Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Syrian Democratic Forces kept their title unquestioned until the Turks invaded Syria, when they were suddenly transformed into ‘Kurdish forces’ who had been betrayed by the Americans. Which, of course, they always were
That wars end very differently to our own expectations – or our plans – was established long ago. That “we” won the Second World War did not mean the Americans would win the Vietnam war, or that France would vanquish its enemies in Algeria. Yet the moment we decide who the good guys are, and who the evil monsters whom we must destroy, we relapse again into our old mistakes.
Because we hate, loathe and demonise Saddam or Gaddafi or Assad, we are sure – we are absolutely convinced – that they will be dethroned and that the blue skies of freedom will shine down upon their broken lands. This is childish, immature, infantile (although, given the trash we are prepared to consume over Brexit, it’s not, I suppose, very surprising).
Well, Saddam’s demise brought upon Iraq the most unimaginable suffering. So too Gaddafi’s assassination beside the most famous sewer in Libya. As for Bashar al-Assad, far from being overthrown, he has emerged as the biggest winner of the Syrian war. Still we insist that he must go. Still we intend to try Syrian war criminals – and rightly so – but the Syrian regime has emerged above the blood-tide of war intact, alive, and with the most reliable superpower ally any Middle East state could have: the Kremlin.
I despise the word “curate”. Everyone seems to be curating scenarios, curating political conversations or curating business portfolios. We seem to be addicted to these awful curio words. But for once I’m going to use it in real form: those who curated the story – the narrative – of the Syrian war, got it all wrong from the start.
Bashar would go. The Free Syrian Army, supposedly made up of tens of thousands of Syrian army deserters and the unarmed demonstrators of Darayya, Damascus and Homs, would force the Assad family from power. And, of course, western-style democracy would break out, and secularism – which was in fact supposed to be the foundation of the Baath party – would become the basis of a new and liberal Arab state. We shall leave aside for now one of the real reasons for the west’s support of the rebellion: to destroy Iran’s only Arab ally.
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