Sunday, September 15, 2013

Syria - a few weeks on.

Syria has almost disappeared from the Westminster agenda. After what many of us thought the fiasco of the 'recall' of Parliament over two weeks ago, its no longer a 'hot' issue. But it remains hugely important. I felt the need to reflect on where I see things at today. No doubt the perspective will change again over the next few months/years. Would not be surprised to be drawn into the occasional post on the issue.

It now seems fairly clear that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people. This will be confirmed by the UN. Use of such weapons has been a worldwide taboo for a century, and crosses an internationally agreed 'red line'. There has to be an international response. If not, the message to offensive dictatorships are obvious. So far most of us will agree. Where we might disagree is the form that response should take. Initially, it seemed that the US President and the UK Prime Minister favoured military intervention - generally thought to be limited to Tomahawk rockets being used to degrade Assad's military capacity. Many MPs, across all parties did not favour this course - certainly without a much stonger and more stategic case being made. Many were unsure that such a strike would improve the security position in the Middle East. And many of us wanted certainty about what the precise objectives of the strike were to be. The upshot was that the motion put before MPs did not authorise military intervention - which meant I could support it. In the event, the 'meaningless' motion was defeated, as was a meaningless amendment tabled by the Opposition. No motion of any sort was passed. I did not good position for the British Govt to be in. I would have preferred options to have been kept open. But the Prime Minister was left with little choice other than to act as he did - telling us he "gets it", and immediately announced that there would be no British involvement in any military action.

Reality is that the only world military power capable of a meaningful strike is the US, and it soon became clear that despite all his threats and posturing about action, President Obama decided not to. What followed is too convoluted for a blog post. Reality is that instead, Russia's leader, Vladimir Putin took over leadership of the issue. He is now leading the talks on removing chemical weapons from Syrian soil, allowing President Obama to give impression to his electorate that he's still calling some shots. In the short term this is a very good result. None of us can predict where military action would have led. But it seems to me that there are two significant consequences. Firstly, Bashar-al-Assad is now secure as the Syrian leader. While the leaders of the world are discussing with Assad the decommissioning of his chemical weapons, there can hardly be a serious attempt to remove him from office. And secondly, Syria is now securely within the ambit of Russian influence. Assad owes Putin big-time. Syria may well become, in effect, part of a new Russian empire. In terms of international politics, Mr Putin has played a 'blinder' and is the only and overwhelming victor of the gas attack on innocent people by Assad.

Perhaps it will look a bit different in a few weeks time.


Anonymous said...

Can we send you to Syria, Glyn? I'm becoming board of reading your anti wind farm comments on facebook all the time!

Glyn Davies said...

Why on earth don't you just defriend me, or block me, or whatever you do to avoid me. Its easy enough

Robin Larder said...

I am mindful that John Kerry actually played a big role in this, which has largely gone unreported. After a speech by Kerry he was asked if there was anything at all that Syria could do to stop a military strike. He said there was. He said that Syria must put their chemical weapons under UN control and they must come up with a good plan to do this within the week. He added that he didn't think they would do it.
Well, the very next day Syria agreed to do it. Until John Kerry put this on the table there had been no thought about this. So... I do not put this down to a Russian initiative, rather as Syria approaching Russia to broker a deal whereby they could comply with exactly what John Kerry had said was the only way they could avoid a military strike.

Anonymous said...

'I for one' like reading our Glyn's comments on any subject - especially about wind farms - perhaps because I agree with him! cw

Anonymous said...

I follow you because I pay your salary. You are a public servant and I have the right to read what you are saying on any issue. I also have the right to agree or disagree with you. I will un-follow you when you are no longer in a position to represent me.

As someone who couldn't give two hoots either way about wind farms or pylons (we used to live in Shropshire where there are existing pylons in beautiful countryside and I moved my family to an area where there are existing wind turbines which have benefited the community) The issue takes up far too much of my news feed, and what for? You don't seam to be getting anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad that the Foreign Secretary Hague did not get what he wanted.

As it is, Syria has finally admitted that it has chemical WMDs and have agreed to their neutralization under UN supervision. cw

Yes, Russia got brownie points and Assad is assured he will remain in place absent a surprise victory by opposition forces.

Personally, I never accepted that the current Assad is the monster portrayed by William Hague.

I was at Glasgow University when Assad was there. He is not a monster, and was open to respecting other faiths including the Catholic faith. He never wanted to be the next leader of Syria. He wanted to be an eye doctor and be out of politics. He was a fine young man.

It did not surprise me that many years later he invited The Pope to his country. That is the kind of man and gentleman he is.

Hague's view of the current Assad leader was warped beyond measure.

As to the atrocities that have taken place, the 100,000 deaths. This is awful, but there's a civil war going on.

There is NO CHANCE of a democratic system like we have (in the UK/USA/Europe/India/etc). There are too many disparate groups (including radical groups with links to global terror) at each other's throats who want absolute power. If the current Assad was removed from power the Christian towns will probably be crushed and their churches destroyed.