Some anniversaries are sad events. Two years ago the conflict in Syria broke out. Since then one group of fractions have been fighting to take control of the government and the government has resisted these attempts. The conflict has bled to loss of life and to over one million people leaving the country, most of them settling as refugees in the Lebanon (which has plenty of problems of its own) in Jordan and in Turkey. Seventy thousand people have lost their lives.
The Western democracies appear to support those who are rebelling against the government. The government has supporters in Russia and Iran. Officially there is an arms embargo but the parties to the conflict seem to get enough arms to kill each other.
It is hard to know who the good guys are in this conflict. The Western democracies have decided that President Assad is the bad guy, but if that means that the rebels are the good guys then it is difficult to understand which rebels, because there is no single movement. The rebels seem to comprise of those who believe in democracy, those who believe in theocracy and many shades of opinion in between.
The western democracies in their support of the rebels should be careful what they wish for. The plan seems to be the same as it was in Iraq, and as it was in Afghanistan and as it was in Libya; get rid of the existing leaders and then cope, somehow, however badly, with what follows. It may be a good guy that follows, but that is unlikely. History tells us that these conflicts are usually dominated by opportunists who seek power for the sake of power and the wealth that power inevitably brings, rather than idealists.
I note that Helmand Province in Afghanistan now produces more poppy opium today than it did before the Western democracies intervened in Afghanistan, ten years ago.
The French and British believe that Russia and Iran are arming government forces. They feel that arming the opposition to the Syrian government is “the only way to put pressure on President Assad. That is a perverse belief. Arming the opponents of the President does not put pressure on him, but adds to the bloody conflict. Do the French and British believe that if they arm President Assad’s opponents that Syrian Russia and Iran will stop arming President Assad?
Syria is a bit like the former Yugoslavia. There are many ethnicities and many religious groups. For many years they have lived in relative security as a result of being ruled by a dictatorship. When the dictator dies a unified nation falls apart, usually with much loss of life.
So let us assume that the French and British have their way and arm the opponents of President Assad. It will increase the conflict and increase the loss of life. Those who arm the government of Syria will not stop arming it. The next call will be for bombings of the Syrian government forces and then for troops to be sent and we will end up with another ten year conflict, for even if President Assad is overthrown, the conflict will continue as each faction fights other factions for control of the nation, or part of it.
Filed under: climate change Tagged: | afghanistan, arms embargo, iraq, Libya, loss of life in syrian syrian refugees, Middle East, president assad, rebels in Syria, syria, western democracies, Yugoslavia