When I and others opposed UK military intervention in Syria, we did so in part because we did not see a side we wished to be on. We were no admirers of Assad, spun then as the demon dictator, whom Mr Hague wanted to oust from office. We were told there were moderate opposition forces who could take over and run a western style democratic government, if we helped them dislodge the dictator.
I read about the opposition, and met some of them when Mr Hague invited them to London. It was already clear that parts of the opposition had more in common with Al Qaeda than with western liberal style democracy. One of the dangers lay in arming the so called moderate rebels, only to see the weapons get into the hands of the terrorist rebels either by agreement or by violence.
Today we learn of the capture of Idlib by Jabhat-al-Nusra, an important part of the Syrian opposition forces but scarcely a group of pro western moderates. Syria is now split between Assad in Damascus, Al Nusra in Idlib and ISIL in Raqqa.
Meanwhile conflict has spread to Yemen, with Saudi and other Sunni forces intervening militarily against the Shia interests. Libya remains badly war torn and split into warring bands.
I do not want the UK supporting either Sunni or Shia forces in these religious wars. I do not see how we could intervene helpfully to try to settle a democratic answer to the governing problems of Iraq, Syria, Libya or Yemen. The recent conquest of Idlib is a reminder of how complex these wars are, and how well supported on the ground some of the extremist movements still are.