Tag Archives: Idlib

Idlib – time for some Liberal guilt

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Why do we forget about Syria so easily? The answer is probably that, most of the time, it does not matter to us. After all, Lloyd-George (a Liberal prime minister) shamefully agreed to the Anglo-French partition of the former Ottoman provinces into mandates in April 1920 and handed Syria over to France – even though this was not what most Syrians wanted.  Since then, it hasn’t been our problem, has it?

After the Arab Spring reached Damascus in March 2011, the West assumed Bashar al Assad would soon be gone, and let Syrians think we would support them if they managed to throw him out. No formal promises were made – just hints – but Syrians looked to the West and some may have been encouraged to join those rising in rebellion as a result.

I remember how our party conference voted against military intervention after the chemicals weapon attack in August 2013. From talking to people who voted down the motion, “we’ll only risk making things worse” seemed to be the general view, despite the passionate urgings of our leadership. As someone who loves Syria and has some knowledge of the country, I wondered why we were worried about a few hundred deaths from chemicals. Well over a hundred thousand had already been slaughtered by the country’s army. The answer, of course, was that chemical weapons might one day be used against us – so we didn’t want Bashar al Assad to have them. But it was relatively OK for him to bomb his own people.

Then, of course, came the flow of refugees to Europe. Germany provided moral leadership, but would the UK and most of the rest of Europe step up? Not on your Nelly!

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 36 Comments
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