The so-called secular rebels were in fact vicious Islamists in disguise.

It gives me no joy to say that I thought the West’s strategy was wrong four years ago.

I have thought this all along and posted several blogs on what appeared to me to be obvious. Why could we not learn from the disaster in Lybia and the delusion of an Arab Spring?

This latest summary by John R Bradley, a British journalist specialising in Middle Eastern affairs, would have to be the most profoundly depressing and saddening account of bad decisions and unintended consequences I have read in a long time.

At the outset of Syria’s brutal four-year civil war, I was an almost unique voice in the British media deploring the push to depose the secular dictator President Bashar al-Assad, especially in the absence of a genuinely popular uprising against him. …

Assad, I argued, would not fall, because the people of Damascus would not rise up against him. The so-called secular rebels were in fact vicious Islamists in disguise. …

Four years on, the suffering of the Syrian people — 250,000 slaughtered, half of the population internally displaced and millions more made refugees — is obvious. And last week, in the midst of Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, the extent of the West’s geopolitical miscalculations became painfully evident.

This clearly is the net result:

Assad is in fact now more popular than ever in the roughly one third of Syria he still controls … The West, though, is more hated than ever. A recent poll found that 80 per cent of Syrians believe we created the Islamic State — a common belief, incidentally, throughout the Middle East (and not entirely inaccurate). So it took Washington and its reactionary Gulf allies four years and billions of dollars to end up eating humble pie. They have now effectively admitted that Moscow was right about Syria all along. In the process, they have undermined any humanitarian credibility our military adventurism may still have had after the Iraq nightmare.

In my blog I quoted an article by Fiona Hill on ABC’s The Drum. She reported the desperate plea of a Syrian Christian woman, “What are your so-called Christian leaders in Australia thinking? Don’t they realise our freedoms in Syria are the envy of other Arab countries – and impossible in Qatar?! If Bashar (Al Assad) goes, we will be lambs to the slaughter.”

Tragically they were and the consequences are rippling out alarmingly across Europe to the Arctic circle.


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