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The Cameron “plan” for Syria

Syrian bombsiteWhile the contributions ring out in the House last night, Dave’s scheme for Syria has finally taken on some flesh. Well, that assertion is perhaps too generous. Vapours would be more accurate. But a plan of sorts exists, which is more than bombing for appearance’s sake, or bombing and hoping for the best.

Dave’s grand strategy got a full airing on Channel 4 News via his Philip Hammond appendage. Those 70,000 figments of his imagination have now assumed form. They comprise some 20,000 Kurds and 50,000 assorted moderates, apparently. The RAF’s unique capability to smash IS forces and installations accurately and without civilian casualties in the complete absence of reliable, on-the-ground intelligence is something this army needs if they’re to smash their way into Raqqa and liberate the town of the blight that befell them.

Of course, the fiercest fighting taking place is between Assad’s forces and that of the rebel groups variously organised under the Free Syrian Army banner. The involve some progressive, secular, and democratic forces. And groups that are not. Yet there’s no reason why any of them would break from their fight with the dictator’s army and turn their guns exclusively against IS. For the Dave plan to work, that has to happen.

Luckily, the plan is underpinned by another plan to solve this thorny issue. The big powers have met with various Syrian opposition figures as part of the Vienna Process. It’s early days, but Hammond gave the long-drifted idea that some sort of conciliatory compromise can be struck between Assad and his non-Islamist opposition whereby his dictatorship would give way to an interim administration, followed by democratic government. This would free up these sides to turn their attentions against IS and crush them.

According to Hammond, the only man standing in the way of the scheme is one Vladimir Putin. Therefore the British bombing campaign is premised upon a road map that no one, not the Russians, not Assad’s regime, and neither the FSA nor the Kurds are signed up to yet.

And what are the chances of such a deal getting struck? By any reckoning they cannot be described as generous. Putin’s interest in Syria is the maintenance of a reliable ally in the Middle East. He knows what Russia can expect should Assad remain in power, hence why FSA positions are getting a hammering. The Kremlin is hardly likely to assent to an uncertain transitional government where, at best, a question mark is raised over the fidelity that has with Russian geopolitical interests.

From Putin’s perspective, under the name of democracy his opponents in Washington, Paris, and London are looking to install a regime more congenial to their designs for the region. And one does not need to be a Putin cheerleader to see that is more or less correct. What, did you think the US bombed IS positions on behalf of the Kurdish YPG out of kindness as opposed to a coincidence of interests? IS are hardly an existential threat, despite their bloody crimes, but they do stand in the way of a permanent settlement in the region what would leave US hegemony unchallenged by Russia and Iran. With diametrically opposed interests, the idea Russia are going to roll over on a perceived strategic asset is thinking more woolly than anything ever uttered by pacifists demonstrating outside the Palace of Westminster.

If Dave didn’t desperately want his war, surely military action would post-date, not precede a plan of action. But, again, the war drive draws deep from a desire to be seen to be doing something and, of course, to play the war leader. Dave’s plan is fragmentary, vapid, and depends the unfolding of an unlikely scenario. There is no case for bombing.


  1. David Ellis says:

    This just in:

    Breaking News: December 3, 2016

    America shoots down third Russian jet in a week as Assadist and Iranian troops surround Raqqa. Population flees in fear of its life.

    British Parliament to debate bombing Egypt as Islamist State in Iraq, Syria and Egypt consolidates its grip in the rest of the Middle East.

    Nuclear armed Russian bombers continue to buzz Scotland whilst America warns Putin of dire consequences if it nukes Faslane up to and including sanctions on Vodka and sausage.

  2. Susan O'Neill says:

    David Ellis – I thought you were a Russophobe but this Breaking News is a p**s take on the EU right wingers, whatever, I thought it amusing and it gave me a laugh. Faslane – ha haha, the Ruskies will be occupying the Dogger Bank and mooring their nuclear subs under the Chunnel where they can’t be spotted.

    1. David Ellis says:

      I certainly don’t get a warm martyrs glow at the idea of dying under Russian nukes in the name of anti-imperialism.

  3. Susan O'Neill says:

    Owen Jones and your goodselves are giving the lefties of Britain a bad name. Not only does Jones prostitute himself for the Guardian with articles on barrel bombs, misrepresenting Assad utterly, but he fails to mention the opposition bombing of Ghoutta by the Syrian “moderate” opposition using Sarin gas. If you think Assad is a dictator, despite the fact that he has an overwhelming popularity, what do you call Netanyahu and his ilk, or the “Royal” House of Saud and their despotic regime, throw in Qatar and Kuwait, Turkey’s Erdogan and his murder of the Kurds. I could go on, but there comes a point whereby no amount of evidence in support of a truth weighs in worth, the lies of propaganda unsupported by facts either on the ground or in the written word. They’re right of course, the British lefties are buttressing Cameron’s demand that Assad must go and it makes me ashamed to be a British socialist. I wonder if I could change my name to Baboushka

  4. Susan O'Neill says:

    Qatar is part of the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish war to overthrow Syria’s Russia-allied leader, Bashar al-Assad. The royal owners of Qatar, the Thani family, want to build through Syria a gas-pipeline to get Qatar’s gas into Europe to supplant Russia’s gas there. Russia’s ally Assad stands in the way of that. Also, the Russian government is in reality, and not only in principle, opposed to jihadists and a fusion of church and state. So, Russia has both ideological and economic reasons to be standing firm in support of Assad. The Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, have indicated that Israel is their friend and Palestinians are their enemy because Israel too wants the Shiite Assad and Shiite-run Iran to fall. So, if purely economic motives dominate on one side or the other, it’s probably on the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish side where greed is the main motivation. This is the reason why America’s side refers to Assad as a “dictator,” but doesn’t refer to its own allies as being “dictators” or “regimes” — not even the Sauds. However, the purest dictatorship that’s involved in this conflict is Saudi Arabia (whose royalty are the chief financial backers of Al Qaeda). Next would be Qatar.

  5. prianikoff says:

    The Chanel 4 news report interviewed a leader from the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Northern Iraq.

    When Tories and right wingers talk about “supporting the Kurds”, this is who they mean – the Barzani controlled KDP and its Peshmerga.
    This is not the same group as the YPG-J in Syria ,the PKK in the Quandil Mountains, or its youth group in South East Turkey.

    It was the PKK which liberated large areas of Sinjar last year, withouth any help from the USAF. The KDP and Peshmerga did a deal with ISIS and ran away, until they were re-armed and pushed to fight them.

    The PKK were also heavily involved in the liberation of Sinjar city last month, though it was kept out of the British Press.

    Unfortunately most of the British left are totally ill-informed about Kurdish and Turkish politics and blur the distinctions.

    Barzani was supposed to have stepped down last summer and there have been riots against non-payment of salaries in his fiefdom.

    The Tories are quite happy to send heavy weapons to the Kurish Autonomous region because the US, Britain and Turkey have business interests there.

    But a British court jailed Silan Ocelik an 18 year old North London girl who wanted to support the PKK.

    The differences between the pro-Ocalan groups like the PYD and PKK are profound, even if they are in a united front together.
    As profound as the differences between the Partisans and Cetniks in Yugoslavia during WW2, or between the CCP and KMT in China.

    One could critique Ocalan’s chanelling of the semi-anarchist Murray Bookchin, but as the guys been on ice for over 15 years and denied access to books, who knows how they’re messing with his head.
    However, the organisation he built remains and has mass support.

  6. prianikoff says:

    to clarify, the above should read:-

    The differences between the pro-Ocalan groups like the PYD and PKK and the pro-Barzani KDP are profound, even if they are in a united front together.”

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