Notes From the Margins…

It’s Official: Stop the War is Responsible for the Syrian Civil War

  • November 08, 2015
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I am not a member of the Stop the War Coalition, but I have been part of the movement ever since the lead up to the Iraq War.  I may not agree with all of its positions, and I don’t share the politics of some of its members, but I share its central aims, and I can’t help noticing that the usual criticisms against it have risen to a new crescendo.

No one will be surprised that  Douglas Murray  regards Stop the War as ‘ a meeting point for hardline Stalinists and Islamists to pursue their own imperial policies.’  Or even that the Guardian’s Rafael Behr  sees it as “a doctrinaire pressure group that sets its moral compass by quasi-Leninist rejection of ‘western imperialism’ ” – a concept that less ‘doctrinaire’ pundits like Behr always put in scaremarks, because as every liberal interventionist knows, there is no such thing as western imperialism, only lots of good men and women trying to do the best thing in a bad world.

The traces of that touching benevolence can be found from Central Asia to North Africa, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen – and to some extent Syria, but none of that ever seems to phase the Behrs and Nick Cohens of this world, who always seem to know, or at least believe, that the next ‘intervention’ will be better than the last.

So criticisms of STW are only to be expected from these quarters.   But Stop the War has also been attacked from the left  over its position on Syria.  In the past four years it has been accused of hypocrisy,double standards, racism and Orientalism, betraying the Syrian revolution, supporting Bashar al-Assad and acting as apologists for dictatorship.

At times anyone listening to these criticisms would be forgiven for thinking that if Stop the War didn’t exist, then the Syrian revolution would have triumphed, or at least that this horrific war would have been brought to some kind of positive conclusion. .

Some of these criticisms were repeated during last week’s discussion in London, which Peter Tatchell and a number of Syrian and non-Syrian solidarity activists attempted to disrupt, on the grounds that Syrians were not represented.  I wasn’t at the meeting, but from what I have read, and from what I have seen in the long section devoted to this episode  in Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics show, it is clear that by Syrians, these protesters only referred to Syrians in favour of western military intervention.

The sudden interest that a rightwinger  like Neil should take in Stop the War discussions is partly an indirect tribute to the coalition’s influence, and partly yet another attempt to undermine Jeremy Corbyn by association with ‘Stalinists and Leninists’,  following last week’s announcement that the Labour leader may consult Stop the War in the event of proposals to extend Britain’s bombing campaign in Iraq to Syria.

Certainly one would like to see Neil hectoring Philip Hammond or Michael Fallon the way he hectored Diane Abbott about why no Syrians were allowed to attend diplomatic talks in Vienna, .but don’t hold your breath about that.

The criticisms emanating from Tatchell and the Syrian solidarity activist Muzna cannot be dismissed as part of some rightwing smear plot however,  regardless of how they might be used by people like Neil.  For some leftists,  Stop the War is the most visible manifestation of the supposedly intellectually and morally decadent left that has ‘turned its back’ on Syria and the Syrian revolution and embraced a phony internationalism that is only directed at the West.

These accusations can be found in articles, Internet sites and Facebook chat sites, and some of them have been directed at me personally,  in response to articles that I have written. Their tone is often as inquisitorial and hectoring as Neil’s faux-moralistic interrogation of Diane Abbott.

Speaking for myself, I admit that my position on Syria is not without contradictions, but I don’t think that contradictions are unique to those of us who have opposed western military intervention in this war.

As far as being an ‘apologist’ for Assad is concerned, I have never really doubted the brutality of the Syrian regime..  That was clear long before the war started, whether it was the behavior of the Syrian army in Lebanon or its participation as offshore torturer during the Bush terror wars. Those who praise Syria as part of the ‘axis of resistance’ often ignore such things, just as they ignore the participation of Bashar al-Assad’s father in the first Gulf War.

Nevertheless, it was clear quite early on  in the war that some of the violence attributed to Assad was being deliberately exaggerated by the regime’s opponents – both Syrian and non-Syrian, in order to justify another ‘humanitarian intervention’.

I cannot think of any armed conflict in history in which major news outlets have relied for casualty figures and details for the most part on a single organization, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – run by an opponent of Assad’s who runs a clothes shop in Coventry.

I didn’t believe that Assad used chemical weapons on the eve of UN weapons inspections – not because I am an ‘apologist’ for such actions, but because it was so obviously not in Assad’s political and military interests to cross Obama’s ‘red line’ and trigger military intervention which his government was clearly anxious to avoid.

It is a legitimate criticism to say that I – and other sections of the left – have not always spoken out against the atrocities carried out by the Syrian security forces and their paramilitary allies.  But those leftists who accuse us of being apologists for genocide etc. have been equally silent about the massacres of Christians and the killings of Syrian army prisoners by elements of the opposition – and I’m not referring to Isis/Daesh here.

Those who accuse us of betraying the revolution ignore the reactionary politics that permeate so much of the Syrian opposition and their foreign backers.  Should I call people who don’t mention such things hypocrites and ‘apologists’?  No, and I won’t do it.  But those who throw out such accusations at Stop the War fail to explain which elements of an opposition that now includes about 1,000 armed groups could take power or hold Syria together.

Those who protest the exclusion of Syrians from Stop the War conferences are unlikely to refer to polls – admittedly made in wartime conditions – that continue to suggest that close to half the Syrian population has supported Assad’s government throughout the war.

Could that support disappear if the war ended? Almost certainly, but the presentation of the Syrian war as a conflict between the radical evil of Assad on one hand versus ‘the Syrian people’ on the other entirely fails to explain how the regime has lasted so long, or why some 35,000 Syrian soldiers have died defending it, or what would happen to the Syrians that have supported the regime if the Free Syrian Army or Jabhat al-Nusra took power.

There was a similar tendency amongst the liberal advocates of military intervention in Iraq to talk about nothing but ‘Saddam’, as though the Iraqi state and Iraqi society were embodied by a single person, and all that was necessary was to ‘remove’ him, as Tony Blair likes to put it.   Those interventionists often referred to Iraqis and their ‘Iraqi friends’ to support their cause and give it greater credibility.

I agree that is a tendency amongst some sections of the left to take an all-encompassing conspiratorial view of the Syrian war that ignores Syrians and the internal dynamics of Syrian society that drove the conflict.  There are those who believe that the entire war was solely due to proxy interventions.   That isn’t a view that I share.

The protests that began in 2011 were clearly the consequence of the political and economic failings of an authoritarian political system that was well past its sell-by date, all of which were exacerbated by the country’s long-running drought,  the disastrous and bloody development of the Iraq war and the onset of the ‘Arab spring.’

Though Assad had previously presented himself as a political reformer – not without justification – his government reacted to these protests with extreme violence, as Arab governments often do whenever their power is threatened.  But these developments provided an opportunity to Syria’s neighbors – and the Western powers that had wanted regime change in Syria  for years beforehand – to enter the conflict and militarize it still further without regard for the consequences..

In these circumstances it was entirely logical to regard the proposals for military intervention as an extension of the process begun in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to regard no fly zones as a lever to bring about regime change, just as they had been in Libya.

There was nothing in the recent history of such interventions to suggest that they would have any other result, except to turn Syria into yet another failed state, and a base for further attacks on Iran and Hezbollah that would strengthen Israel and the reactionary Gulf tyrannies into the bargain.

That position doesn’t make us ‘apologists’; it’s simply a question of priorities in a situation where the options  quickly  ranged from bad to worse.  It was and is a question of trying to separate what is desirable – the end of the Ba’athist regime and a democratic government that represents all Syria’s minorities and upholds their political and civil rights – from what was always more likely – the complete destruction of Syria as a society and as a state and the destabilisation of an entire region.

When the war began, I thought the best possible outcome  was an interim political arrangement in which would Assad would temporarily remain before paving the way for some kind of coalition government – but the humanitarians of the Gulf States and their western allies shot down that option at Geneva with their insistence on his departure as a precondition for further talks.

Now, in the short term at least, I think a temporary political/military arrangement between the Assad government – preferably without Assad himself – and those elements of the Syrian opposition and their foreign supporters (and not only Russia and Iran) may be the only way to defeat Daesh and the takfiri groups, prevent Syria from total disintegration and endless violence,  and ensure a future in which politics becomes possible once again.

Calling for the ‘Syrian revolution’ to do this, and berating Stop the War for not doing so too, is just posturing and pointscoring.

In a war in which neither side can defeat the other, the choices are not nearly as pristine as some of these critics  sometimes seem to think they are.  Wars like this tend to end in ugly, messy compromises – Algeria being one of many examples.

Right now, ending the war in Syria ought to be the single, overriding priority, rather than criticizing those who oppose yet another strategically clueless British military intervention.

And even though my position doesn’t fill me with a warm glowing feeling,  I have yet to hear any arguments, whether from Syrians or non-Syrians, to make me change it..


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  1. Andy

    8th Nov 2015 - 9:15 pm

    There are very strong rumours that well armed ‘rebels’ were already in position when the alleged revolution began and that Assad’s security services were responding to what they were doing. Having said that, the real truth will be difficult to ascertain.
    The best evidence of Assad’s support can be drawn from where the refugees have fled to. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 6.5 million have actually took refuge internally, with another three million going to neighbouring countries. So from a population of around 22m prior to the war it would appear that 19m Syrians still prefer to be under Assad’s protection. In my view, outsiders do not have the right to decide the Syrian constitution and certainly a government as corrupt and despised as Saudi Arabia should have zero influence.

    • Matt

      8th Nov 2015 - 10:00 pm

      I agree that Saudi Arabia should have no such right, and I think the same thing is true of all the other foreign participants in this war, including Russia and Iran.

      • Andy

        9th Nov 2015 - 9:36 am

        Because this conflict hasn’t been a popular revolution and has been instigated by outside influence (Syria has been ear marked for regime change by several countries including the US, UK and France) I would have to disagree with you. Russia, Iran and Hezbollah assistance has been requested by the legitimate government of Syria. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for Russian intervention with regards to Chemical weapons, Syria would be in an even worse state by now, probably on a par with the complete mess created in Libya.

      • Idrees

        9th Nov 2015 - 10:09 pm

        Matt Carr: Of course you are an Assad apologist and a truther. Educate yourself and avoid commenting on subjects you know nothing about.

        • Matt

          10th Nov 2015 - 12:39 am

          Well thanks for that thoughtful and nuanced contribution – it’s really made me rethink everything. Your insults don’t really surprise me, given what you’ve said about Seymour Hersh and Patrick Cockburn, but I hope you don’t talk like this to your seminar students, because in my experience, people who tell me to ‘ avoid commenting on subjects you know nothing about’ usually mean ‘ avoid commenting on subjects if I don’t like or approve of your comments.’ But on this site I write what I damn well please, about whatever I damn well please, and as much as you are entitled to your contempt, I do not intend to change that habit. Nevertheless I will certainly read your piece, despite your unbearable arrogance.

        • Andy

          10th Nov 2015 - 9:47 am

          I read your essay before I responded. I try to read as much information regarding a particular subject that interests me, not just the ones I’m likely to agree with. There are many points I could dispute but I don’t need to go in to detail. The response to your article by Syracide refutes your clumsy attack on Assad better than I ever could. For the record, I’m no admirer of Assad, I think the alternative for the Syrian people would be a catastrophe and when all is said and done, they are the ones who desperately need a solution. Those intent on regime change (Turkey, Saudi and Qatar particularly) couldn’t care less about civilian casualties or human rights and it would seem, neither do you. We only need refer to Libya to understand what the US, UK and France regard as successful operations to liberate the people.

          • Matt

            10th Nov 2015 - 9:59 am

            Sorry Andy, I don’t quite see your point here. Who is Syracide? And why does criticizing Assad mean than I am on the side of regime changers mean that I ‘couldn’t care less about civilian casualties’? Haven’t I spent some considerable time arguing against proponents of regime change and the transformation of Syria into a proxy battleground? Haven’t I said in the same article that you are criticizing that Libya was a disaster – and that it was one of the reasons why I and so many others opposed similar interventions in Syria? I don’t follow.

        • kurringai

          11th Nov 2015 - 6:34 am

          A look at Idrees’ nuance-stripped article, which tries so hard to be more than rhetoric, but alas… more of the same driven, cock-sure, context-limited drivel that helps drive US-inspired cataclysms. Strange for a guy who wrote about the neo-conservative influence on US foreign policy. But of course, this is different. Of course…

          Idrees, give Matt a break. Don’t subject him to the embarrassing logical fallacy of an appeal to your own authority – one that isn’t readily borne out by your article. You’re sort of contemptuous without being self-aware. Contempt will eat you out like a tape worm.

          “Educate yourself and avoid commenting on subjects you know nothing about.”. Can you hear yourself? And given the weakness of your own article, don’t you really feel a bit silly publically beating your chest with that laughable sense of your own brilliance?

      • kurringai

        11th Nov 2015 - 2:28 am

        Yes, but what do the Syrians want? They may prefer Iran and Russia to protect their interests.

  2. Louis Proyect

    9th Nov 2015 - 11:41 pm

    “As far as being an ‘apologist’ for Assad is concerned, I have never really doubted the brutality of the Syrian regime..”

    This disclaimer appears nearly across the entire spectrum of the Assadist amen corner, including the Party of Socialism and Liberation, the American counterpart to John Rees’s group. It is a kind of sugar coating that makes the bitter pill inside more palatable, from quoting polls that Assad is popular to denying that he was responsible for a sarin gas attack. Does Matt Carr think that this is not transparent to those who follow the Baathist amen corner? We were not born yesterday, after all.

    • Matt

      10th Nov 2015 - 12:43 pm

      Louis Proyect and Muhammad Idrees within little more than an hour of each other! Must be my lucky day. Well call me an apologist – whoops you already have – but as far as I can see there are only bitter pills in the Syrian catastrophe. And there are polls which suggest that Assad does enjoy substantial popularity. If he didn’t, then he would have gone the same route as the Shah by now. If he didn’t then there would have been a revolution rather than a civil war. And the fact that there wasn’t the former, whatever people like you say, is not due to what people like me and Stop the War say. And perhaps, when you’ve finished berating the left for not being as revolutionary as you clearly think you are, you might explain an alternative scenario to how this war might end, apart from the scenario that I’ve tentatively outlined? Otherwise please go away.

      • Dave

        13th Nov 2015 - 5:03 pm

        That is a bit of a silly argument really.

        Relying on polls Re Assads popularity. He is a fascist dictator Syrians would be rather reticent in answering this poll in the negative would they? They would end up just being shot and tortured, thats what fascist dictators do.

        He has not gone the same way as the Shah due to being propped up by Russia and Iran both militarily and financially with the help of Hezbollah (Party of God)

        Then the funniest riposte at the end which amounts to, do not criticise me unless you (Louis Proyect) provide a neatly packaged route map for eternal peace in Syria. Which is just an ad hoc adjustment ex post facto serving to do nothing more than the creation of Matt Carrs echo chamber. Rather similar to STWC echo chamber attempts by banning Syrian voices at the recent meeting in Parliament.

        • Matt

          13th Nov 2015 - 10:34 pm

          The sneering contempt of you armchair revolutionaries never ceases to amaze me. I never said I couldn’t be criticized, I said why don’t you outline alternative scenarios to the ones I’ve outlined. As for echo chambers, did it ever occur to you that you yourself might be in one yourself – with the volume turned up to screeching level? Because when people respond to me the way you have, I can’t help thinking of the Doonesbury cartoon character who says ‘ I wish I was so certain about anything as that guy is about everything.’

    • kurringai

      11th Nov 2015 - 2:38 am

      “This disclaimer appears nearly across the entire spectrum of the Assadist amen corner” –

      This is not an argument, its just a reapplication of the smear. You smear, the object rejects this and explains why quite cogently, you then bring all your genius to bear by pointing out the bleeding obvious – that he rejects your smear..

      How many other societies need to get destroyed, by your reckoning, before these faux neo-Liberal revolutions will produce a flourishing democracy?

  3. Bryan Hemming

    10th Nov 2015 - 8:16 am

    ” … but the humanitarians of the Gulf States and their western allies shot down that option at Geneva with their insistence on his departure as a precondition for further talks.”

    Insisting on conditions that are impossible to fulfil has become yet another cynical ploy by the Western axis of evil. It’s an irrelavence at this point. Besides, even if Russia desperately wanted Assad to go that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to reach for his coat.

    You can only play the same trick so many times before your intended audience start to see the mirrors and bits of string behind the smokescreen.

    Apart from giving terrorist groups, Arab tyrants and the NATO´s killing machine a transparent excuse to bomb, kill and maim ordinary Syrian civilians into oblivion, making impossible demands serves no purpose whatsoever. Added to that, its use as some sort of perverse propaganda tool has run its course to the point of becoming counter-productive. Just a glance at most of the comments sections of even right wing media outlets shows the credulity of a significant number of readers has been stretched way beyond its limit.

    The heads of many commenters must be spinning to see the difference between the reaction to one downed airliner just over a year ago and another with the latest tragedy in Egypt. Russia’s reaction has been consistent to both events, insofar as it has cautioned the West to be patient and wait for the results of investigations. Meanwhile, we are all still waiting for the verdict on MH17 to be backed up with real evidence, such as the satellite photos the US has refused to release.

    Once again, the West has rushed into making judgements and accusations based on little or no evidence. Though it has managed to refrain from blaming Putin personally for downing the aircraft, so far at least, Cameron hunger for headlines only succeeded in panicking British tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh, without offering them any realistic means of leaving the resort. Truth was, until security at the airport was thoroughly checked and approved, staying where they were was probably the best option, as opposed to taking to the air. After all, it was a plane that was knocked out of the sky.

    But Cameron had other objectives much more important than the welfare of the hordes of ordinary unwashed Brits soaking up the sun in Egypt. With a lickspittle corporate media firmly at heel, his intention was to land a political double whammy aimed at Sisi and Putin. But, instead of calming the stranded holidaymakers it achieved the opposite effect of causing terror, completing the aims of the terrorists for them. Russian tourists in the resort remained calm.

    As far as I can see, little has changed; in common with all the other Western leaders, Cameron still doesn’t really know what caused the event.

    We could be forgiven for asking who needs terrorists when Cameron is doing such an excellent job of terrorising his own citizens.

  4. Jen

    10th Nov 2015 - 12:00 pm

    ” … Though Assad had previously presented himself as a political reformer – not without justification, his government reacted to [the 2011] protests with extreme violence, as Arab governments often do whenever their power is threatened …”

    As a commenter before me has said already, there have been rumours that snipers were already among the protesters and were becoming violent, and that is why Syrian government reacted in the way it did.

    Had the Syrian government given in to the more violent protesters, they might well have escalated their demands and demanded that the entire Syrian government resign. Should Bashar al Assad have stood against them and replied with violence to these protesters, or should he have done what President Yanukovych did in February 2014: throw in the towel and flee into exile? What Assad faced in 2011 was very similar to what Yanukovych faced in Kiev from November 2013 to February 2014, what the Hong Kong authorities faced with the so-called Umbrella Revolution in late 2014, and what the Armenian government faced with the Electric Revolution in June 2015: these are the so-called colour revolutions.

    That Bashar al Assad has lasted as long as he has and that the Syrian Arab Army is still determined to fight on in spite of having suffered incredible casualties both suggest he does enjoy considerable public support. Assad was re-elected as President with 88% of the vote in June 2014 presidential elections in which over 70% of eligible voters voted in difficult wartime conditions.

    Incidentally these elections were the first to be held under a new Syrian constitution following constitutional reforms in 2012, under which the Ba’ath Party ceased being the leading party and Syria’s economy ceased being a planned socialist economy. The 2014 presidential elections were the first elections in Syria to allow candidates to challenge the incumbent President for the presidency.,_2014

    The elections were monitored by observers from several countries including the US. The team of US observers gave a press conference at the UN on the elections.

    I would like to ask if it’s usual for governments to make political reforms that introduce more democracy while their countries are at war.

    • Matt

      10th Nov 2015 - 12:56 pm

      Well going into exile would not have been a bad idea at all – preferably after an interim period with some kind of coalition government. Something like that might have prevented the kind of mayhem that has subsequently taken place. And just because snipers attack you – something that may or may not have been true – does not mean that you have a right to escalate the level of violence to the extremes that the Syrian security services and their paramilitary allies did very early on. Such a response is not only immoral: it’s also a huge political mistake. I don’t deny that Assad remains popular amongst a significant section of the Syrian population – I’ve argued that in this piece. But an armed insurrection that has lasted as long as this demonstrates equally that Assad’s opponents also have popular support, even they aren’t able to topple the government. And as for governments making political reforms in the midst of war – it’s not as unusual as you think. In fact it’s a fairly common counterinsurgency tactic. The Salvadoran military did this back in the 80s, with the support of the Reagan administration, when it allowed free elections – the better to marginalize and isolation the leftist opposition before escalating the war. So while I’m willing to admit that Assad has remained popular, I don’t believe for a second that the 88 percent tells the whole story. How can it, when whole swathes of the country are completely outside the control of the central government?

      • Andy

        10th Nov 2015 - 2:43 pm

        Sorry Matt, my earlier comment was to Idrees, not you and Syriacide was a commenter on the url Idrees posted. I wasn’t criticising you.

      • Jen

        11th Nov 2015 - 1:00 am

        “[Just] because snipers attack you … does not mean that you have a right to escalate the level of violence to the extremes that the Syrian security services and their paramilitary allies did very early on. Such a response is not only immoral: it’s also a huge political mistake.”

        There’s the possibility that if the Syrian security forces and their paramilitary allies responded in the way they did, they did so in self-defence because the sniper attacks were carried out at an extreme level of violence and viciousness originally.

        From Arutz Sheva / Israel National News (Gabe Kahn, 21 March 2011)

        “Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests
        Continued protests in Syria claim lives of seven police and four protesters, and result in burning a courthouse and Baath Party HQ in Daraa.”

        If protests result in more police being killed than protesters, and a courthouse and the headquarters of the dominant political party are torched, doesn’t that information in itself suggest that some protesters are prepared to use violence and extreme force to get their way? Would Syrian police and security forces have burned down Ba’ath Party headquarters in Daraa?

        This is not to say that Syria’s security forces are justified in over-reacting to the protests, if that is what they did. But if some demonstrators deliberately used the protests and the police reaction to escalate the violence and create chaos, leading to more over-reactions and an even greater level of violence, what would have been the appropriate response on the Syrian government’s part? Should Bashar al Assad have given up and fled, as Ukrainian President Yanukovych did in February 2014 when snipers embedded among the Kiev Maidan protesters, started killing police and demonstrators alike? You see what has happened in Ukraine since then: the continued domination of the government by corrupt oligarchs backed by the US and using gangs of fascist thugs to terrify and silence the population, the total collapse of the economy, the murders of activists by fascists in a trade union building in Odessa in May 2014, the war in eastern Ukraine that has claimed thousands of lives including those of 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet … You look also at what has happened in Iraq since 2003 and you have to ask yourself: does going into exile and being replaced by a government that could create and spread more mayhem now look like a better option?

        “But an armed insurrection that has lasted as long as this demonstrates equally that Assad’s opponents also have popular support, even they aren’t able to topple the government.”

        Well I have my doubts that Assad’s political opponents and those who claim to be “Syrian moderate rebels” can be considered the same or even overlapping, and I doubt also that many if not most of those fighting as “rebels” are even Syrian citizens.

        It has to be said also that while ISIS and other “rebel” groups do control large parts of Syria, these areas (mostly rural) are less populated than those controlled by the Syrian government.

  5. Brendan O'Brien

    10th Nov 2015 - 8:33 pm

    In general I agree with your article in the STWC website.
    I strongly believe there is a clear path to peace in Syria. People talk about how complicated it all is, but in essence it is a war between Assad and “moderate rebels”. The only question with Isis is when and how they will be destroyed (with every reasonable chance to disarm first and all possible measures to avoid deaths of innocent people). The war will not end until there is peace between Assad and the moderates. America and Russia, with their powerful regional allies, can enforce a ceasefire. Ultimately they can cut off arms to both sides. Many Syrians support Assad. Almost certainly many more would accept him if that was the price of peace. The Syrian people can ultimately decide who governs in elections.
    The UK government should be pushing hard for serious talks involving Obama and Putin.
    At present, even with Vienna, little is happening on the negotiations front. The reason is that the US/UK insist that Russia, and Iran, fall in with their position that Assad must go. They first said that when the war was only a few months old but never had any right to do so, and have obstructed possible peace proposals in many ways since then. They have no right to demand that Putin call for Assad’s ouster. They can hold this position themselves but certainly should not make it a barrier to serious attempts to end this catastrophe as soon as possible.
    When there is a ceasefire, the Syrian army, backed up by America and Russia, can eradicate Isis from their country. No other army can do this in a way which ensures stability after Isis have gone. When Isis are out of Syria they will be much easier to deal with in Iraq and elsewhere.
    When peace is restored to Syria there should be a Marshall Plan for that country, organised by the US, Europe and the Gulf States.

  6. Guano

    22nd Nov 2015 - 6:46 pm

    Oddly enough the critics of StWC are more Leninist than StWC. The critics appear to more firmly wedded to the idea of revolution than the supposed Leninists of StWC, though they want the revolution in somebody else’s country. The critics haven’t realised that a revolution is only the beginning and that the likely results of a revolution in the Middle East at present would be yet another failed state that would provide plenty of space for terrorists.

    Whenever I have talked to people who wanted regime change in Syria over the last three years, it has eventually become clear that they were making some deeply flawed assumptions, namely that Assad’s regime would fall quickly, that there were no problems with the opposition and that you could change a regime like you can change a light-bulb. The fallacy of these assumptions has become clear in the last few weeks, which is possibly why the people who made those assumptions are making a lot of noise and pointing at StWC.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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