The UK Parliament are to vote today as to whether the UK should extend its bombing to Syria attacking Isil at its HQ.
The British premier has so far been serious and considered about his appeal that we should join our allies and go after Isil in Syria as well as in Iraq. However he went wildly over the top and became naively offensive when he called those who choose to vote against this measure as supporters of terrorism. Quite absurd and in extremely bad taste. Such intemperate remarks lead one to think that perhaps his desire to help our allies directly may also smack of intemperance.
There is no question that the matters of resolution in the Syrian saga can only be sorted out within a comprehensive diplomatic, humanitarian and military unified plan and strategy.
There are two separate issues here; 1 Assad and 2 Isil. Trying to solve or muddle through both issues is in my opinion plain silly.
Firstly work needs to be done unifying those who want peace in Syria and then negotiating a change of governance in the country. Hopefully the conference in Vienna is attending to this. No one will claim that this matter will be easy to solve. What is clear is that both Russia and Iran need to be listened to as well as enjoined in the strategy forward. The menace of Saudi and other extreme Islamic autocracies remains strong and Russia may well be one power that can smooth a way to some sort of unity.
The agreement toward a change in Syrian governance will take time but it is and must be separate from the Isil issue.
How can these two seemingly convoluted crisis be separated?
Firstly it needs a cease fire to be negotiated between Assad’s forces and his enemies and this will only happen if Assad accedes to sitting down and agreeing to consider a representative Government via a democratic vote for a new enfranchised government of unity. The sins of the past need to be accepted and put to one side, it would be too much to ask for reconciliation at this time.
All forces which are now pitted against each other, pro and anti Assad, have to be unified for the fight against the scourge that is Isil knowing that they are fighting for the survival of Syria and the rebuilding of its nationhood.
However there are so many schisms and heavily entrenched religious as well as political agendas amongst the numerous participants it seems a tall order. It will need a phenomenal act of leadership to pull it off. President Putin seems the only man in the right place and of the right influence to be able to take on this mantle. His record as a statesman leaves much to be desired but maybe, just maybe this will be his moment and he can lead this dreadful arena towards a peace and then an alliance to end this awful strife at last.
As for bombing Isil now, it will make little or no difference. Bombing Raqqa is doing damage, yes but killing civilians too. We know from Afghanistan that despite the so called accuracy of British bombing many civilians were killed, we know also that this collateral damage leads to the recruitment of young jihadis all over the world. So Mr Cameron don’t do it.
That intemperate remark about supporters of terrorism was wrong so are you now. Just don’t join the club because you feel you want a seat at the top table. Talk to Putin maybe he has some worthy ideas.