Wednesday, 10 February 2016
BBC Radio: the Depopulation of Syria
"What Russia and Iran are doing at the moment, with the complicity of the West, is they are trying to destroy entirely the democratic nationalist opposition. They're not just hitting Islamists, they're hitting Free Syrian Army militias too. They're hitting civilian structures, they're bombing schools and hospitals and depopulating these areas. I think the aim is to destroy the democratic nationalist opposition, so the only two sides left are Assad and the insane jihadists. They then hope the world will come together in agreement, in open and direct agreement, that they should all co-operate in winning the country back for Assad. However, the demographic realities mean that even if it takes decades, it's not going to happen. As long as there are Syrians, there will be a great many people who want to fight against the régime, and what's perceived as a foreign invasion.
There is no serious conversation about peace, and by continuing in this theatre that there is, Kerry is complicit in what is going on. One reason the rebels, the opposition militias have collapsed recently, is because the Americans have told the Saudis and others to stop delivering weapons. Not one anti-aircraft weapon, which is what the civilians need to defend themselves from this scorched earth and depopulation, not one of them has come through. So the Americans, who present themselves as Friends of Syria, certainly aren't friends with the Syrian Revolution. They've just done a deal with the Iranians, at the same moment the Iranians are sending Shia jihadist militants to Syria and Iraq, which is making the Sunni Islamist backlash so much worse. When the Russians wanted to bring their own opposition team, so-called opposition team, to Vienna, the Americans said that's OK. When the genuine Syrian opposition team said they wanted United Nations resolutions, that the Americans and Russians had already agreed on, implemented; for example, a ceasefire, and end to the aerial bombardment in civilian areas, John Kerry told the opposition that this was a precondition they shouldn't be talking about at this stage. So whatever the rhetoric coming out of the Americans, their actions suggest they have handed this over to Russia and Iran. So in the name of disengagement, the Americans, back in 2013 when sarin gas was used, Obama's red line over chemical weapons disappeared, they in effect handed Syria over to Russia. It hasn't brought about stabilisation, it's brought about an absolute disaster. It has dragged the West back in. This year, the pressure of refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean, it will be more than last year, and I wish the Europeans would stop waiting for the Americans, for American leadership on this, because it clearly isn't coming.
The Americans and the Qataris and the Saudis and the Turks have sent weapons in, in an inconsistent and disorganised way, each one trying to back their own people. It's not only the fault of these powers, it's also the fault of the Syrian opposition, of the fractiousness of Syrian society which hasn't had the experience of democracy for four decades, but if in 2012 we'd seen a serious international effort to provide weapons through a central command, the Free Syrian Army, in much greater quantities than were given, and those had been allowed to defend themselves against President Assad, I think now we'd be looking at a very different situation."