Ideas and news to get you thinking
The Syrian civil war has resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 people. In more than two years diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have failed. Now the U.S. and U.K have committed to supplying direct aid to the Syrian rebels. Sunday, "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused the British government of bullying and naivety in its approach to the conflict in his country", reports the BBC. Assad, in an interview in The Sunday Times said "Britain is determined to militarise the situation".
At a Friend's of Syria meeting in Rome, Thursday, William Hague, the British foreign secretary, said "military help was possible in the future". Currently the UK government claim to support the rebels but have not provided weapons.
The BBC carries part of The Sunday Times interview which says, "Mr Assad, in a rare interview with a Western newspaper, accused UK Prime Minister David Cameron's "naive, confused, unrealistic" government of trying to end an EU arms embargo so that the rebels could be supplied with weapons. "We do not expect an arsonist to be a firefighter," he said.
"To be frank, Britain has played a famously nonconstructive role in our region on different issues for decades, some say for centuries. "The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlights this tradition of bullying and hegemony."
He added: "How can we expect to ask Britain to play a role when it is determined to militarise the problem? "How can you ask them to play a role in making the situation better, more stable? How can we expect them to make the violence less while they want to send military supply to the terrorists and don't try to ease the dialogue between the Syrian(s)."
The Assad family has had a grip on Syria for more than 40 years.
Hague's response later Sunday as reported by the BBC was, "Britain cannot rule out providing arms to the Syrian opposition in the future. The situation in Syria now is "too dangerous to the peace and security of that entire region, and thereby to the world, to ignore it"." Hague maintains that Assad is "delusional".
Assad needs to remember that it is the British government playing these games and not the British people. Politicians formed the U.K. coalition government out of a failed election attempt. British people were so disillusioned with U.K politicians that no party returned a majority vote. This resulted in deals done, behind closed doors, to form a government.
Such a coalition government can never be called the people's choice.
So the British government, which many people would refute is truly legitimate, is attacking a foreign leader over his right to power. Assad does well to offer a nod to history. Colonial Britain had power in many countries in the past including those in the Middle East.
In 1916 diplomats from France and Great Britain drew up an agreement to carve up the Middle East into 'zones of influence' after the expected defeat of Ottoman Turkey in World War I. France would get the northern zone, including what are now Syria and Lebanon, while Britain would oversee the south, including Palestine, Jordan, and the Iraqi oil fields.(Full timeline here)
This week UK foreign secretary Hague silenced the Tory's coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, from discussing the Iraq war. That war may have ended but its terrible legacy lives on. The conclusion is that free speech in the coalition is not welcome. Some politicians are trying to silence claims that the Iraq war was all about the removal of Saddam Hussein. Too close for comfort as the U.K. looks to Syria and Assad?
The west, including the U.K. interfered in Iraq for its own ends. It has done so recently in Libya and Egypt.
Bashar al-Assad's father seized power in 1970 in an internal Ba'ath Party coup. Until 2010 or 2011 that situation suited the west.
If you believe the west and countries such as the U.K. and the U.S. are stepping up their involvement in Syria for humanitarian reasons I would say that you are mistaken.
Look at the broader picture to understand the civil war. It is surprising that it has taken Syrians this long to revolt. However, it is a civil war and surely the west has interfered once too often in this region already?
To William Hague and his political allies I say, no more conflicts, and certainly not in my name. The British people have neither the resources nor the will for trumped-up conflicts. It will be time enough when a real war cannot be averted.
Sources and resources
The Sunday Times
Timeline Syria and the Assads
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog