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General Lord Dannatt: UK should work with Assad in Syria

Written By: - Date published: 9:32 am, February 21st, 2016 - 88 comments
Categories: colonialism, defence, Globalisation, International, Syria, war - Tags: ,

Revealing comments here from some establishment players. General Lord Dannatt, former UK Army Chief of Staff 2006-2009 and Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria.

Presented here with no additional comment:

Lord Dannatt said the Russian’s had aptly demonstrated how to counter the extremist threat in Syria by backing the side most likely to win, despite reservations about the reported barrel-bombing of civilian areas by government forces.

Dannatt-Duke of Edinborough

He told the BBC: “The Russians are coordinating with the Assad regime and are being very successful. From the air and on the ground, they are working in a coordinating fashion.

“Our problem is that we are working with the losers. Let’s work with that regime.

“There may be an element of my enemy’s enemy is my friend, and choosing the least worst of several very unattractive options.”

Peter Ford, a former British ambassador to Syria, also blasted the UK for backing extremists disguised as moderate rebel fighters.

He argued defence chiefs were intent on removing President Bashar al-Assad despite wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya proving the difficulties in simply toppling a dictator without a comprehensive plan for what could replace them.



88 comments on “General Lord Dannatt: UK should work with Assad in Syria ”

  1. Bill 1

    heh – just happend to be reading a bit of Fisk and was pleased to read him echoing the line of others that there is no such thing as a moderate jihadist – (UK PM, Cameron’s “moderate” 70 000 strong ‘Free Syrian Army’)

    Last week when a post went up on the escalation in Syria, I was thinking more in terms of ‘end game’. Russia isn’t fucking around with any idea of moderate and radical – that cuts the Gordian Knot. The border with Turkey is closing down, thanks as much to the US working with forces born of the PKK (still a designated terrorist org ffs), leaving jihadis surrounded by hostile forces on all sides.

    It’s what happens to the current convenient allies of the US in Rojava that interests/concerns me. I expect they’ll be deliberately hung out to dry, just like every other single experiment with democracy has previously been strung up and left to twist in winds of forgetfulness.

    The Fisk piece. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syrian-civil-war-isis-refugees-aleppo-to-damascus-a6886446.html

    A good Cockburn piece is here. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-conflict-isis-turkey-barack-obama-ankara-bombing-a6886466.html

    And info (+ many links) on the political philosophy underpinning efforts to establish democratic governance in Rojava is here http://www.social-ecology.org/

  2. mickysavage 2

    In my humble opinion the only thing that Assad deserves is a trial and a cell. If I was not such a hand wringing liberal I would think that he deserves a bullet.

    I appreciate the geo political implications but there is no way that he can be worked with. And if the counter argument is that it will only make things worse well half a million civilian deaths, rampant destruction of towns and cities and millions of refugees is a rather strong counter to this argument.

    • Bill 2.1

      Assad is a bastard. No argument there. Putin and Obama are bastards too.  And then there’s that bastard Erdogan.

      So if Assad deserves a trial and a cell (or even a bullet as you insinuate), then so does Putin and Obama and Erdogan among a pretty long list of others.

      But wouldn’t it be for the people of the US to decide on Obama, the Russians on Putin and the Turks on Erdogan? That being the case (if that’s the case), then why not the same for Assad?

      He did institute reforms early on in the piece and he does have (whether we like it or not or understand it or not) pretty solid support from the Syrian population. I think it’s fair to argue that in the absence of external shit stirrers, any protests in Syria would have been contained by the state making compromises of a nature and extent that the protests went away. That’s the tried and tested way all states deal with a population getting ‘uppity’.

      But throw in foreign money, foreign fighters and arms and, yeah…all bets off – half a million civilian deaths, millions of refugees, rampant destruction….

      • Pascals bookie 2.1.1

        Jesus wept. the country didn’t explode because of a few foreign agitators.

        When the protests broke out, he opened fire on them, released thousands of jihadists from jail, rounded up imprisoned, tortured, and executed moderate dissidents. His game plan from the start has been to eliminate all non-extremist opposition first. That this has largely succeeded isn’t a point in his fucking favour.

        Look up any resource you like about who has killed the most civilians in Syria. It’s not even close.

        To put his crimes in the same basket as Obama’s or even Putin’s ignores a whole lot of what happened.

        • Bill

          No pb, the country didn’t explode due to a “few foreign agitators”. That’s true.

          Protests were met with levels of violence (water cannon etc) and also, a few week in, live ammunition. A handful of protesters were killed and then later, a handful of police were killed. Assad then released protesters who had been arrested and that people were demanding be freed. And so on at that level of unrest; of action and reaction.

          And on those sparks, the Saudi’s and others conspired to throw buckets of fucking petrol…

          Here’s some background analysis from 2011… http://www.conflictsforum.org/2011/the-great-game-in-syria/

            • Colonial Viper

              Further, how many people have Saudi Arabia decapitated so far this year? How many civilians have they slaughtered in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East?

              Yet the refrain in the West is Assad must go Assad must go.

              Has the west really not learnt in the ME that it keeps fucking up and killing secular leaders only to have extremist sectarianism take over.

              • Bill

                Jesus wept (to coin a phrase pb).

                That Al Jazeera piece claims that Assad created ISIS! Please explain the logic in releasing thousands of guys who will form ISIS while simultaneously rounding up and murdering other thousands (the “Ceasar” photos).

                btw I found some actual reproductions. Tortured bodies. But how that leads to definitive conclusions on who did the torturing and what not, is beyond me. That they were apparently taken by a guy who is now safe in ‘the west’ but who is to be known only as ‘Ceasar’….nah. (I get shades of “They’re throwing babies from incubators outta the windows!” – remember that one?)

                Much more basically, care to explain why Assad would take a situation he can control, and where he enjoys widespread popular support, and blow the entire fucking thing out of the water?

                • Pascals bookie

                  “That Al Jazeera piece claims that Assad created ISIS! Please explain the logic in releasing thousands of guys who will form ISIS while simultaneously rounding up and murdering other thousands (the “Ceasar” photos).”

                  It’s in the pieces. You want to radicalise the opposition. From the get go Assad’s line has been that all his opponents are ‘terrorists’. Just as all the US’s opponents are ‘terrorists’ etc. It’s a standard by the book play.

                  ‘Caesar’ is interviewed in that guardian piece. discount that if you want, but it looks like willfull blindeness to do so.

                  You haven’t given any reason to disbleieve him other than ‘he was protected by people who oppose Assad, and so by definition are extremists’ You see the logic flaw there right?
                  It’s straight up Bush’s ‘you are with me or you are with the terrorsists’.

                  I can’t see how any evidence would exist that could sway you. That’s a pretty shit position.

                  • Pascals bookie

                    Can you find any credible sources disputing waht ‘Caesar’ alleges and explaining the dossier?

                    • Bill

                      If I say that my flatmate is a sheep fucker and then claim it must be true unless you find any credible sources disputing the claim…

                      Of course, a sensible course of inquiry would be to put the onus of proof back on the person making the claim.

                      Or to critically evaluate the claim on the basis of available evidence and likely agendas of anyone promoting said claims.

                    • Pascals bookie

                      Ok, so

                      Your flatmate has long had a reputation for fucking sheep. To the point that for a long time you used to criticise the CIA fpr giving him sheep they wanted fucked. A livestock agent thne comes out and says, ‘I used to do a lot of work for him, and all of asudden he wanted lots of sheep fucked, I photographed the fucked sheep as part of my job, Not just the usual bad sheep he wanted fucked, loads of sheep, it was doing my head in so many sheep this guy wanted to fuck, he was lying about the amount of sheep he was fucking, and the type of sheep he was fucking and I couldn;t take it anymore. So I took the evidence and went on the run from him. Here’s the evidence I was able to gather.

                      YOu can dismiss all that because you don’t like who the stock agent took protectuion from, or you can admit that yeah, your flatmate is a sheepfucker just like everyone accepted he was until all of a sudden you think he’s better than some other flatmate.

                    • reason

                      Can you find any sources that are not the same as those who did the spreading of lies and misinformation that lead us into the first Iraqi war/invasion ??????

                      Go watch some Pilger and wise up Pascal …..

                      Isis in its present form arose from the ” mission accomplished” that the same media your quoting from told us was performed and completed in “the war on terror”.

                      However never wanting to waste a good Islamic extremist Isis became the hand the west played against Assad and that hand is now folding…..

                      The people of Syria prefer Assad over Isis ……………

                      I wonder what the next hand played will be…….

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Western imperial arrogance:

                      We like ABC dictator so we will ignore his bad deeds and support him against his people.

                      We don’t like XYZ dictator so we will use his bad deeds to justify why he’s got to go, and in his place we’ll put in a dictator that we do like.

                      The West has run this same game over and over and over again.

                      And some people are naive enough to keep the cycle going.

                    • Pascals bookie

                      Thing is CV, I didn’t like Assad when the CIA was using him for dirty work and I still don’t.

                      You keep trying to say I supprt western policy in the ME. I don’t, and I’ve told you that ofetn.

                      You however, now support Assad and spend stime minimising his crimes and firing off stupid one liners? What changed?

                  • Bill

                    Assad has fully accepted the need for reform and acknowledged that protesters/opponents were not terrorists. That’s not the case for armed opposition. It’s pretty well established they are Al Qaeda off-shoots etc funded by rich bastards in the Gulf and who get supplies through Turkey and via Iraq. It’s pretty clear also that the US fucked around with notions of “moderate” jihadis just because they were/are so hell-bent on ousting Assad.

                    As for “Caesar” – there is absolutely no way his account can be verified given that no locations and no names are supplied (hence the truck-load of salt). Also, bar a single foreign language facebook page, I can’t find any info on the org that spat him up into public view… For all I or anyone knows, those bodies were brought from the street to a warehouse for ID purposes. In fact, that would be a far more likely scenario than a security service not knowing who they are torturing and then having to ID them (as “Caesar” claims)

                    And to repeat (cause it appears you’re not getting this) I look on them all as bastards. I’m not favouring one bastard over another and would be quite happy for them all to ‘fall on their ribs’…Putin, Obama, Assad and any other fucker who’s looking to extend power and influence at the expense of ordinary people in the region.

                    We live in a world where our information is hung on frameworks. Understanding those frameworks and treating any info coming from them appropriately is kind of crucial to getting a reasonable handle on things, no?

                    • Pascals bookie

                      you’re going a long way to defend Assad and spout his exact rhetoric for someone who hasn’t ‘picked a side’.

                      And that’s not quite what caesar claims. The photographing isn;t so thet Intel services can ‘find out who it is they killed’ but rather:

                      “the system of organizing and recording the dead served three ends: to satisfy Syrian authorities that executions were carried out; to ensure that no one was improperly discharged; and to allow military judges to represent to families—by producing official-seeming death certificates—that their loved ones had died of natural causes. In many ways, these facilities were ideal for hiding “unwanted” individuals, alive or dead. As part of the Ministry of Defense, the hospitals were already fortified, which made it easy to shield their inner workings and keep away families who might come looking for missing relatives. “These hospitals provide cover for the crimes of the regime,” said Nawaf Fares, a top Syrian diplomat and tribal leader who defected in 2012. “People are brought into the hospitals, and killed, and their deaths are papered over with documentation.” When I asked him, during a recent interview in Dubai, Why involve the hospitals at all?, he leaned forward and said, “Because mass graves have a bad reputation.””


                      This idea that Assad was catually actually a sweet as reformer, is just horsehit. He was baathist will all the traits of what modern batthism had evolved into.

                    • Bill

                      Never claimed that Assad was ‘sweet as’ about reform. I pointed out that after initial protests and building pressure he accepted that reforms would take place and took steps in that direction. (It’s about preserving power)

                      Yes, you are right that I misconstrued the reason given for the photoed bodies – my bad. I did read the supposedly confidential UN report though. Funnily enough, there isn’t a shred of evidence produced by that report that would slate all those bodies home to Assad’s regime – not a thing beyond the circumstantial ‘evidence’ of “Caesar”.

                      What I found particularly revealing is that there is absolutely no follow up to the following assertion made early in the report.

                      “There were many other reasons which drove the enquiry team to its conclusion that his evidence was reliable and could safely be acted upon in any subsequent judicial proceedings”

                      The “other reasons” (that are never given) is on top of him having not exaggerated his claims by saying (for example) that he had witnessed executions or torture.

                      Any collaborating evidence from other sources? I mean, 50 odd bodies a day and no-one else comes forward with supporting evidence? Thousands of photos representing about 11 000 people and not one person identified and not one back story? See, I just start to suspect that someone is afraid the narrative will unravel if one of the “hidden” identities can be shown to have died in circumstances totally unconnected with the regime.

                      So, to be clear. I’m not saying that the 11 000 weren’t killed in the way and for the reasons claimed. Just that the story is paper thin and, all other things being equal, I can think of no compelling reason as to why everyone is so anxious to keep identities secret (ids of victims as well as photographers)…or why there is no collaborating evidence when the claims cover such a large number of people.

                      Also, motive. “Caesars” relative – the mate referred to who helped him smuggle stuff – was an initial member of that “Syrian National Movement” that I can’t find any info on.

                    • Pascals bookie

                      “Any collaborating evidence from other sources? ” The vanity fair piece is long, but conatins I/V’s with other people, (doctors etc) who were in the stem at the time and are now in exile who corroborate the story.

                      Assad’s intel agencies in the hospitals torturing people to death and getting the hospitals to write up death certs.

                      And what I don;t get about your acceptance of Assad’s allleged comittment to reform is that while he was saying this, he was shooting people in the street.

                      Why does your scepticism not extend to his statements? large proportions of his people didn’t accept them

                    • Bill

                      My skepticism pertains to pieces of reporting surrounding particular allegations. I’m calling bullshit on that reporting around the allegations and the reports that the accusations have spawned. To reiterate. I consider Assad a bastard and have no time for any of the various actors looking to extend influence and power. I am essentially impartial in my disdain for all of them.

                      By the way. Did you notice that Vanity Fair was using quotes from the compilers of the UN report, but by not mentioning that they were the reports compilers, they were subtly implying that those peoples words somehow independently bolstered what “Caesar” had said, when in actual fact they could only be repeating what “Caesar” himself had told them?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      PB you get rid of Assad and his government now and all you will get is ISIS, Al Nusra and other Islamic extremists take over the capital.

                      Libya mark 2, chaos, just like the way the Imperial West wants it.

                    • Pascals bookie

                      Bill, the Syrian doctor now in exile who detailed what he saw in the hospital?

                    • Bill

                      @ pb. The Vanity Fair opinions I’m referring to are those from the likes of David Crane.

                      You might want to notice that he and others were enlisted by the mysterious “Syrian National Movement” who in turn were acting through the “Free Syrian Army” and an off-shoot by the name of the “Strangers Battalion”.

                      Given the fact all those parties would be running obvious agendas, it behooves anyone taking evidence from those sources to be very thorough in their critical evaluation. And yet a wee sit down and a chat with mere allusions to unspecified reasons as to why his story is accurate and his evidence solid seems to have served in this case.

                      And what amounts to more or less the same long article in story form is reproduced by fairly prominent liberal news outlets. No-one seems to have asked much in the way of searching questions or to have investigated further in order to either verify or dismiss his claims.

                      I can’t understand why none f that seems at all strange to you pb.

                    • Pascals bookie

                      It doesn;t seem strange Bill, because it’s war reporting from a sectaraian war. Yes, absolutely take things into account, but that doesnt mean ‘discount everything to zero’.

                      Demanding the sort of forensic detail you seem to be wanting would mean not accepting anything at all from a war zone. You have to make a judgement, and I think this seems ‘more likely than not’.

                      That’s based not only on the story as presented but how it fits in with baathist regimes going back as long as you like, and the other things Assad has been doing.

                      The syrian ‘secret police’ are not a myth, they operated in plain sight for a long time. Black leather jacketed guys standing on street corners and all the rest of it.

                      It is not hard to find plenty of video of how Assad’s forces have behaved, the beatings of protesters with rifle butts and truncheons as they lay handcuffed and bleeding on the ground, the stabbings, kickings, trampling etc.

                      It is not hard to find pictures of what he has done to the cities.

                      It is not hard to find pictures of the pro-Assad graffitti that reads ‘Assad or Syria burns’.

                      So it is not like this allegation is particularly unbelievable, but if you would rather wait for everything to die down and for ‘proper’ investigations (if such things are allowed) before making up your mind as to whether or not you believe it, then cool.

                      I think it’s worth noting that the people interviewed will have family in Syria in government controlled areas. Talking is not risk free, you have to weigh *all* these things up, it’s not traffic incident reporting is it?

                    • Bill

                      Essentially I don’t think the story stacks up. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe Assad’s regime tortured and disappeared people.

                      I admit my response to it has taken a scattergun approach. I’m sure I’ve missed stuff including some very obvious points along the way. But hey, it’s a blog and I’ve been reading/scanning as this to and fro has unfolded.

                      Bottom line.

                      There are photos of dead people that show signs of torture.

                      There is absolutely no credible evidence being provided that’s it’s down to Assad’s regime. Why are no identities of the dead being released? Why are there no date/time stamps etc on those forensic photos? Why is “Caesar” maintaining anonymity? Why did a private report into those photos – commissioned by the org that “Caesars” relative is an integral part of – try to pass itself off as a UN report (that one got me fooled for a while)…and so on.

                      The chances it’s a have? The source who wanked on about WMD. The “babies in incubators being flung from windows”. The chemical attacks that couldn’t possibly have come from anywhere else but Assad…except the same people who claimed that are now claiming that ISIS has access to chemical weapons and that we all ought to be feart.

                      Some verifiable evidence is needed. This story has nothing bar words…the same platform that the theatre of WMD, “Kuwaiti babies” and chemical attacks performed on. And so unless and until something a bit more concrete comes along, I can only be reasonable and call bullshit on it..

            • Bill

              You do get that two stories are told about Syria, yes? I’m going to repeat my assertion – they are all bastards. I don’t and won’t take sides. Which type of report you give more credance to, well, that’s a personal thing I guess. For me, I’ll rely on analysis and opinion that has a track record for accuracy and honesty, that’s independent and that makes sense.

              So…Human Rights Watch are notorious for giving damning reports of the west’s official enemies while sugar coating reports of official friends. That’s the light any claims they make should (in my opinion) be read. That de spiegel and others pick up their claims and propel them into the public arena as undisputed fact, comes as no surprise. That well respected commentators hold forth (sometimes) diametrically opposing views that aren’t picked up by liberal mainstream media outlets is also no surprise.

              Remembering that there is no such thing as a moderate jihadist, the piece from the Guardian just beggers fucking belief. (my emphasis) “The group that was protecting Caesar – members of the Syrian National Movement, a moderate Islamist opposition party – understood that my account of our meetings would not be a media scoop, but a descent into the unspeakable.”

              I remember the piece when it came out. I looked at the photos…except I couldn’t because none were reproduced – just the shocked faces of various people looking at something or other (could be looking at anything from any where).

              Al jazeera does do some good reporting on some stuff. but some of its coverage of the ME is hugely problematic given that they are financed by Qatar – which has a grubby fist of fingers in the Syrian pie. Fully referenced quote from wiki “Al Jazeera has been called a propaganda outlet for the Qatari government and its foreign policy, by analysts and by news reporters, including former Al Jazeera reporters”

              In contrast…


            • instauration

              Um – June 2011
              Beginnings – 120 Syrian Police massacred @ Jisr al-Shughour – so close to Turkey
              Pretty much subsequent Assad was a bit more assertive – I suspect any responsible “Homeland” entity would be too.

            • instauration

              Political Opposition – hear my roar !!!
              Terrorist – embrace foreign patronage – have guns and kill Police
              Moderate rebel – does not exist.

        • Colonial Viper

          Sorry PB but history will show you wrong, once again.

          Erdogan wants Muslim Ottoman rule back, Saudi Arabia wants Assads secular regime gone and replaced with Islamists, and the US has been funneling heavy arms from Gaddafi’s armouries to extremist foreign groups in an effort to finish Assad.

          And only Russia has been in Syria operating legally with the permission of the legitimate sovereign government.

          Everyone else in there are the usual side show of western colonial powers playing the new Great Game and their local dictatorial helpers.

          • Pascals bookie

            “Sorry PB but history will show you wrong, once again.”

            any luck finding any helicopters ever in history shot down by TOWs?

            • Colonial Viper

              Hey PB what’s your point? That a TOW cannot down a helicopter? I say it can.

              • Pascals bookie

                Found an example then?

                I’m saying it can’t coz the weapon isn’t designed to do it, would be rael hard to aim that highg, and near imp[ossible to keep the helicopter in sight through the sight while the missile is in flight.

                But if you can point to one shooting down a helicopter, then great.

                And no, the russian chopper they got after the Turkey shoot down doesn’t count. You can watch that happen online and the helicopter is sitting on the ground.

                • Stuart Munro

                  Respectfully, the TOW has better range and long range accuracy than an RPG, but there are accounts of RPG fire downing helicopters.

                  02:38 – 02:39 August 6 local time, 22:09 August 5 UTC/GMT/Zulu time[13][15][17] the helicopter was fired upon and shot down by a previously undetected group of Taliban fighters. The group fired 2-3 RPG rounds from a two-story building from a location some 220 meters south of the helicopter. The second round struck one of the three aft rotor blades of the helicopter destroying the aft rotor assembly.[15][20] The helicopter crashed less than 5 seconds later, killing all 38 people on board. (Wikipedia)

                  It’s true that they can’t take them out at height or at speed, but it is during slow near ground manouvers that they make the best targets, whereas conventional aircraft make such manouvers mostly in secure rear areas.

                  It is quite likely that no helicopter has been downed by TOWs however, not because they couldn’t do it, but because the forces opposing TOW equipped armies rarely have large numbers of helicopters, and TOW equipped armies often also possess better anti-helicopter options along the lines of Stinger missiles or conventional aircraft.

                  • Pascals bookie

                    Syria has many helicopters. which are being used to bomb cities. CV has claimed this unlikely because they would be sot down by TOWs.

                    He has offered no evidence of this at all.

                    A TOW is a very different weapon system from a shoulder fired rpg. I’m certainly not disputing that rpgs have taken down helicopters in the way you suggest, but that’s not comparable to what CV is claiming. The helicopters dropping unguided bombs on syrian cities do so from a great height

                    • Stuart Munro

                      My understanding is that the TOW is basically vehicle mounted – thus probably not abundant among irregular forces opposing Assad. At more than a million dollars a shot it might be reserved to its anti-tank role – except in ‘fire what you’ have situations.

                      These videos show the helicopters you describe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeSP4rcz0W0


                    • Pascals bookie

                      The US has been supplying TOWs (freetsanding rather than truck mounted, they are basically on a massive heavy tripod type setup) to some of the rebel groups.
                      Part of the deal, funnily enough is that they have to record every shot with two cameras, one trained on the operator firing the shot, and the other on the target.

                      there are many such videos on youtube (just search TOW Syria), they aren’t cheap, but the target selection would seem to indicate they aren’t short of supplies. You can see them used against everything from tanks and APCs (most of the videos) to lookout posts and technicals and flatbed trucks. No helicopters though, which is why the rebels have been saying for years that what they really want is things that can take out helicopters.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      I imagine that since Oliver North America is strangely loath to send portable ground to air capacity – a lesson Russia should’ve learned prior to MH370.

                      The tendency to repurpose guided antitank for general use is not confined to TOW – the Poms were complaining about expenditure of MILAN on machine nests a while back – sensible on the ground if not to book-keepers.

                      CV’s determined romanticisation of Putin continues to mystify me however – perhaps he imagines Nemtsov killed himself?

          • Pascals bookie

            “And only Russia has been in Syria operating legally with the permission of the legitimate sovereign government.”

            Classic line there, did you borrow it from Obama justfying the drone program in Yemen?

            • Colonial Viper

              It’s the truth. Every day the West thinks nothing of trampling over the international law and operating illegally in Syria.

              Liberal Lefties may be fine with this, but it is clear that only Russia is operating in Syria with the permission of the long standing, legitimate, existing Government in Damascus.

              • Pascals bookie

                And that was your position about the drone program in Yemen too eh? just to be clear. It happened at the invitation of the recognised govt so all good, that’s what you said eh?

                • Colonial Viper

                  You’re a smart guy so I assume that you are dancing around the point:

                  the US, UK and NATO member Turkey are operating in Syria illegally.

                  Only the Russians are operating in Syria within international law.

                  And that was your position about the drone program in Yemen too eh? just to be clear.

                  US forces were based in Yemen legally, at the invitation of the then government.

                  Drone strikes against civilians, wedding parties etc are war crimes.

                  But yes, the US was in Yemen legally at the behest of the then government.

                  In contrast, the UK, US have been operating in Syria *illegally*.

                  • Pascals bookie

                    The actions against ISIS are authorised by UN resolutions.

                    But I’n glad you acknowledge that war crimes are warcrimes even if you are in the country at the behest of the govt. baby steps.

        • One Two

          “Jesus wept. the country didn’t explode because of a few foreign agitators”

          Yes it did. The agitators were not few in number, and it begun almost 10 years ago directly against syria


      • Stuart Munro 2.1.2

        There’d be more than a few bereaved families in Chechnya & Ingushetia ready to make the case that Putin is a bastard. Georgians and Ukrainians too.

        • Colonial Viper

          Georgia started the fight by killing a number of Russian peacekeepers. Russia made a point of rolling over the Georgian defences and then immediately withdrew.

          Chechnya was an example of militant Islamism being used to destabilise Russia’s hinterlands. The war was brutal.

          Russia will not allow that to happen again.

          As for Ukraine. The West thought it could use a coup in the Ukraine to bring NATO to Russia’s doorstep, and to take over Sevastapol as a NATO base.

          Surprise surprise, Putin disagreed.

          • Stuart Munro

            No, Chechnya was a vehicle to consolidate Putin’s legitimacy as a successor to Yeltsin.

            You’re interested in war crimes – Chechnya underwent a зачистка.

            • Colonial Viper

              that’s only one very narrow interpretation. And it ignores the issue of militant separatist Islamism which remains a problem for Russia in that region to this day and which western influences have been feeding.

              • Stuart Munro

                By no means – a friend of mine reported the Chechen war at no small personal risk. It was about oil, not Islamism anyway.

        • instauration

          And plenty more Abkhazians and Alanians to assert Russia as an effective protector of indigenous sovereignty.

    • Colonial Viper 2.2

      Assad and his government goneburger, which means ISIS in charge of Damascus, annhilating all minority Christians, Druze, Sufis, etc.

      And instead of Assad with his women Cabinet Ministers and women university professors, you get male dominated Islamist rule under extreme Sharia law.

    • One Two 2.3

      The same western nations who have worked with Syria for decades , including with his father, suggest that your perspective is incorrect

      Your reasoning and logic is truly awful

      • greywarshark 2.3.1

        One Two
        If the western nations had been doing such a good job that you gloat over it, how come everything is so dire and people are fleeing on foot, by any way possible. I think you are an apologist, and such cannot argue accurately.

        • One Two

          An apologist for what, exactly ?

          The common ‘foreign’ denominators in the ME are the western imperialist nations, as per Sykes Picot

          Those same imperialist nations have supported ‘regimes and ‘royals’ for the better part of a century. I expect you understand the reasons why

          When it has suited those same imperialist nations, they have violently overthrown those very same regimes leaving destruction, terrorism and ‘civil war’ as the outcomes

          The same tactics can be see throughout our planet, notably Central and Latin America, and South America, on-going

        • instauration

          I know people that “flee’ed on foot” to Syria from Iraq in 1995 – from the Bush assault and just weird Sanctions – Syria provided all – welcomed by an embracing Syrian “regime”.

          • greywarshark

            I think that just quoting what has happened – western nations interfering and worsening fraught relationships between countries – is inadequate comment.
            What can be done in the present, given the various factions’ particular interests? Being aware of the past results of the various players and plotting a way through to an imperfect but achievable position, noting what each one is likely to do in reaction to changes, is mind-boggling.
            But that’s where it’s at.

  3. Richard Christie 3

    Always side with the winners.

    Yeah, that grabs the moral high ground.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      OK, you can choose to side with the losing Jihadists and Islamists, Al Nusra, ISIS, etc. if you like.

      • Richard Christie 3.1.1

        Whatever I’d choose, I’d do so for a better reason than than the shallow expediency of backing the presumed ‘winner’.

        • Colonial Viper

          Let’s not talk in easy hypotheticals, Richard Christie.

          In this specific situation, if you don’t want Assad then the alternative choice is to side with Al Nusra, ISIS, and the other Islamic militants.

          And almost all of these groups want the secular government in Damascus gone and extreme Sharia law enforced throughout Syria.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      In Syria, there’s no moral high ground left. The only option is to try to build a viable stability and try for the morality after that. And to do that will require a secular government which pretty much excludes all of the jihadist rebels.

  4. Ad 4

    This sounds like good rehearsal for the fall of the House of Saud.

    I try not to sound like a leftie Cardinal Richeleu and keep lopping the heads of every badly-moustachio’d camel driver until we’re wading knee-deep in happiness, but …

    …there’s only binary options now.
    Go the clean and isolationist route of Corbyn, Trump, Sanders, Trudeau, and do the nice process thing and go up the UN and seek further Security Council resolutions with sanctions.

    Not a bad route if you consider the success with Iran only three months ago. But then again, Iran was not engaged in a hot civil war for five years. In this route, no Euro blood spilt, non-internventionist left happy, and the floods of migrants keep coming.

    Double down. A cross between the US-coalitions in the Middle East, radicalized and well funded Islam, the Arab Spring itself, and plummeting oil revenues to prop up internal coalitions, has so destabilized the Middle East that there’s no choice but to join the Russians and Turks and essentially lay even more waste to Syria:

    Go in with the Russians now, because the upside reward of the Russians getting the only stable foothold In Syria, and strengthening the Iran-Syria-Russia alliance has too much bile rising.

    Instal a puppet regime for a few years. Divide Syria up with controlled zones like Germany 1945.

    Since I’m feeling cocky, I predict US allies will sit it out and allow the Russians more of the field.

    The risk that plays is that Russia will wait for the House of Saud to fall, and then they will have firm allies in Syria, the rump Saudi state, Iran, the Kurdish territory, and likely more. That leaves the US ally in the remainder of Iraq somewhat isolated. Ouch.

    • These two options are those of the rival imperialist blocs separately or together to correct the ‘destabilisation’ you talk of.
      If you analyse ‘stabilisation’ it means a reliable, compliant dictatorship of the fascist Assad variety or a fake democratic dictatorship of the UNSC.
      What’s the difference? Both mean imperialist troops on the ground to smash a popular revolution.
      This is called the liberal’s dilemma when there doesnt seem to be any difference between democracy and fascism anymore.
      But scratch a liberal and you find a reactionary.

      There is a third alternative that has been deliberately suppressed by the Western RT left and that is the popular uprising against Assad.

      Its a lie to reduce this to a CIA project or to Saudi arms when both (and Turkey) have conspired to stop the arming of the opposition.

      None have provided the only weapons necessary to defeat Assad, SAMS.

      It is a lie to claim that Assad has more than minority support.
      Until Russia began its targeting of the revolution 4 months ago, Assad was losing. Not to the IS but to the many local popular militias such as that which held Aleppo for years.

      How can anyone claim Assad has legitimacy after gas attacks and barrel bombing of civilians.

      Why if Assad has legitimacy does he now need Russia to blast Aleppo into the dark ages?

      The socialist and anarchist left that buys this ruling class shit is no better than the bourgeois perps who unleash genocide on the Syrians.

      Why? Because they have turned their backs on our only hope which is to mobilise worker support for the Syrian (and any other) revolution despite and because of the apparently unwinnable prospect of defeating the class enemy on 4 fronts –

      (1) the imperialists US and its willing mates plus the Russia China bloc who will kill millions for the last drop of oil.

      (2) Assad and his mercenaries who will complete the genocide of the people and raising of the cities before surrender to ‘terrorism’.

      (3) The IS and other jihardis who are opportunists attempting to insert themselves into the vacuum caused by the unresolved civil war and who are useful as armed thugs against the revolution.

      (4) The Western crypto Stalinist left which sits on the sidelines indulging in geopolitical handwashing as the counter-revolutionary armies compete on bodycount and oilwells, tut tutting about how it is all so gruesome and uncivilised.

      Fortunately for the fate of humanity, when the people rise up they see clearly that there isnt a hell of a lot of difference between Russian bombs, Hezbollah and RT ‘socialist’ lies when you count the dead children.


      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        A populist uprising full of fighters from Europe, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Chechnya?

        Doesn’t sound like a popular uprising to me. Sounds like an effort to establish a new Sunni Caliphate.

        • dave brown

          The Syrian opposition is mainly Syrians.
          Are you also implying that foreigners must be terrorists?
          You have fallen for the RT line that makes the opposition evil foreign terrorists to justify Russian intervention in support of Assad.
          There have been isolated cases of Westerners fighting for the opposition and getting pinged when they go home.
          The great shame is that there are so few of them forming international brigades to overthrow Assad.
          Its Assad who relies on Iranian and Hezbollah fighters to kill his own subjects.
          Go and look at the documentation of the opposition fighters from 2011 from their own sources.
          Scratch a liberal and up pops a reactionary.

          • Colonial Viper

            The Syrian opposition is mainly Syrians.

            Supplemented by masses of fighters, arms and monies from across the world, and especially the regional enemies of Assad who want to see Syria wrecked into scrap, and the ascendence of a Sharia Sunni rulership in Damascus.

            27,000 foreign fighters from 86 countries helping ISIS in Iraq and Syria


            • dave brown

              Who gives a f**k what the Guardian says.
              It is singing to the social imperialist narrative that ordinary Syrians are dupes of outside powers and made up of foreign ‘terrorists’.
              This is the narrative that the RT socialist parrot in unison with Russian imperialism to justify bombing Aleppo and other rebel held cities and towns to rubble.
              Yes the US is by far the main enemy of the Arab peoples but Russia is trying to catch up quick.
              Go and read what the revolutionary fighters say about IS and Russia as counter-revolutionary forces.
              As I said above it is those against the revolution that are made up of many foreign fighters.
              IS is against the revolution and fighting Assad only when it advances its plan to form a caliphate. It is third in the ranks of those who kill the revolutionaries, after Assad and Russia.
              The revolutionary opposition is made up of the ordinary working Syrians who fight Assad, the IS and Russia. It has some foreign fighters who are in solidarity with the revolution, not agents of foreign powers.
              To disappear this revolution leaves the social imperialist left as faux liberal apologists for imperialist counter-revolution.

      • Ad 4.1.2

        I didn’t bother with the ‘little guy wins’ option because it had the same chance as all Syrian motorways being paved with cherry blossoms. It’s been a long time since the actors on the ground either Assad or opposition had a shit show of controlling the outcome.

        The idea of worker revolution curing Syria, like Spain 1928 redux?
        Yeah Nah. Class is the weakest vector in this matrix. “When the people rise up they see clearly that there isn’t a hell of a lot of difference” …. except that The People vote the Great Popular Arabian Spring Front option with their feet as fast as they can to Europe with no sign of stopping.

        The outcome will be decided by one patrician/neo-imperialist/hyper-radicalised bunch or other. Lord Dannatt is forcing the right conversation. Faster the better.

        • dave brown

          Well arnt you just a delightful cynic calling in the bombers.
          So in your judgement neither Assad or the opposition can win so imperialist barbarity is the lesser evil.
          Don’t you acknowledge that the opposition were winning until recently which was why Russia stepped in.
          I said it was difficult to fight on three fronts.
          Your answer: too bad its up to the big boys.
          No you are worse than a cynic you a patronising Westerner who writes off the agency of the Syrian people most whom are working people so yes, a class vector, supercilious you.
          And don’t you think that Assad, Obomber and Putin represent ruling classes.
          After 5 years of the imperialists isolating the revolution you say its useless because millions are fleeing from war.
          Typical Western arrogance in condemning the Syrian masses to a genocide.
          Scratch a liberal find a reactionary.

          • Ad

            This is way more complex than your facile reach for leftie virtue.
            Emote all you like.
            And no, Obama, Assad and Putin are not interchangeable.

            “Revolution” is the magic unicorn of the hard left.

            Scratch a political child and they just cry.

            • dave brown

              Oh yeah I suppose that is your standard reply in lieu of debate.
              Your opponents are emotional cry babies.
              Tell that to the Syrian revolutionary fighters giving their lives for the ‘democracy’ that you cynically exploit.
              There is nothing more emotional than the mass murder of civilians especially women and children.
              I suppose you rejection of revolution is not an emotional attachment to counter-revolution.
              Read the links in my posts above that do not base themselves on the corporate media and try and work out how to separate the facts about a revolution from social imperialist mythology.
              Good luck.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      And the Baghdad Government is quite partial to Iran.

      • Ad 4.2.1

        Which sounds closer to peace than most options I’ve heard.

        • RedLogix


          In the long run this is all going to become a LOT worse before it ever gets better. The nearest historic parallel I can think of is the Roman destruction of Judea around CE 135, with many of the same underlying forces at work.

          Essentially a conservative religious creed that regards it’s tenets as the final and perpetual Word of God, cannot at root brook permanent compromise or integration with the dominant forces of the modern world. This can have only one outcome.

          Of course this didn’t mean that the Romans lasted forever either. They too faced their own demons.

          • Ad

            Curious comparison.
            The graft of Christianity onto the Roman Empire extended the duration of the empire by well over a millennia. It also had the reverse effect of accelerating Christianity into an unequalled bureaucratic machine for its own expansion.

            I like the idea of Syria-iraq-Afghanistan being essentially the maturing process for both US-backed imperialism and Islam. But that’s a whole bunch of ruination to get there. And no guarantee of a similar outcome.

            I’m not even sure the world would survive it.

            • Colonial Viper

              I like the idea of Syria-iraq-Afghanistan being essentially the maturing process for both US-backed imperialism and Islam.

              Except since the 1970s the USA has been backing virulent forms of militant Islamism in order to fulfil its geopolitical aims, starting with Saudi Arabia then moving on to Afghanistan.

              At the same time the US has frequently intervened to fuck over moderate, democratic or secular leaders in the Middle East.

              The upshot of supporting Islamic militancy and wrecking secular/moderate Middle East states over a period of years and years is visible for all to see.

  5. A Tory with both “General” and “Lord” in his title thinks we should ally ourselves with the murderous authoritarian dictatorships in a conflict? Quelle surprise! Do you figure the Tory view is likely to be a popular one on this blog? Because my money’s on “No.”

  6. A Tory with both “General” and “Lord” in his title thinks we should ally ourselves with the murderous authoritarian dictatorships in a conflict? Quelle surprise! Do you figure the Tory view is likely to be a popular one on this blog? Because my money’s on “No.”

  7. Grim 7

    The reply to function on this board is bad, placing reply directly below posts halfway up the page, who sees those?
    scroll through the whole thread to see new replies. Not intuitive.

    The design leads itself to people stating their opinion without seeing feedback, no clarification or correction of information, no discussion = no building of better ideas.

    Please don’t use “reply” post new comment and use quotes, thanks.

  8. Grim 8

    Elephant’s in the room:

    Greater Israel Project
    Yinon Plan

    Now that Russia is advising Assad not to expect to retake all of Syria,
    the balkanization of the middle east continues,
    falls in line with the Yinon plan.
    Israel and Russian quietly very friendly.

    Turkey overstepping and exposing itself to breakup,
    Greece offered Western Turkey by Russia in exchange for assistance.

    Saudi fighting on multiply fronts, Yemen plus “war games” starting soon.
    big corner of Saudi for Greater Israel Plan

    Jordan Basin, Nile etc: water resources, oil was a temporary prize, it’s all about the water always has been, habitable, arable land.

    Order from Chaos , eventually big players will step in to setup new borders to “stabilize” the region.

    Earth’s climate is cyclic, ice ages come and go, tipping points triggered by both natural and man can cause runaway global warming, both have the same result.

    Most of the earth will be uninhabitable.

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