different that can be proven to work in our best interests. Get rid of the pro-EU supporters within the Tory party who have been consistently wrong, and if that results in a civil war, bring it on!

    The Tories would gain far more than they would lose, so some wars can do some good.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      I agree fully. The problem is that among Tory MPs the Heath, Major, Cameron, Heseltine, Clark view is held by the majority of MPs and nearly all of Cameron’s PC, lefty, BBC think, green crap, Libdim look alike, Cabinet – though probably not most of the party’s grass routes.

      I heard John ERM Major on the Today programme the other day talking his usual drivel. We have to stay in the EU regardless of the “complete nothings” that Cameron is pretending to negotiate, as:

      1. The whole world is coming together! Whatever he meant by this vacuous platitude who knows?

      2. Otherwise the Scots will want to leave the UK and re-join the EU (more fool them if they do).

      3. The EU breakup will be messy and they will gang up on us. Well they can & do that now anyway (and they have many daft treaties and dubious courts to help them do it). Far better of out when this would at least be harder for them.

      4. We would have to pay about half the current fee to trade with them – what complete drivel – we buy more off them so they should be paying us if anything.

      So this man had no remotely sensible reasons to stay in. A man who buried the Tories for 3+ terms, ran 18%+ mortgages rates and who has been proven wrong on almost everything he ever did as Chancellor and PM – and nearly all predictably so and indeed widely predicted by sensible people. Nor has even even said sorry for the fiasco he created.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        LL,

        I saw the Major interview on the Andrew Marr Show on the BBC iPlayer, and I see the former Prime Minister has lost none of his blandness or his propensity for spouting bilge. At one point, he was talking about us ‘opting out and becoming a closed nation’. This is just one of the many scare tactics put out by those who would do this nation down in favour of a different foreign master. It is absolute nonsense, and in keeping with all those who wish to remain under the EU boot because they themselves are too scared to contemplate a world where the UK can actually open up and prosper. We wouldn’t be closed, we’d be open for business to everyone the whole world over, but that fact is lost upon those with such a ‘closed’ and blinkered mentality.

        Also during the Major interview, the host brought up the issue of our massive trade deficit with the EU, to which Major replied, ‘You see, there’s a fallacy in that argument. Many of the things they sell to us, we wouldn’t be able to’…….then a curious thing happened. At 47 minutes 4 seconds, the sound mysteriously muted.

        Maybe the pro-EU BBC could explain.

        The word formed on Major’s lips appeared to be ‘make’. Then one might reasonably ask, why the hell not? Does he think we in the UK are so bereft of talent or enterprise that we couldn’t make just about anything if we put our minds to it?

        That, is how the market works. Make something cheaper but of better quality, and it will sell, thus benefitting both the consumer and the maker, without all the protectionist and highly regulated EU crap. And even someone like Labour’s Lord Sugar must surely understand that market process!

        Tad

        • Tad Davison
          Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

          And another thing………….

          Open Europe reports that:

          BBC’s impartiality called into question over £2m EU research and development grant

          The Daily Telegraph reports that the BBC’s research and development arm has received over £2m in EU funding over the past three years which has gone on projects such as 3D broadcasting, and ultra-high definition filming. Although the money cannot be spent on programme-making or newsgathering, critics have said that it casts doubts over the BBC’s impartiality in the forthcoming EU referendum

          Tad

    • yosarion
      Posted December 22, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Heseltine should piss off back to the land of his fathers, thought it a right joke when he said Maggie was for the EUSSR, possibly she was until she sussed the end game, whilst in Brussels she was shafted by Heseltine and Howe. That was the end of the Conservative party.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted December 23, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        That’s because she could see the inevitable consequences of a massive re-unified economic and industrial power calling the shots, and how unequal the EU would eventually become with lesser nations encouraged to borrow, who then found themselves in perpetual unmanageable debt.

        Lord Tebbit summed it up rather succinctly when he said if there was one thing he would have liked to have done for Mrs. T, it was to save her from her ‘friends’. I’ll never forgive the Heaths, the Majors, the Heseltines, or the Howes especially for their treachery.

        The EU only wants us there to pay the bills, not to have a say. Liam Fox said last weekend that he was promised the EU would be going in our direction by now when he entered parliament 23 years or so ago. It is pretty clear that it isn’t and never will!

        How many more lies will the UK population be lulled into swallowing before they see sense and vote to get out of the EU?

        Tad

  17. Bert Young
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    There is no evidence that Western outside involvement has had any benefit in the Middle East . Afghanistan – a continued mess , Iraq – a mess , Libya -a mess and now , Syria . The lesson surely is – stay out of it ; tribal warfare will continue no matter what happens . Equally the migrant crisis is going to present an enormous headache to the West ; the action inspired by Merkel is a huge mistake , it has now invited a tribal spin-off on to our door step !

    The decisions politicians make seem only to be influenced by the short term ; much of what they decide extends well beyond their spells as “leaders” – they do it only to enhance their immediate presence . Why can’t they see beyond the end of their noses ? ; the consequences continue for generations .

  18. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    “…too few UK MPs understand the parties, factions, religious groupings and terrorist cells that characterise modern Syria. ”

    1.Why were MPs allowed to vote on bombing Syria?
    2. Why did individual MPs allow themselves a vote?

    I believe most British people outside Parliament, given the power to vote on the issue, would have declined awaiting further information.

    In this pantomime season, on the question of MPs intelligence, let us not render a mocking chant of “Oh yes they are”,Oh no they’re not. ” The fact is the vast majority of MPs of all parties are indeed more intelligent than average. Yet they took potluck.

    Noting the overwhelming majority of Syrian “refugees” ( alleged ) as seen daily on our TV’s and, on the social media much more clearly defined,- are young males of military age, it would appear given that ownership of guns is commonplace are insufficiently motivated to fight for one side another for their country.

    Therefore what good are they to us? If they can but will not fight for their own country but run away, they most certainly will not fight for ours if need be.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Many were swayed by Hilary Benn, the orator.

      Unfortunately for us Hilary is a Europhile.

      • CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
        Posted December 21, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        Anonymous: Let’s look on the bright side:

        If Hilary Benn ever gets into Government , the EU will have and will increasingly reduce his personal and Party power to support dumbcluck ideas which led he and them to be Europhilic in the first place.

        Etc ed

  19. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    ISIL total a maximum of 35,000 over the whole… of the Middle East. The population of Syria is 22 million, not counting the Syrian young men in German hostels having a free lunch.

    Yorkshire population is about 5 million. If the whole of the 35, 000 ISIL “warriors” were to attack us, and Yorkshire people were given just one kalashnikov with a one standard 30 round magazine, we would be exporting 35,000 “warrior” dead bodies to the USA and the Far East for medical research within the day. Oh and a side-line in flogging second-hand ,kalasknikovs to Russia. We CAN fight. Unlike Syrians.

  20. LondonBob
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    The reason a faction in the West want Assad not to stand for election is that he would likely win. Encouraging recent article by Sy Hersh, the US military have been providing intel and support for the Syrian government since 2013. Not sure how much of this continues now Dempsey (JCS) and Mike Flynn (DIA) have gone.

  21. Margaret
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Siding is dangerous, but criminals should be treated equally , yet what Assad sees as punishment far exceeds the severity of the crime and the crimes committed by Assad are not seen as crimes , but national control.
    Some have quite rightly stated that the issues and different factions representation in terms of violence are complex . Yes they are , but where we see mans inhumanity to man politics don’t even have a footing bute need to tread carefully ; violence breeds violence and anger and whatever time lapses between the crime and the need for retribution , the memory and the search for vengeance will be ever present. So how can we play the peacemaker without treading on others toes? We are not in this to create martyrs or turn the other cheek ;we have a responsibility to the suffering.
    In my work I have heard such things, as I have worked for the NHS for a long time and come into contact with staff from many different countries, as In my country they would chop his hand off for stealing that phone and if this women does not wear her veil then she deserves to be raped. These are very real perceptions of the people practising in this country. How much more intensification of these type of ethics must rule in their native countries.

  22. Margaret
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    but we need to tread carefully

  23. Original Richard
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    What a mess the US and the UK have made of the Middle East as a result of our regime change policies for Iraq, Libya and Syria.

    In Syria, Mr. Cameron first wanted to bomb Mr. Assad. Now he says he wants to bomb Mr. Assad’s main opponents, ISIS, or possibly both.

    Thankfully for us in Europe the Russians have decided to take on ISIS in Syria as neither the US nor Turkey had any intention of attacking ISIS whilst they were fighting to remove Mr. Assad.

    The Russians have brought the US to the Syria negotiating table.

    And does Mr. Cameron think that the people of Libya are better off as a result of his removal of Mr. Gadaffi, especially now that ISIS have a stronghold in this country ?

    • Original Richard
      Posted December 22, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I forgot to mention the complete disaster that was Afghanistan.

      First we stupidly support the Taliban to eject the Russians. We then spend a decade fighting the Taliban ourselves at enormous cost of lives and money – which started with our leaders saying they did not expect a single shot to be fired.

      And now the Taliban are returning to take Helmand/Sangin, as expected, we find we still have troops involved and have General Lord Richards of Hertmonceux, a former commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, saying we need to go back in to the country.

      Will our leaders never learn that any military involvement in the Middle East is futile and this equally applies to Syria.

  24. Margaret
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi John.. I sent an original post and this was a correction. Did you decide not to publish?

  25. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Off Topic : You’d have thought the SNP would have had the sense, no really, to shut up on economics and especially geo-politics. They are out of oil except that subsidised at its lower sale price by the rest of the UK. Their coalmines are closed. Steel industry scuppered. Forestry and fisheries now insignificant. Sporting the idea of being 5 million people in the giant EU thinking they would ever have their way. Not wanting any nuclear defence, but without sufficient population to defend even their coastlines.

    So what does the SNP do now? It insults Trump who may be the next President of America.Strips him of awarded honours. And even if he isn’t the next President , has half Americas population following him who are rich enough to buy foreign Scots whisky..about the only remaining Scottish industry.

    I guess for fun the SNP membership stands in a huge circle as if to dance but instead each turns to the left and kicks his next of kin on the bottom.

  26. Jumeirah
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    None of you Politicians understand the Middle East/Near East – why would you? So don’t meddle in things that you can’t understand.
    Stick to stuff that you do know and if you MUST involve yourselves in areas of ‘conflict’ do so with the ‘division’ in Northern Ireland where hatred between the two persuasions needs to be resolved.
    We need to look at our own backyard first!

  27. Mitchel
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Calm down,dear-It’s only the apocalypse!

  28. Jumeirah
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    1) Hafiz Al Assad: was an autocrat who ruled over Syria with an iron fist appointing a Council of Ministers most of whom were family members and others who were loyal in the extreme – all of whom were like-minded individuals and did their Masters bidding without hesistation. He had no reason to fear them and he didn’t. He made sure that he left behind him this strong and powerful group of people to rule as he had done and they do so today with the inclusion of younger men who also relish power. He did this because he was well aware that his younger son was not the ‘strong man’ that he himself was.
    2) Bashar Al Assad: when pitched against the ruthlessness of the Council that rules Syria Bashar is a weak individual, a ‘front man’ held hostage as a figurehead and who does their bidding in order to survive. Remove the Council and you remove the power that rules Syria.

  • 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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