The agony of Syria

The heart wrenching photo of a five year old boy startled and wounded by bombing in Syria has been a wake up call the world of the ugliness and violence of the continuing Syrian civil war. Unfortunately that one boy stands as a symbol for many more children who have been killed or badly wounded in the daily atrocities against the civilian population.

Russia is playing a larger military part today than the west. It is doing so because it does not share the West’s worries about helping Assad, still the head of the official Syrian government, to put down  ISIL and other rebels and enemies. Russia is able to do so as an ally of Iran, with access to safe military facilities close to Syria. The West has to recognise today, as it does, that any involvement in Syria needs to be discussed with Russia to avoid clashes or misunderstandings.

The West’s policy to Syria has been beset by at least three major obstacles. The first is that whilst the West is strongly against ISIL, it is not in favour of the Syrian government  regime which also wishes to defeat ISIL. The West sees the violence and damage being done by Assad against his own people and country and is appalled.

The second is the West wishes to support the creation and military success of a moderate opposition to the Assad regime which also opposes Muslim fundamentalism. It has proved difficult to identify and  nurture such a moderate opposition, and to turn a moderate opposition into a tough fighting force capable of defeating  both Assad and ISIL. There are other violent extremists in the country organised loosely into fighting forces who do not fly the flag of ISIL to complicate matters. It also does not help if the West arms apparently moderate rebels, only to see the weapons fall into less friendly hands one way or another.

The third is the West is understandably reluctant to cause yet more casualties and devastation by its bombing, and  even more reluctant to send in many ground troops. The electorates of the West are concerned about the results of some past military interventions where unpleasant dictators have been successfully displaced, only for there to be a failure to establish a better democratic government in their place. The West is seeking high standards of evidence before unleashing any military strike, as it is very damaging if Western bombs end up hitting a school or hospital or wedding party instead of  known extremist forces.

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67 Comments

  1. James Wallace-Dunlop
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    You make good points. Another problem is that NATO member Turkey is bombing the one reliable & moderate anti-Assad group: the Kurds. Erdogan is not unequivocally anti ISIL, perhaps because he makes a lot of money buying cheap oil from them, and perhaps because of an underlying desire to replace Assad’s secular regime with a Sunni government (just as domestically he seeks to replace Attaturk’s secular constitution with one that gives him more power to implement an Islamist agenda)

    • Michael Cluer
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      Spot on.

  2. Mark B
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    “Russia is able to do so as an ally of Iran, with access to safe military facilities close to Syria.”

    Yes. But it has to fly over Iraqi airspace to do it. The USA and the UK have access to Turkish bases and bases in the Gulf States. So I do not understand the point ?

    What the West wants is for an ally of Russia to be removed from power and one of their own put in his place. It did not work in Libya and it did not work in Iraq, so why do people think it will be any different or better this time around ?

    Using images of dead children in order to sway public opinion without knowing the full details of what is going on is immoral. etc ed

  3. Margaret
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    It is indeed a complex set of circumstances. It is a case of which of the undesirable course should the UK pursue. The risks seem to outweigh the benefits in all action yet the risks have a potential to escalate where many more lives , children ,adults elderly alike could be ruined if not controlled somehow. Whereas Assad has a strong position to control IS, his methods hurt irrevocably. Putin takes this position as anarchy and as we regard the methods of IS it appears the only position to take .. yet !?

  4. alan jutson
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    We should stick to diplomatic and humanitarian help.

    Frustrating and heartbreaking I know to see what is going on, but for us to get more deeply involved is just complicating matters even further, and probably extending the campaign.

    If anyone is to get involved then perhaps it should be the UN who could perhaps secure safe haven areas for refugees or displaced people.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Alan J. I agree with your comments. I have no doubt there will be calls from the usual quarters for the UK to take more refugees. In my opinion, this should be firmly resisted. We have done enough. We cant take in the whole world, to the detriment of our own country, and I am hoping our Government will not buckle under the pressure, and say ‘ we must do more’, as they have so many times in the past.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Totally agree with Alan’s comments above.

    • sm
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      It seems to me that the UN has well outlived its purpose; in theory, it is the UN who should be actively involved in all these desperate issues, not just in Syria but in Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq etc etc.

      But Russia and China will always throw their spanners in the works, so the UN has become a global version of the EU – a useless, wildly expensive platitude.

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        sm

        “….UN has outlived its purpose…..”

        I somewhat agree, like most huge committee’s it can never seem to make a decision which will satisfy everyone, but you would think/hope that desperate situations like this would pull people/members together for the common cause for humanitarian sake.

      • Mitchel
        Posted August 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Russia and China have thrown their spanners in the works -and will continue to do so-because they were lied to about the nature of the West’s Libyan intervention.

        Anything that has the faintest whiff of US/EU expansionism,adventurism or attempted regime change will in future be vetoed.

        The US understands this,and now tries to use international law as a means to get their way outside the UN,whilst speaking in the name of the “international community”(their version of the “royal we”).

  5. APL
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    What makes you think Libya’s agony is any less? Cameron & Clinton turned the most ‘progressive, affluent’ country in the Maghreb into a stone age hell hole of waring Islamic factions.

    You have such a sort ( but convenient ) memory.

  6. Ian Wragg
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Sad as it is, we cannot accommodate all the displaced people in the world.
    Many of the unaccompanied children pitching up in Calais are Trojan Horses for their parents and ISIS supporters.
    The wests foreign policy in the Arab world has been an unmitigated disaster and we should get fracking and leave them to it.

  7. JimS
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The West could begin by not continuing to import Islam into its heartlands and telling us it is for the common good.

  8. Antisthenes
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    “results of some past military interventions where unpleasant dictators have been successfully displaced, only for there to be a failure to establish a better democratic government in their place”

    They say it is better the devil you know and indeed it is. Perhaps the West’s interests would have been better served if we had backed Assad before Russia did. Also not to have done a deal with Iran. Doing the opposite has further opened the can of worms that is the Middle East.

    The Middle East was already an intractable problem allowing Russia to meddle there and with China dipping it’s toe in as well a whole new set of problems have been added to the mix. The West’s has no room for manoeuvre at all now without given advantage to Russia. Post Thatcher and Reagan western leaders have made nothing but disastrous foreign policy decisions one after the other.

    etc ed

  9. Old Albion
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I would hope that having witnessed the disasters of (dis)UK involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, we would militarily stay out of it. The whole area is a mish-mash of warring Islamists. Let them sort it out.

  10. Know-dice
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Although it’s un-PC to say it, (a country like? ed) for some reason needs a strong sometimes brutal or repressive leader.

    Syria has Assad at the moment, clearly the intervention by outside parties to weaken his position has been a major cause of the instability and destruction in Syria.

    Remember the saying “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”, in this instant leave Assad in power, don’t necessarily support him, but don’t attempt to bring him down.

    Also, be aware that the anti-Assad rebels have their own agenda, which in the long term my be worse for the people of Syria than Assad.

  11. agricola
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    As with Libya and Iraq and other places in the Middle East I think our politicians prodded by our civil service totally misread the situation in Syria. We are high on democracy which in the Middle East , apart from Israel, is a totally unknown concept and not one aspired to. Big mistake on the part of the West.

    When the dust finally settles on Syria, who do you think will have the most influence on Assad. It will be Russia who pulled his arse out of the fire. We had a window in which we could have sided with Russia and therefore had influence in the aftermath, but we missed out. We have in effect allowed Assad’s Syria to become best friends with Russia and opened a door for the latter into the Mediterranean. That our politicians and the Foreign Office could not sus this out after Iraq and Libya is lamentable on their part.

    Devastated and torn children are great for that vast industry of charitable tin rattlers, but by the time it happens the politicos have lost the plot. It has now overflowed in the form of a biblical exodus of refugees, economic migrants and a few jihadis into the streets of Europe where democracy is almost equally fragile and an alien concept to those who run the EU. One monumental cock up seemingly beyond the intellectual scope of those in power in the EU, which in turn will lead to the very catastrophe that the EU was designed to avoid.

    • zorro
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Our civil service – diplomatically, completely out of its depth…..

      zorro

  12. Graham
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Must keep the worlds ‘leaders’ awake at night – wondering where to meddle next.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Under Assad Syria was a country in which a young British lady I know could live and have fun – only a few years ago.

    Dictators (however unpalatable to the sixth former led West) held the Middle East together.

    When we destabilised them disintegration happened, which turned out far worse.

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    There is certainly no point in the sort of half baked, ill thought through, under resourced, counterproductive and disastrous interventions we have seen under Blair and indeed from Cameron.

  15. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    A Syrian may have an opinion on the UK and our government. He may refer to other people and nations in his most wide of locales as The East as we speak ambiguously of The West for all I know. However it would be quite nastily arrogant of him and certainly none of his proper business if he were to argue matter-of-factly about the virtues or otherwise in supplying arms to Corbynites, SNPers, UKIPers or IRA-ers. It is a not a” therefore ” we should mind our own business about Syria and Syrians. Just rather a splendid idea befitting civilised thought and talk.

  16. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    You would have thought we would have learnt from Iraq. I don’t know what the answer is when you have people living under oppression in another country. But giving them half-hearted encouragement and support to fight a civil war is clearly not a good idea.

  17. Iain Gill
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    A wider problem with Syria is the Turkish border, Turkey being in NATO, Turkey’s actions in sending tanks and warplanes over the border and shooting up the good, the bad, and everybody else.
    Not so long ago our own Royal Marines were over the border protecting Kurds, often from Turkey our supposed NATO ally.
    Now the decent people of Syria, whoever and wherever they are, are as likely to be attacked by a NATO ally as they are by ISIL or whatever we are calling them this week.
    To be a force for good in the world, our actions, and the actions of NATO, have got to look reasonable and proportionate and generally on the side of the good guys to the child growing up in the region. And at the moment NATO does not look like its smelling of roses either.
    NATO should really review whether Turkey, Bulgaria, and so on should really be full members of NATO. I for one wouldn’t want my son to die protecting their borders.

  18. McBrde
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    It is clear to me that the Syrian conflict is about the desire for the West to create a gas pipeline through the country, to deter European decency on Russian energy.
    I have a friend who’s work colleague was wife to the British ambassador to Syria who has confirmed this.

    I have also been suspicious of the West’s claims about this dictator killing his own people. That emotive argument has been used successfully with Iraq and Libya. A close examination of the evidence in the case of the latter will provide no proof at all.

    • McBryde
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I’d like to fix a typo [and I’ll try to remember to check my posts in future!].
      Please replace ‘decency’ with ‘dependency’ :
      “…to deter European dependency on Russian energy.”

  19. brian
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Russia is active in Syria because it wants to retain its sea and air bases. Similar motive in Crimea.

  20. Nigel
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    When will politicains learn to accept that not all countries and societies are ready or suited to western style democracy?
    Would the problems in Syria have been greater or less if we had not supported the Saudi backed faction that was intent on toppling Assad, backed byt their arch enemy Iran?
    Sometimes, maybe, we have to accept a lesser evil, and stand back from other people’s conflict.

    • libertarian
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Nigel

      Made worse by the fact we have absolutely no democracy here either !

      Before we lecture anyone else we need to
      1) Scrap House of Lords
      2) Put in place an English parliament
      3) Directly elect our PM and government

  21. Mitchel
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    In addition China is increasing it’s support for Assad and moving from covert to overt.It is also claiming this week that the photo of the little dust-and-blood covered little boy is a propaganda stunt by the West.

    This conflict has become a test of willpower between the Euro-Atlantic bloc of countries and the Eurasian bloc.

  22. BrynP
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I see as appalling the violence and damage caused to Syria by the WEST and by our encouragement of Turkey and the supply of weapons to our so-called Saudi and Quatari “friends”. Under what justification did we ever have the right to tell the Syrians who they should choose as their own leader? The world is filled with undesirable dictators, many far worse than Assad. Our original decision to interfere in Syria was based purely on what we considered to be our own selfish strategic interests and no doubt those of Israel.

  23. Chris S
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Regrettably I think there is nothing we can say or do that will help solve the problems in the Middle East generally or Syria in particular.

    If there is one lesson that Western Politicians and the liberal media should have learned by now, it is that democracy is not a system that can be made to work everywhere.

    It’s an inconvenient truth that there are countries in some regions of the world that can only be managed and held together by a strong dictator. The only question being what level of policing and even violence is required to hold things together to enable the majority of the population to live a reasonable life.

    Can anyone seriously suggest that the life of the average Iraqi is better now than it was under Saddam Hussain ? One might ask Women, Christians and other religious minorities in Libya the same question.

    If the young men of Syria are more interested in selfishly trying to flee to Europe for what they see as a better life rather than stay and fight to make their own country fit to live in for their own families, there is little hope of a satisfactory outcome.

    How much longer are English taxpayers going to have to put up with subsidising a Scottish deficit three times larger that our own and, at the same time, put up with all the abuse and bile from the SNP and its supporters ?

    Any responsible government would reign in spending or increase taxes to keep the deficit within bounds but not Sturgeon and her Socialist friends.

    This year we are paying £15bn to enable her to maintain higher public spending to the tune of £2,000 a head, free prescriptions and so she can continue to discriminate against English students by charging them tuition fees while keeping them free for Scottish and other EU students.

    This wanton spending spree has to stop !

    The UK Government needs to introduce some control here. The Scottish deficit should be pegged to no more than that of England with any additional spending coming from Scottish taxpayers alone.

    Sturgeon is treating the English taxpayers as gullible fools and our politicians are allowing her to get away with it.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Chris S. I live in Scotland and have to put up with all this farce and bile from the SNP. We are English but many of our friends are Scottish and educated. They know Scotland cannot survive on its own. They all despise what the SNP are doing ‘on behalf of the Scots’. It sickens us all when she says she is speaking for Scotland. NO, SHE IS NOT. We met with other friends today at Loch Lomond. He is Scottish and she is English and they have lived in England for years. They were saying that they and many English people they know are fed up supporting Scotland when they are so ungrateful. We explained to them that many of us are ashamed and wish it wasn’t like this. Quite honestly, the best thing that could happen is if the SNP disappeared off the face of the earth and we got the only party capable of running Scotland in, the conservatives. We are all sick to death of referendums and the hatred it causes in families and amongst work colleagues and friends. If it looks as though independence is going to come then we are off and many others will follow. We would be quite happy to pay for our prescriptions, education, dental check ups, eye checkups etc. I resent the fact that my daughter and son who are living in England and paying taxes don’t get what the Scots get and yet contribute to their lifestyle. My son has a large debt after going to uni unlike the Scots children who get off with free education at the expense of the English. This has to stop and a little respect from Scotland would go a long way.

  24. rose
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    We have a weak American president: that is at the root of this Russian resurgence.

    Were those Syrian chemical weapons by any chance smuggled over the border from SH’s Iraq?

  25. Newmania
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    As with all multidimensional international questions the best solution would be to ask the “People “ to register there discontent with some unrelated matter and force the government into some ill-defined and highly dangerous course along the lines of “Bomb Syria means bomb Syria”. Ignoring the opinions of or allies would be advisable as well as every expert on the subject ……

    After all that would be “democratic “, not that I disagree with a syllable of Mr Redwoods post

    Two things on this

    If it has become the opinion of “The people” that once the West has acted we shall be obliged to accept the blame for any event in the subsequent history of a region then I would like Conservative to contest and inform the ”popular” opinion. Corbyn and his ilk may enjoy joining dots in a fashion as to endless increase self-loathing but the Conservative Party I used to vote for with such enthusiasm stood against him.
    I still support Iraq , I find the inability of the West to act and its growing fragmented isolationism a bad thing and the reduction of everything form the state of the Nation to Foreign Policy to an arresting emotional iconography an appalling spectacle. Some time around the Bulger case, Lady Di and Iraq this country seems to have gone a bit mad to me but I digress ….

    My own instinct is that in-action is the more dangerous course and more generally that some realism needs to be reintroduced foreign Policy .

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      “As with all multidimensional international questions the best solution would be to ask the “People “ to register there discontent with some unrelated matter… blah blah… Ignoring the opinions of or allies would be advisable as well as every expert on the subject …… blah blah…”

      The debates were had. The opinions were not ignored. The vote was cast. YOU lost.

      Now grow up and get over it !

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        And if the invasion of Iraq was something you support then that’s yet another thing to discredit you.

    • Juno
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      The People would have said ‘don’t get involved’ on this and Iraq. And we would all have been a lot better off for it.

    • Yudansha
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Newmania – Doubtless we’ll get the BBC, Guardian and single issue pressure groups dictating international policy as usual, instead of the People.

      It is with analloyed joy that I watch you losing your temper and getting shirty on this blog. I relish seeing your comments every day and you making a complete and utter twerp of yourself. DO keep it up.

      (It also affirms my belief that their is a section of the middle class that has – hitherto – been pleased to rub the plebs’ noses in it and can’t stand the boot on the other foot.)

  26. Bert Young
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Evidence from past centuries show that outside intervention in the Middle East achieves nothing . The situation today is no different and we are fools to even consider further involvement . That Assad is a bad ruler is beyond dispute ; that tribal warfare and disagreement exists and will continue is also beyond dispute . The West has nothing to offer as a solution and we ought to have enough sense to recognise this .

    Today the relevance of the position of the Middle East as a potential barrier to links in the Far East and the emphasis of oil to the world are no longer the strategic threats they were ; we have no reason to concern ourselves .

    Humanitarian crises exist all over the place but do not get the frequent publicity of Syria and the Middle East . If action is to be taken is has to be from the initiative of the UN and in keeping with all the problem conditions that exist in the world – not just those in Syria .

  27. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    off Topic;
    Last night/this morning, I watched on the internet Nigel Farage give his speech to a Trump rally in Jackson MS. He seemed to take credit for solely taking the UK out of the EU. He cannot be all bad. He can hold his drink and does. Pity his possible replacements are not up to it. Especially political leadership beyond a Lower Sixth hobby club.
    But the idea the result of the Referendum was the work of one man reminds me of a Sean Connery James Bond movie:-

    Miss Moneypenny: “What are you going to do now?”
    Bond : “I’m going to single-handedly kill every terrorist in the western world ”
    Miss Moneypenny: “Oh do be careful James. “

    • mike fowle
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      You can find Nigel’s speech via Guido’s site. Judge for yourself.

      • CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        mike fowle;
        You can find the FULL Trump rally featuring the FULL Introduction to Farage and the FULL Farage speech and the FULL aftermath of the speech on the internet 24th august 2016 . Judge for yourself, in FULL

    • ian wragg
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Nigel was certainly the main player in the race for a referendum. His relentless put down of the establishment and their lies frightened Cameron into giving one.
      No one in the Tory or Liebor party was a fraction as successful as him in holding the government to account.
      History will judge him well. Unlike Cast Iron Cameron.

      • Sunshine
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. I keep thinking I’m missing some facts about Nigel Farage that his detractors know and I don’t.
        He seems to deserve a medal to me.
        Is it that” they ” tried to pin racism on him ? Being against the mass movement of continents populations to achieve globalisation isn’t racism.

        • rose
          Posted August 26, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          ‘The name which ought to be, and which will be, associated with the success of these measures is the name of a man who, acting, I believe, from pure and disinterested motives, has advocated their cause with untiring energy, and by appeals to reason, expressed by an eloquence the more to be admired because it was unaffected and unadorned – the name of Richard Cobden.’ The then defeated PM’s gracious tribute to the 19th century’s Nigel Farage. What a contrast with our own day.

  28. bigneil
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    OT
    I see the latest “good news ” on immigration figures. Only 327,000 new arrivals who will expect, and get, taxpayer funded NHS – which also is in the news as a hospital has stopped teen A&E for a time , apparently due to staff shortages. I’m sure another near 1/3rd of a million users who haven’t contributed a penny will help the situation.
    Is the drop in figures going to be claimed by T.May as “govt policy working” – or is it the rest of the world is running out of people to come and freeload?

    • rose
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      They only give you the net figures and don’t include the short stayers. So many more people will be signing up with your GP.

      • ian wragg
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        ad the figure is only an estimate, the supermarkets reckon its near double that annually.

      • graham1946
        Posted August 26, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        They won’t be signing up with the doctors in our town. The two practices have closed their books and are looking to get rid of some they don’t want. Yet still the government are forcing the town to accept another 5000 plus houses to be built on green field good farm land. What is the matter with politicians? Have they lost their ability to think things out? Or it it their short shelf life leads them not to care much? Mostly they seem not to be from the areas they represent and are parachuted in by their parties and will move out again just as quickly.

        • rose
          Posted August 26, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          It is very simple: they mind more about what the Guardian thinks than about what we think, let alone what is common sense. Why did Mrs May ditch her practical and sensible proposal to come out of the ECHR? Because she thought it would help her mission to get to number ten unopposed. And it did.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      So where did we find all the houses needed????? Or is it a case of homes being turned into dumps like we find in eastern countries? Alas, this is happening more and more and I really feel for ordinary households surrounded by this dross.

  29. LondonBob
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    The moderate Sunnis are all fighting in the Syrian Arab Army. Actually I believe the White Helmets, an organisation we finance, propagandised that image. Quite why we are involved in this I do not know, we had good relations with Syria before and can do so again. Time to listen to our former ambassador and our generals, accept Assad and the Syrian government, pressure the regional players to stop supporting the rebels, end sanctions and look to return the refugees.

  30. Peter
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    The struggle between the two major strands of Islam – Sunni and Shi’ite – has been festering since the schism over Mohammed’s successor in the 7th century. Alas, since Islam specifies death for “takfir” and apostasy its a struggle to the end. Iran is of course the Shi’ite leader, and Saudi the Sunni eqivalent. Syria/Yemen/Bahrain/ are in the middle. I do not want our blood and treasure expended vainly trying to mediate in someone else’s religious war. It was bad enough in Northern Ireland… I think we have to let the Arabs sort this one out on their own.

  31. James Winfield
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    A wake-up call? After 5 years of civil war?

    It should be noted that Iran has revoked Russia’s access to its air base too – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/23/world/middleeast/iran-russia-syria.html?_r=0

  32. Mick
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/703801/Migrants-rescued-Kent-Dover-border-force
    No doubt the Syria civil war will be blamed for this, maybe, maybe not but the fact is were letting these illegals stay then disappear into our country, not to mention the hundreds that are problely getting through, either take them straight back to France or lock them up with no hearing because there illegal and ship them back to were they came from, the people are watching reading and listening Mr Redwood and if there isn’t a substantial change in the way your party deals with it your party along with lab/Libs/snp/ greens will feel the power of the people at the ballot box next GE

  33. mickc
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    The”West” is most certainly NOT “strongly against ISIS!

    (para left out re Saudi Arabia)
    Unsurprisingly, Russia has gone to the aid of its ally, Assad, the recognised government of Syria, rightly understanding that there simply is no “moderate opposition to Assad”.

    In Syria, the choice is Assad, or chaos and barbarism.

    The UK should not be involved in this total fubar, we have no vital interests there.

    Just for once, let us not be America’s streetwalker; there’s nothing in it for us.

  34. Gary
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Start from the stance that the west govts created and arms isil after the respective govts bids to invade syria were defeated by vote, and you will make more sense of this genocidal outrage.

  35. fedupsoutherner
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Just a thought. One of the last sentences spoken on our visit with our friends today was about Enoch Powell and his famous speech. I’m sure you all know which one I refer to. Have to be PC after all. How true it all was and yet he was treated with the same contempt as Farage has been.

    • rose
      Posted August 26, 2016 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      I find myself quoting him on all sorts of subjects. It does elicit intolerance from the predictable quarters, invariably peopl who haven’t read him, only what was taken out of context and misquoted, but he covered many great questions and they are still relevant today.
      On the great question of the day, he had lived in India and had seen the terrible bloodshed brought on by communalism at first hand. As a young soldier he may even have had to clear up the bodies. He will certainly have known people who did.

  36. Jumeirah
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    We (UK) should not be involved at all.
    Assad warned at the very very beginning that to destabilise Syria would bring a collection of diverse armed factions to the Country which would ultimately lead to a catastrophe. Whilst he raised this point to save himself nonetheless he also knew that he was right and so did the West, Russia, KSA and Iran – the major players in this debacle. Assad like his father Hafiz before him is, as the world knows, a coldblooded, ruthless Dictator and a “survivor’ and supremely confident,with his team around him, that he will win this and it turns the stomach to admit this in view of the horrendous loss of life and human misery that this has caused but he has played a blinder in that he has been able to draw Russia into the “game”(as his Regime sees it), Iran already on side for many years; all kinds of factions fighting him but more often than not fighting amongst themselves and finally having Daesh in occupation and using that to divert on-going attention towards them and away from him. Dictators dont care what you think of them and will do whatever it takes to remain in power. The UN is a frontispiece for inactivity – a Paper Tigger. USA, Russia, KSA (Sunni) and Iran (Shia) need to negotiate a settlement and reach a compromise amongst themselves first before going onto fix the solution for Syria and it is only these that can do it. Everyone else should stand down and stand clear. There are many in the Middle East and almost within Europe who are ruthless Dictatorships with appalling Human Rights records – it’s what happens there – it’s the way they do business. We cant change them all and unfortunately neither should we try by force of arms directly or indirectly as there will never be an “After Plan”that works as history has shown quite clearly – the only result being appalling bloodshed and loss of life and a catastrophic human tragedy. Syria : These 4 Nations have the power to stop this if they want to but the question is ‘Do they want to?’

  37. mickc
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    The paragraph about Saudi Arabia was rather the key point!

  38. XYZ
    Posted August 26, 2016 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Just clicked on that map of visitors thing on the sidebar. Trying to work out who I am. Might have to ration my views. Its too addictive.

  39. Ronald Olden
    Posted September 2, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37249847

    If any of these children are legally entitled to be in the UK, and it appears that some of them are, they should be brought in immediately and settled with loving adoptive families, or whoever else they have in the UK to look after them, not left to rot in this French camp.

    But we will not be doing what the French Authorities seem to be demanding, and processing in France, people who choose to seek asylum in the UK. Asylum seekers are supposed to seek asylum in the first safe country they arrive in. When I last looked France counts as a ‘safe country’. These people are congregating in this camp because they want to come and live in Britain, rather than seek asylum and stay on the continent.

    If they are genuine asylum seekers they will be entitled to receive asylum in France. If they’re not satisfied with that they can go back where they came from.

  • 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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