Back in October, when Russia committed forces to the conflict in Syria, I predicted that“At last there may be an end in sight to the disaster that Western foreign policy has landed upon Syria, formerly one of the most stable and secular nations in the Middle East.” (see that blog here)
Now, just five months later, it looks like an end to five years of conflict may have finally arrived, as Russia begins to remove its forces from the field. This was never an actual civil war, with the fight against Assad’s government being funded by and often fought by non-Syrian interest groups.
During three weeks of a successful ceasefire in Syria, our news media has given more coverage to the refugee crisis than to this positive turn of events that holds the promise of ending that crisis. If this peace holds and settles, it will soon be possible for millions of Syrians to return home and rebuild their nation. Despite all the fervent anti-Assad propaganda fed to our media it is worth remembering that there was no refugee crisis before the war began. The vast majority of Syrians were happy living in beautiful Syria, with a secular government more democratic and uncorrupted than some of our major allies, and more popular than that of Francoise Holland in France.
War is horrendous and in my book (below) I suggest it is possible for humanity to live together in peace and harmony without the need to slaughter each other in its pursuit. But as long as we accept organized killing as a normal feature of civilization, wars will continue to bring death, destruction and anguish. Who is unleashing this and whether it arrives in Hellfire missiles or barrel bombs is not the point.
When we are not destroying things we display a remarkable ability to create them, and the one is not dependent upon the other. Let us hope and pray that this recent ceasefire leads to lasting peace and a return to normality in this beautiful part of the world.
At last there may be an end in sight to the disaster that Western foreign policy has landed upon Syria, formerly one of the most stable and secular nations in the Middle East. One also with a strong military force that held stocks of unused chemical weapons primarily to counter the threat of Israel’s nuclear stockpile. It initially seemed clear that Assad had not used Sarin in a fight he was already winning at Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus where his soldiers were stationed.
After the propaganda machines weighed in though, you could be forgiven for thinking Assad would do something so incredibly stupid, soon after Obama declared use of chemical weapons to be America’s “red line.” Assad isn’t stupid. We should follow the money and ask who benefited? The rebel terrorists and the arms industry profited as countless millions of taxpayers’ money was poured into funding the “moderate” opposition, prolonging a conflict that was nearing its end. That opposition, the Free Syrian Army is now little more than a name, but one we hear more of than the hundreds of other militias in the field, predominantly Islamic.
If successful, the so-called revolution that we have been fanning and funding would inevitably lead to the absorption of Syria into the expanding Islamic State, a body that was underwritten by Western money and armaments, now supplemented by oil and taxation revenues from conquered lands. Islamic State are not stupid either, just a new and very upstart state. Should they succeed, it would not be revolution, but conquest. Western efforts to combat IS have been singularly ineffective, with the world’s mightiest war machine unable or unwilling to halt their progress. There is little doubt that if Assad falls Islamic State would rapidly incorporate or eliminate every other faction in the fight, destroy any remaining ancient monuments and be irreversibly en route to one day claiming a seat at the United Nations.
Is this where we want to go?
Is it not a strange turn of affairs that tough-guy Vladimir Putin, the West’s current favourite bad guy, should be the only world leader to realize this is not a good place to go? He may be a gangster, but at least he’s his own gangster and not manipulated by the dark shadowy forces of the military industrial complex that American President Eisenhower warned us of and Kennedy strongly condemned. In Sept 2013 Putin narrowly stopped the US from going on a Syrian bombing spree (prompted by allegations of chemical weapons use) through getting Assad’s agreement to clear out and hand over Syria’s entire chemical weapons stock. Clever move, and one hugely frustrating to those who control the US.
So now Russia steps into the arena, openly and at the request of the legitimate Syrian government. They realize that terrorists are terrorists – these are not revolutionaries seeking democracy and would all meld into IS if Assad fell. Why screw around playing one side against the other, unless you are manipulated by those conflict-loving forces of which Kennedy and Eisenhower spoke? That’s the positive side of being a gangster boss politician – you’re in nobody’s pockets but your own and see no benefit in waging war for the sake of war itself. Even in Crimea, the minimal fighting stopped once Russia’s objective was achieved. Conflict for conflict’s sake is not on the Russian agenda. Curious how we rail about Russian jets straying into Turkish airspace while our jets bomb hospitals and our close ally Saudi Arabia kills thousands of civilians in Yemen with the weapons we supply.
Yes it’s strange for me, a passionate advocate of non-violence to be rallying behind military effort by a powerful state. As do most, I long to see the war over so that refugees can return to rebuild their lives, and believe Russian action could achieve this goal. When we watched refugees flooding into Germany they were fleeing the fighting, NOT politics or religious persecution. Most of them would love to go home. Human beings are amazing animals, able to rebuild lives, towns and cities, as did Europe and Asia after the last big war. Hiroshima and Dresden thrive today. We can do it.
The fighting has to stop.
Full power to you Russia.
History will be grateful.