Thursday, 15 December 2016

Would Syria be better under ISIS rule?


The situation in Syria is appalling beyond words. The scale of human suffering has been absolutely enormous for years and in December 2016 the battle for Aleppo has caused even more death, destruction and misery.

A common human response to human suffering is to look for someone to blame, but in Syria the situation is too complicated to fit simplistic "good vs evil" narratives about how Russia, Iran, and the Syrian government are the bad guys, and the insurgents as the good guys.

An awful lot of media commentators are using the suffering in Aleppo to push "good vs evil" narratives as a concerted propaganda drive. The majority of the Western media are focusing on criticising the Syrian government, the Russians and the Iranians. While the Russian media focus on criticising the Islamist terrorists, their Western and middle eastern backers and the opportunistic involvement of Turkey.

Perhaps the best way to look at the ongoing tragedy in Syria is to consider any armed participants as the "baddies" no matter which side they're on, and the poor unarmed civilians still trapped in the middle of the violence as the only "goodies".

Anyhow, there are always a few cold-hearted cynics who can look at a vast human tragedy like Aleppo solely as a convenient excuse to push their own warped political agendas. To this kind of person all of the appalling human suffering is easily worthwhile because it gives them a wonderful opportunity to settle old political scores and rewrite history the way they would have liked it to have been.

In 2013 David Cameron became the first Prime Minister to lose a war vote since 1782 when Westminster MPs (including a large number of Tory party rebels) derailed his ill-conceived rush to war.

This humiliating historical defeat still rankles with a lot of Tories of the neo-conservative persuasion, and these sickening opportunists are now crawling out of the woodwork to use the terrible suffering in Aleppo to try to redefine David Cameron's failed rush to war as some kind of brilliant "missed opportunity" to secure peace.


The problem with this kind of absurd historical revisionism (as exemplified in this appalling article) is obvious to anyone with even the remotest understanding of the region and its recent history.

In 2013 David Cameron was pushing the same interventionist ideology that created the vast humanitarian disaster in Iraq from 2003 onward, and another huge humanitarian disaster in Libya from 2011 onward. The lesson that should have been learned from both of those catastrophes is that the removal of an authoritarian dictator may be a noble intention in itself, but the creation of political power vacuums is a very dangerous game to play and can make bad situations very much worse.

The power vacuum in Iraq resulted in years of dangerous instability and sectarian violence, eventually culminating in the rise of ISIS. And the power vacuum in Libya has empowered and emboldened a load of Islamist extremists there too. Only a fool could have thought that weakening the Assad regime when the region was being flooded by Saudi-backed Jihadists would be a good move from a humanitarian perspective.

One of the leaked Hillary Clinton emails dated August 17th 2014 admitted that Saudi Arabia and Qatar "are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region".

It was always beyond obvious that ISIS was being bankrolled by our so-called allies in the region (and now we have the evidence to prove that the American have known it perfectly well for several years). It's also obvious from Western interventionist disasters in Iraq and Libya that terrorist groups like ISIS thrive in political power vacuums.


In light of this information it's obvious that destabilising and removing the Assad government would have ended up handing control of Syria to Islamist fanatics. This kind of catastrophic outcome was so obvious even in 2013 that Westminster MPs saw the stupidity of Cameron's rush to war and rightly voted it down.

Now the people who supported David Cameron's failed neo-con warmongering efforts back in 2013 are brazenly trying to rewrite history. They want people to believe that Cameron's rush to war wasn't a dangerous folly that was rightly stopped in its tracks, but actually the most noble of endeavours.

These opportunists are using the suffering in Aleppo as if it constitutes evidence that David Cameron was right to want to create a power vacuum in Syria for ISIS to occupy.

In making this argument these people are demonstrating a fundamental unwillingness to ask themselves how much worse the situation might have become if ISIS had taken advantage of the power vacuum to take control of the whole of Syria.


Maybe these people crying over the failure of David Cameron's rush to war really do imagine that the world would somehow be better if the Western powers had actively helped ISIS to take over Syria? Perhaps these people actually think that a bunch of barbaric Islamist fanatics bankrolled by Saudi Arabia and Qatar would somehow make better rulers of Syria than the (admittedly awful) Assad regime?

When faced with scenes of appalling suffering it's natural for people to think "what could have been done to avert this tragedy?" but trying to pin blame on the level-headed opponents of David Cameron's failed rush to war in 2013 is utterly ludicrous. Things would almost certainly have ended up even worse in Syria had David Cameron got his way.

If people are looking for somewhere to point the finger of blame, then a much more logical place to start is looking at the unyielding Western support for the autocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar that have fuelled and escalated the conflict in Syria.
Even the Tory Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has admitted that the Saudis are malign influence in the middle east, but still this unrelenting Tory support for Saudi Arabia remains so unbreakable that Theresa May humiliated Britain by prostrating herself in front of them right in the middle of the siege of Aleppo.

If we're going to wring our hands about what could have been done to avoid the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo, firstly we should be thankful that David Cameron was denied the opportunity to make the Syrian situation very much worse, and then ask the question of why the UK government has continued its unbreakable support for Saudi Arabia and Qatar despite their bankrolling of Jihadi terrorist groups in Syria.


If David Cameron,Theresa May or the Tories actually gave a damn about the suffering in Syria, they could have de-escalated the conflict by putting diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia and Qatar to stop their involvement. But they didn't do this because British arms companies are making fortunes selling weapons to these autocratic Islamist states and the Tories didn't want to upset the apple cart by pissing-off their head-chopping Islamist customers.

We all know that profit comes before people in the Tory ideology, and we should all be able to see the cynical right-wing crocodile tears over Aleppo for what they are.

If these opportunists really gave a damn about human suffering they would have done everything in their power to scale-down the Saudi and Qatari backing for the Jihadi militias that have been destabilising the country (and the entire region), thus ensuring the fall of Aleppo could never have become such a bloody disaster in the first place.

If we want to ask questions about Aleppo, perhaps some of the most important ones are these:

  • Why, in the middle of the siege of Aleppo, did Theresa May humiliate Britain by prostrating herself in front of the Islamist autocracies that have actually been funding the Jihadis in Syria? 
  • Why the undying Tory support for the brutal autocratic Islamist regimes that have caused such chaos and misery by flooding Syria with weapons and Jihadi fighters?
  • Are British arms contracts with countries like Saudi Arabia so important that the Tories and the establishment media are willing to turn a total blind-eye to their involvement in Syria?
  • Why are so many right-wingers so intent on rewriting history to exonerate David Cameron for the failure of his ill-conceived rush to war when the squalid relationship between the UK and Islamist regimes like Saudi Arabia is very much more relevant to what has been going on in Aleppo?
  • If the right-wing warmongers had got their way in 2013 and David Cameron had intervened to destabilise the Assad regime and help ISIS take over the country, would Syria now be a better place?


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