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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What to do about Syria

Western politicians mean well ... they are just naive.
Western politicians are duplicitous.  They manipulate events to their own advantage.

I have heard both comments from Christians in and from the Middle East.  The recent expiry of the arms embargo in the European Union means that the UK Government will soon be arming the anti-Government forces ... but WHICH anti-Government forces?  How will our Government ensure that its arms do not fall into the hands of jihadists?  Is there such a thing as a "good rebel" .... committed to freedom, democracy and a truly pluralistic Syria after Assad?

I personally believe that any military intervention by the west in Syria is at best unwise and potentially, disastrous.  This is rapidly becoming a proxy war between Arab States in the Middle East and their oil hungry western backers and a Russian-Iranian axis concerned to protect its own interests in the region.  It may may be a civil war at the moment but it has all the ingredients and precedents from history to become a regional then international conflict, even, God forbid, a Third World War.

Bashar in Damascus is not going to back down and his control of the south and readiness to retake the north is building momentum.  Iran is not going to walk away from the Middle East and Hezbollah will continue to mobilise with fellow Shiites and derivative sects against Sunni insurgencies in traditionally Shiite controlled areas from Baghdad to Beirut.  Western involvement in this mess is only going to make things worse ... and certainly for religious minorities such as Christians in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

It is very easy of course to get people emoting on 24/7 western news channels about the truly terrible suffering in Syria and then use that as a mandate for military intervention. But, the "cure" must not be worse than the disease.  The so called rebels will never take Damascus and with the regime digging in and pushing back north to recoup their losses the straight choice is between the Balkanisation of Syria and attempting to foster its evolution towards an inclusive political settlement.

Only those with "clean hands" will be able to play a role in the second option, (the first is too terrible to contemplate).  Today the UK stands at the crossroads.  Will it genuinely become even handed and work with a coalition of the willing in Syria or will it tragically take sides - even more starkly than it has already done - and arguably make both the local and international situation much worse?

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