Saturday, 23 November 2013

Dateline London

"Unless they get a deal on the nuclear issue, it will be impossible to get a negotiated settlement over Syria."
Owen Jones was on Dateline London. I think he's completely wrong. Each outside intervention to bring "peace" so far, whether the UN envoy or the Arab League mission, has done nothing but buy Assad more time. Any Geneva conference will be predicated in a Russian insistence that Assad will stay.
"The vote in Britain about whether they would be military intervention in Syria."
An elision of Western invasion with token airstrikes. To oppose the second, the anti-war movement has suggested that the first would be the result, either because it was an inexorable consequence, or it was the secret American plan all along. The lack of enthusiasm of the administrations on both sides of the Atlantic, that they passed the buck on the decision and threw up their hands when it didn't go through, should inform people that the West really isn't interested in doing anything in Syria, let alone try and overthrow Assad.
"The reason they [the Iranians] see their fate so tied to that of the Syrian rĂ©gime is because of their isolation, they've spent £3bn, which is deeply resented at home."
That seems about right.
"And stop a wider regional war."
It is Assad who has tried to spread this war, by attacking Turkey, by dragging in fighters from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, by blaming the US and Israel for the revolution. It is the rebels who want to keep this local, to insist it is about Syrians determining their own destiny. The longer Assad is allowed to keep hanging on with Syria's fate determined between the US and the Russians, the more he will provoke a wider conflict. Having cried wolf about the Western intervention now, it will be harder to resist when people say down the line, after the next chemical weapons attack, or missile salvo on Turkey or Lebanon, that there is no alternative to Iraq Mark II.
"The Saudi sponsors of Islamist rebels"
People who have got tired of living under a dictatorship try to overthrow it. The West refuses to arm them, so they grow beards and try to find Saudis who'll give them some guns. Now Owen Jones wants them to believe that they can lay down those guns because the international community can be trusted to stop their government killing them with its cracking negotiating skills. How farfetched is that?
"Libya is obviously descending now into total abject chaos."
I think Robin Yassin-Kassab would find this a pernicious exaggeration.

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