Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bashar-al-Assad - force for evil or stability?

There cannot be any doubt that the Syrian President, Bashar-al-Assad is an evil tyrant, who deserves to be removed from power. He has murdered huge numbers of innocent civilians using weapons of  mass destruction. I would never have thought it possible to hear favourable comments about such an awful man. But today we read of the success of Assad's army, backed by Putin's bombers having driven the even more evil Daesh out of the ancient city of Palmyra, saving much of it's historical treasure, and civilian lives. The Middle East really is an impossible place to read.
There have been two crucial debates in Parliament over last couple of years. It's interesting for each of us who were MPs during these debates to reflect on what we thought and did at the time, and judge whether it was right, with the benefit of hindsight. 
 The first debate was when Parliament was recalled from summer recess to vote on a motion giving authority to the Prime Minister for a military strike against Damascus. I left home fully expecting to vote against such action - mainly because I could not see how it would improve the position. Lots of other MPs must have done likewise, because the Govt motion eventually put before us condemned Assad, but required another vote in Parliament before action could take place. This was a very different question and I was content to support the Prime Minister on this. But Ed Miliband (in my view) behaved utterly disgracefully, refused to back the motion, putting a similar slightly differently worded motion forward himself. The British Parliament looked idiotic in the eyes of the watching world. Both motions were defeated. And that was the end of that. Assad was free to do his worst to his own people.
Until terrorists, thought to be linked to the Middle a East conflict launched a terrible attack in the centre of Paris. The French Govt sought British help. Britain was already conducting military operations in Iraq, and the Prime Minister sought authority from MPs to conduct limited military action over the border in Syria. Along with most MPs, I felt this was the right action to take. Daesh is utterly evil, and it must be crushed. There can be no peace until Daesh is no more. And no solution to the displacement of the Syrian population. Already around 10 million Syrians have been driven from their homes in what is probably the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
Now, I do not know how to react to Assad, backed by Putin, driving Daesh out of much of Syria. It's a choice of evils. But I do have to ask myself whether anything can be worse than Daesh, and that any setback to such evil can be anything but welcomed.


mairede thomas said...

The following FT article in today's paper is worth a read "intelligence agencies fight to unravel isis network in Europe"

Robin Larder said...

I thought the time to act against Assad was the very second he used chemical weapons against his own people.
I think things would have been very different today if the coalition forces had imposed a no fly zone over most of Syria.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

It is self-apparent that MPs are behind the wave right now; you 'all need to come up to speed. Be advised: there is talk in Washington that the USA is better off teaming up with Russia (as a counter weight to China) and let Europe essentially go its own way vis-à-vis Europe's defense. Trump recently said that NATO and US forces in Europe rely on the US too much and the (financial) cost to the USA is too high. Also, China is seen as the growing thread and Putin is beginning to realize that Russia will become a junior partner in the Russian-Chinese axis (originally) to counter "US hegemony". A US/Russian axis makes more sense - this proposed doctrine is gaining prominence in light of Russia's military intervention in Syria wherein the US previously thought Russia could not sustain such a military campaign; and Russia's new advanced weapons has caused the Pentagon to sit up and take notice. Putin is now, if not previously, viewed in new light/respect.

Ann Jones said...

Glyn there is far more to this than Assad.For america & Britian it's all about control of oil & banks .Saudi Arabia commit crimes to their citizens & because they are one of our biggest customers for arms, Britain turns a blind eye & carries on selling arms.Wars make massive money for America & Britian. So we need to ask the question why does our county sell arms to the Middle East?