by Bryan Hemming
What a strange idea removing Bashar Assad will solve all Syria’s problems is. Pray what will become of all the Syrians fighting against his removal? And why should any of us automatically assume the Syrian Army is solely fighting for the survival of Assad just because David Cameron says so. By the same flawed logic can we assume the average British serviceman is fighting for the survival of David Cameron and the Tories?
Present estimates of the Syrian Army put numbers at between 178,000 and 220,000 regular soldiers. Added to that it is believed there are another 80,000 to 100,000 fighting as irregular forces. Bearing that in mind, do US, French and British leaders honestly believe they are all going just to lay down their weapons, go home and wait for ISIS to pop round in order to decapitate them and their families in the unlikely event of hostilities ceasing as a direct result of air attacks? It didn’t work last time, or the time before that. Or even the time before that.
Hasn’t it occurred to Obama, Hollande and Cameron the losers of either side might hold the West responsible for their defeat? In reality, whatever the result, it is most probable all sides will the more they are subjected to air attacks. The terrible truth is that they will be right.
As it has happened before several times very recently, surely, the most likely outcome is that history will repeat itself once again. Do our leaders really think none of the Syrian soldiers risking their lives to support the status quo could possibly think to form their own death squads should they consider the West responsible for their defeat?
Already far more battle-experienced than most British servicemen even a very small percentage of the Syrian Army could go on to wreak havoc in Europe and the US if alienated by events. It might also be taken into account that a sizable number won’t want to risk the option of returning to their homes, even with the promise of a government composed of ‘moderate’ rebels. Would you risk it? And if their families have been killed by the same allied bombs, that saw their homes destroyed, they won’t have anything left to lose.
The idea the entire Syrian Army is fighting to keep Assad at the helm of Syria is as dangerous as it is plain stupid. Most soldiers will literally be fighting for their lives and the lives of their families. Assad’s future prospects will not be at the forefront of their minds. To assume otherwise is sheer Western arrogance.
If the West really wants to get rid of Assad, the means to do it is staring them in the face. Support the side with an identifiable leader, not a mish-mash of factions even US intelligence can’t untangle, despite having helped arm them.
Though it may seem improbable, to find a suitable parallel to follow, we need only to look at events in Britain immediately following WWII.
The first British general election after the Second World War was held on 5th July 1945, just two months after VE Day. Despite the media confidently predicting a win for wartime leader Winston Churchill, the Tory Party were trounced at the ballot box, as Clement Atlee led the Labour Party to a landslide. Returning servicemen demonstrated they hadn’t fought fascism just to retain Winston Churchill as their leader. By electing Atlee they rightly claimed victory for themselves and democracy. They saw it as rightly belonging to them, and the working class from which the vast majority had come, precisely because they had fought for it. Those not serving the war effort on the battlefield, at sea, or in the skies, had endured five long years of deprivation and bombing at home. They had strived in factories, mines and on the land.
The spectacular election win for Labour was a clear indication the British people had not fought for their leader or their king, but for themselves, their families and their futures. Experience of being ruled by a greedy elite for most of history showed them the Labour Party was the only route that would lead to them improving their lot. And there’s the rub, in common with nearly all Western leaders the last thing David Cameron wants is a president in Syria who represents the working class and democracy. So what’s Labour’s excuse?
Not to recognise historic similarities with the post-war general election in Britain could turn out to be the biggest mistake the Parliamentary Labour Party will ever make. Voting to join airstrikes in the House of Commons on Wednesday will be a vote against their own party members. Not only has the legality of such strikes not been established, many believe they will be illegal under present international law. To vote for war is effectively to vote for consigning the Labour Party to dustbin of history. There won’t be a second chance.