Sunday 25th September
Nobody is telling you, us, the general public – the truth. Our wonderful Media, including the BBC and Sky news, are stilling peddling the one evil man story. At differing times it has been the Kaiser, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and more recently; Saddam, Gadhafi and now Assad. What they fail to tell you is that there are two sides to this, just like every story. I am no apologist for Bashar Assad; like his father before him he is no Democrat, Syria is essentially a dictatorship – but even here Assad does not rule alone, he is backed by a party and does not make all his decisions, especially military ones, alone. From Damascus the view is very different; there is a huge rebel insurgency funded by the Saudis and the Americans and, here is something you do not hear very often – by us too. What is happening in Syria is a proxy war, or rather two proxy wars. The Americans and the Russians are backing different sides, both militarily and in their respective media. And Iran and the Saudis are fighting for supremacy within Islam; the old struggle – Sunni versus Shi-ite.
I am no apologist for Assad but they are, like it or not, the Government of Syria. And like Saddam in neighbouring Iraq the country was, though largely Muslim, secular; other religious minorities were respected and protected. The rebels; and these are made up of various different groups who largely hate each other as much as they hate Assad, are almost all radical Islamists, who if they ever took over Syria, would turn it into another Isis, or something very similar; religious dissent would not be allowed. Syria had hospitals, schools, universities, electricity and water; it wasn’t what we would recognise as democratic, but the majority of Syrians had a decent life (and remember, our biggest allies in the Arab world are Saudi Arabia, that bastion of democracy….).
Isis, oh had we forgotten Daesh? They have recruited most of their fighters from the other rebel groups, who we trained and financed. In reality they are simply the nastiest and most successful of the rebel groups. So what is happening on the ground? Assad, or rather the Government of Syria, is grinding out a slow and painful victory with the help of Russia. They will eventually win. But here is the rub; our involvement is slowing them down (we are funding a slow and miserable retreat) and prolonging the suffering of the poor citizens. If we really care about the civilians, if we want to stop the refugee crisis, if we really want peace in Syria; we should stop funding the rebels, persuade them to give up their losing battle and seek some sort of peace deal with the Government. That is the truth about Syria; we and the Americans and the Saudis and the Iranians have ruined a once peaceful and beautiful country. If we really want democracy in Syria we should allow Assad to take back control, include him in International relations and slowly persuade him to take a more democratic course; it may not work – but it is better than bombs and bullets.