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#Syria - #Notinmyname

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 11 April 2018

As I write civilian airlines have been told to get out of Syrian airspace for the next 72 hours. The very real fear is that the USA and possibly Britain and France will launch air strikes against President Assad's regime. The justification -the alleged chemical attack on Douma. If the West blunders in, it does not do so in my name.

There is the little matter of proof of guilt - we have none. Both Assad and also the Islamofascist Al-Qaeda fighters currently holding Douma have used chemical weapons in this war. The latter have attacked civilians before claiming it was Assad so goading President Trump into an attack. Assad denies his guilt and has called in international investigators to establish what happened. They would arrive within days but the West seems unwilling to wait.

Why would Assad launch such an attack? He is winning the war. If the West declines to meddle then it is only a matter of days before Douma falls and months before almost all of Syria is in the hands of either Assad or the Kurds with both Isis and the Al Qaeda groups driven out. Why would Assad risk Western intervention which will only prolong the war with a chemical attack which achieved no military gains at all? It makes no sense.

So Assad has no motive and we in the West have no proof of guilt. Indeed there is no independent evidence at all. That surely is grounds enough for, at least, waiting until the inspectors arrive.

Then there is the bigger picture. Assad is not a terribly nice man but he allows religious diversity, full rights for women, does not execute homosexuals and on all three counts that puts him ahead of the Islamofascists on the other side. The extremist groups fighting Assad may not be ISIS but there has been movement of both men and arms between them and ISIS. And they share an intolerance and willingness to commit the most awful crimes.

Is there really an argument for supporting regime change? Prior to the war Assad was by far and away not the most loathsome ruler in the region. Have we learned nothing from the chaos we created by toppling rulers in Iraq and Libya? It appears that we have not.

Russia, quite rightly, pointed out at the UN that the West's meddling in the Middle East during the past 20 years has been uniformly disastrous. I am not advocating that we switch sides and support Assad although, for what it is worth, I would agree with Russia that he is by far and away the least worst option on offer. Assad did not blow up the Twin Towers, the lot we are backing are linked to that awful crime.

If we intervene in Syria it will only prolong the war and cause more suffering. And to what end?

Relations with Russia are already worse than they have been for years. Do we in the West really want to consider what happens if Russian servicemen are killed by a Western airstrike. It does not bear considering. And if we are not serious about changing the course of the war - which would inevitably see Russians killed - what would the killing of a few, or dozens or hundreds of Syrian military personnel and civilians really achieve? Nothing. I heard a Tory MP saying that it might "make us feel good" in that we would be doing something. I do not regard killing people as something that would make me "feel good" but perhaps we operate in different worlds.

Britain is not threatened by events in Syria and so there can be no justification for our leaders taking action without Parliamentary approval if indeed at all. But without any proof and denying independent investigators the time to find proof, taking action which can only assist some terrible Al Qaeda linked people, cannot be justified at all. Any action is not in my name.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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