Syria and Diplomacy 2917

The problem with the Geneva Communique from the first Geneva round on Syria is that the government of Syria never subscribed to it.  It was jointly chaired by the League of Arab States for Syria, whatever that may mean.  Another problem is that it is, as so many diplomatic documents are, highly ambiguous.  It plainly advocates a power sharing executive formed by some of the current government plus the opposition to oversee a transition to democracy.  But it does not state which elements of the current government, and it does not mention which elements of the opposition, nor does it make plain if President Assad himself is eligible to be part of, or to head, the power-sharing executive, and whether he is eligible to be a candidate in future democratic elections.

Doubtless the British, for example, would argue that the term transition implies that he will go.  The Russians will argue there is no such implication and the text does not exclude anybody from the process.  Doubtless also diplomats on all sides were fully aware of these differing interpretations and the ambiguity is quite deliberate to enable an agreed text. I would say that the text tends much more to the “western” side, and that this reflects the apparently weak military position of the Assad regime at that time and the then extant threat of western military intervention.  There has been a radical shift in those factors against the western side in the interim. Expect Russian interpretations now to get more hardline.

Given the extreme ambiguity of the text, Iran has, as it frequently does, shot itself in the foot diplomatically by refusing to accept the communique as the basis of talks and thus getting excluded from Geneva.  Iran should have accepted the communique, and then at Geneva issued its own interpretation of it.

But that is a minor point.  The farcical thing about the Geneva conference is that it is attempting to promote into power-sharing in Syria “opposition” members who have no democratic credentials and represent a scarcely significant portion of those actually fighting the Assad regime in Syria.  What the West are trying to achieve is what the CIA and Mossad have now achieved in Egypt; replacing the head of the Mubarak regime while keeping all its power structures in place. The West don’t really want democracy in Syria, they just want a less pro-Russian leader of the power structures.

The inability of the British left to understand the Middle East is pathetic.  I recall arguing with commenters on this blog who supported the overthrow of the elected President of Egypt Morsi on the grounds that his overthrow was supporting secularism, judicial independence (missing the entirely obvious fact the Egyptian judiciary are almost all puppets of the military) and would lead to a left wing revolutionary outcome.  Similarly the demonstrations against Erdogan in Istanbul, orchestrated by very similar pro-military forces to those now in charge in Egypt, were also hailed by commenters here.  The word “secularist” seems to obviate all sins when it comes to the Middle East.

Qatar will be present at Geneva, and Qatar has just launched a pre-emptive media offensive by launching a dossier on torture and murder of detainees by the Assad regime, which is being given first headline treatment by the BBC all morning

There would be a good dossier to be issued on torture in detention in Qatar, and the lives of slave workers there, but that is another question.

I do not doubt at all that atrocities have been committed and are being committed by the Assad regime.  It is a very unpleasant regime indeed.  The fact that atrocities are also being committed by various rebel groups does not make Syrian government atrocities any better.

But whether 11,000 people really were murdered in a single detainee camp I am unsure.  What I do know is that the BBC presentation of today’s report has been a disgrace.  The report was commissioned by the government of Qatar who commissioned Carter Ruck to do it.  Both those organisations are infamous suppressors of free speech.  What is reprehensible is that the BBC are presenting the report as though it were produced by neutral experts, whereas the opposite is the case.  It is produced not by anti torture campaigners or by human rights activists, but by lawyers who are doing it purely and simply because they are being paid to do it.

The BBC are showing enormous deference to Sir Desmond De Silva, who is introduced as a former UN war crimes prosecutor.  He is indeed that, but it is not the capacity in which he is now acting.  He is acting as a barrister in private practice.  Before he was a UN prosecutor, he was for decades a criminal defence lawyer and has defended many murderers.  He has since acted to suppress the truth being published about many celebrities, including John Terry.

If the Assad regime and not the government of Qatar had instructed him and paid him, he would now be on our screens arguing the opposite case to that he is putting.  That is his job.  He probably regards that as not reprehensible.  What is reprehensible is that the BBC do not make it plain, but introduce him as a UN war crimes prosecutor as though he were acting in that capacity or out of concern for human rights.  I can find no evidence of his having an especial love for human rights in the abstract, when he is not being paid for it.  He produced an official UK government report into the murder of Pat Finucane, a murder organised by British authorities, which Pat Finucane’s widow described as a “sham”.  He was also put in charge of quietly sweeping the Israeli murders on the Gaza flotilla under the carpet at the UN.

The question any decent journalist should be asking him is “Sir Desmond De Silva, how much did the government of Qatar pay you for your part in preparing this report?  How much did it pay the other experts?  Does your fee from the Government of Qatar include this TV interview, or are you charging separately for your time in giving this interview?  In short how much are you being paid to say this?”

That is what any decent journalist would ask.  Which is why you will never hear those questions on the BBC.




2,917 thoughts on “Syria and Diplomacy

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  • mark golding

    Thank-you Craig for your kind reply. I am of course referring to those ‘grass root’ activists who embrace Atatürk’s reforms and who have been savagely put down by Erdogan’s thugs.

    I was searching for a Skype recording I listened to from an enchanting Turkish women who lives in Istanbul near Taksim Gezi Park. It reveals the corrupt and dominant nature of the present Turkish regime and the anguish of a mother who’s son and daughters are involved in the freedom protest.

  • Ben

    Thanks for the memory, Mark. I actually saw them at University of Calif at Irvine in May of ’69. I say ‘saw’ but the local underground FM station oversold and had to accept piped music outside the amphitheater. Didn’t diminish the experience one iota.

  • UzbStan

    Uzbek in the uk,
    Why don’t you just leave your comments using the nickname simply Uzbek? Do you understand you are compromising the security of many uzbeks who live here in the uk and visit their relatives back in uzbekistan? You know that the uzbek security henchmen watch this blog, don’t you? I had two relatives questioned recently about comments by you, asking them if they were you. Why don’t you leave your moronic comments with full grammar mistakes using just the nickname of Uzbek? Do you have to specify that you are in the uk? Or is it for show off to prove your asylum claim with the Home Office? Козел ты, не больше, не меньше того. Урод ты чокнутый, страдают простые люди из-за твоих ебанутых комментов. Подлец.

  • craig Post author


    Presumably you have the sense to realise that there is something very wrong with a government whose security services interrogate the family members of random people like you, just in case you are somebody who makes some very thoughtful political comments on a blog? The fact that you turn your anger on “Uzbek in the UK” rather than the Karimov regime, is a prime example of what stops the Uzbek people from becoming free – the snivelling cowardice of wretches like you.

  • John Goss

    “Козел ты, не больше, не меньше того. Урод ты чокнутый, страдают простые люди из-за твоих ебанутых комментов. Подлец.”

    “You bastard, nothing more nor less than that. You crazy freak, they make simple people suffer because of your crazy comments. Scoundrel.”

    That’s a loose kind of translation.

    I do not share all of Uzbek in the UK’s comments. But your argument Uzbstan is unworthy. I would have thought the fact that he/she is living in the UK and puts it in his pseudonym would eliminate the interrogation of anyone still living in Uzbekistan. If it does not it is a clear indication that Craig Murray’s comment is correct and you should be directing your angst at Karimov and his nasty regime.

  • Mary

    Lyse Doucet – one of the state broadcaster’s finest – hyping up Montreux.

    She even gives a nod to the now discredited McChrystal on Afghanistan.

    She can be heard on a World Service trailer talking about stories and how they tell them themselves. How true.

  • John Goss

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella! 21 Jan, 2014 – 5:42 pm

    In another of his discursive comments Habbabkuk asks us to join him in celebrating an IMF prediction that UK economic growth is improving.

    “Splendid news courtesy of the IMF, whose latest forecast had upped UK growth from 1,9% to 2,4%.

    I’m certain that all here who wish the UK well will share my pleasure at this news!”

    I would be happy to join him in his celebrations if I knew what his understanding of economic growth is and how it would benefit the majority of us if it turned out to be true. He seems difficult to pin down on this and does not answer my requests for his understanding of economic growth. If it was the growth in social housing I would be celebrating with him. Likewise the growth in the number of doctors, nurses, teachers. I am eager to share his joy. I have asked him if this economic growth is GDP but he does not seem to know.

  • Mary

    If anyone is interested in a war criminal’s opinion on Syria, Ms Amanpour provides the opportunity here. She is a well known stooge for the warmongers.

    Lower down the page there is another video of him grinning like an idiot when asked about the attempted citizen’s arrest. A true psychopath.

    Blair not bothered by citizen’s arrest

  • Someone

    “Much as I want to ‘Someone’ I cannot bring myself to listen.”

    mark golding

    Read it!.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Meanwhile, Uzbek regime of bloody old dog karimov is getting more and more paranoid. Uzbek government has not introduced criminal liability for concealing terrorism info or training of the terrorists. Considering imperfectness of uzbek law enforcement agencies and that “this law also provides for exempting from responsibility those who voluntarily report authorities about such a training; actively help to solve a criminal case, identify others who underwent such a training and those who organize and/or finance training; help identify training location and if their actions contain no other crimes” this can be translated as opening pandora’s box of Stalin’s type ‘donos’ tip-offs or ‘anonimka’ anonymous tip-off.

  • mike

    More on the Ghouta false flag:

    I wonder what Saudi/Mossad have up their sleeves for when the cameras roll in Sochi?

    When the latest dazzling spectacle goes down, “we” can then condemn Islamic terrorism abroad — and steal more freedoms at home, for security reasons — while supporting the same in Syria. It’s nothing an expert in doublethink can’t handle, and there’re plenty of those around.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Small correction. My last comment should read as “Uzbek government has now introduced criminal liability…”

  • John Goss

    Thanks for your comment and link Mike. Christof Lehmann is a good researcher and journalist. I have read many of his articles and this one is no exception. To know that the US and Saudis were behind the chemical attack is one thing that most of us surmised. Proving it was another thing and Christof Lehmann has done a very good job.

  • Beelzebub (La Vita è Finita)

    Growth of what?
    1. House prices.
    2. Food prices.
    3. Rentals
    4. Food banks
    5. The differential between deposit and loan interest rates.
    6. Useless management.
    7. Ditto ditto’s salaries.
    8. Utility prices – and profits


  • David Macilwain

    Very welcome perspective Craig, and specially views on the ‘killing on an industrial scale’ – which incidentally was aired breathlessly on the Australian BC yesterday morning, with Crane interviewed.
    I’m afraid though that I can’t agree on ‘the regime’s brutality’ for two reasons. First it isn’t nor ever was ‘killing its own people’ – for peaceful protests’. It is simply doing what states and armies do, and the people expect them to do, in fighting a foreign backed and engineered insurgency. It is inevitable that prisoners will be taken, and may not be treated well in this context – remember at least 27,000 Syrian soldiers have been killed by armed groups. Second is that regardless of what happened initially, the Syrian arab army now has the overwhelming support of Syrians, and so does their president. If you read the rest of the AFP interview posted above by Mary, you will understand quite a lot about what is now going on, as well as getting a feeling for the general sense and sanity of Assad.
    As far as the ‘report’ goes, I note not only the date of the last interview with ‘Caesar’ – the 18th of January, but also that in fact only 150 ‘cases’ were studied for the statistics provided, with the other 11,000 odd supposedly on a disc or computer somewhere. Also we only see a dozen photos, none of whom are identified in person, time or location. Babies in Incubators….
    I agree also that Iran should have gone to the talks – should have insisted that it attend, and Russia should have demanded that it be allowed to. We’ve had enough of this corrupt little club of ‘Friends of Syria’ setting the agenda it wants.

  • guano

    The reason that Erdogan keeps winning elections is that the evil, gay, Zionist Attaturk, whose blown-up, stale image beams down on infants in Turkish schools, tried to extinguish Islam in Turkey and Erdogan has put it back again.

    The Taksim riots were about corruption in the construction industry. The large cost of construction attracts the banking/political classes who fail to realise that the money is for building materials and skilled labour, not just going spare for them to embezzle. We ought to be having them here.

    If Alawi protestors were hurt or killed in the protests, I would suggest that’s because they were venting their anger about Turkey’s attitude to Syria under the umbrella of anti-corruption protests. The Alawis are not any part of Islam – even Shi’a.

    The Turks love Islam, and its society now glows with Islamic faith in spite of the worst endeavours of Anglo-Saxon subterfuge and destruction of the Ottoman Empire. The UK policy towards the Middle East is to repeat the first and second world wars destructivity on others while they themselves sit back in their armchairs.

    Nice work if you can get it, WHague squeezing out crocodile tears about Syria.

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