Daily Archives: February 6, 2012


Know Your Limits: Syria

An important rule of good blogging is not to comment on matters which you do not understand. An important rule of my own life is not to try to understand everything, as no one man can. I have never tried to master the intricacies of Syrian internal politics, (or Lebanese for that matter). Assad senior perpetrated atrocities on a grand scale without ever getting much attention from the West. Hopes that Assad junior would make things much better seemed to come to nothing. If the revolutionary tide swept away the Assad crew, I should be pleased.

I do not know in depth why Homs is a hotbed of opposition, and what the tribal divisions are. I do know that Saudi Arabia – the apostle state of repression – is funding and arming the Free Syrian Army, which is anything but a good sign. I am very interested that the BBC reports bombings in Damascus as false flag bombings by the Assad regime, when I found that to note false flag bombings by UK/US ally Karimov in Tashkent was treated as crazed conspiracy theory.

But what I understand most is the diplomacy. On Libya, NATO took a UN Security Council Resolution authorising a no fly zone, and twisted it as cover to wage all out aerial warfare on one side in a civil war. Long after pro-Gadaffi sources lost any serious offensive capability, NATO were carpet-bombing Sirte, killing many times more people than Assad has killed in Homs to date.

If given an inch you take 500 miles, you should not be surprised when in future nobody will give you half an inch. That is the context of Russian and Chinese veto of any UNSCR authorising action against Syria. The total disregard for the spirit and precise wording of the resolutions on Libya to which Russia and China agreed, has stymied the chances of future united security council action, perhaps for many years. I actually predicted this, blogging on 5 October 2011

“Having absolutely abused UNSCR 1973, plainly NATO was seriously damaging the ability of the Security Council to work together in future, and making quite certain that China and Russia would not for many years agree to any SC Resolutions which might be open to similar abuse.”

All the sham indignation about a consequence the US, UK and France so directly brought upon themselves, and which was so obviously predictable, is pathetic.

It is fascinating the way this has been presented in the media, with graphics on all the major news channels showing the national flags of the thirteen countries who voted for the resolution, compared to the two against. There is some interest here – Azerbaijan is certainly a surprise and will be causing real heartache in the Kremlin. But the language from Clinton on the irresponsible use of the veto and on need for action outwith the United Nations, is completely out of order.

The United States has stymied UN action against Israeli aggression on numerous occasions, very often vetoing alone. I do not recall the BBC ever showing a graphic of all the national flags on one side versus just the stars and stripes on the other. Funny that. The threat of a veto is usually enough to stop a motion being tabled, but I am fairly confident in saying that the USA has exercised its veto to protect Israel on over thirty occasions. That US prevention of international action includes over Operation Cast Lead, not so long ago, where again the Israelis were killing far more civilians than are dying in the current – still deplorable – assault on Homs.

The drive for another war in the Middle East, from the same old suspects who profit from such wars, is relentless and pretty well any war of opportunity will do. What is happening in Syria is sad in its violence, and also hopeful insofar as some of it is motivated by a genuine spark of freedom. Those who purport to believe that internal conflict anywhere is best resolved by us bombing the hell out of a country and/or invading it, are a combination of cranks and cynical profiteers.

What worries me most is not the turmoil in Syria; it is the vultures circling over it.

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Continued Prevarication over Gould-Werritty

It is now four days and three postal deliveries since the FCO emailed me saying that they were sending me the Gould/Werritty diary entries by post, together with a covering letter – and something else of which the very existence is explosive news. But still, this has not actually arrived.

I know that there has been a massive argument going on in the FCO about what I am legally entitled to receive under the Freedom of Information Act, and just how much they are revealing by adding the additional bits of information. I cannot believe that they are going, even now, to resile from the commitment they made to me to send the documents, and I can only imagine there is continuing haggling over what can be redacted.

I have not succeeded yet, but I must say I am happily surprised that there is still enough of the rule of law left in this country for those within the FCO to prevail who were arguing that the FCO had to comply with its legal obligation and release the material. There were those who wanted the material simply to be quietly destroyed. I know names, and those will also follow later. I suspect this new, after the last minute, extra delay means there will be extra redaction in the material.

No wonder the arch-liar Gus O’Donnel as he left his job was arguing for the castration of the Freedom of Information Act. He has a great deal to hide.

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