INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

SYRIA

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
Message
Author
User avatar
jaywhat
Posts: 15807
Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:53 pm

Re: SYRIA

#41 Postby jaywhat » June 6th, 2013, 4:37 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

If Assad wins, Syria loses.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#42 Postby Dave B » June 6th, 2013, 6:04 pm

jaywhat wrote:If Assad wins, Syria loses.
I agree, except if the fundamental Islamists, Wahhabists and Salafists get control instead of Assad - that will put the country back 100 years in some respects.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: SYRIA

#43 Postby Nick » June 6th, 2013, 6:11 pm

All options look awful.

If Assad stays, repression wins; if Assad goes, anarchy follows (just look at Iraq....); arming the rebels? How can we make sure the arms won't reach the wrong hands...?

Jeremy Clarkson, for once, had a very thoughtful piece in last weekend's Sunday Times. His feeling was that we have to let them sort it for themselves....

Hmmm....

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6519
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: SYRIA

#44 Postby animist » June 7th, 2013, 6:44 pm

Nick wrote:All options look awful.

If Assad stays, repression wins; if Assad goes, anarchy follows (just look at Iraq....); arming the rebels? How can we make sure the arms won't reach the wrong hands...?

Jeremy Clarkson, for once, had a very thoughtful piece in last weekend's Sunday Times. His feeling was that we have to let them sort it for themselves....

Hmmm....
repression is better than anarchy IMO - you know where you are. But I don't really get the stuff about weapons falling into "the wrong hands" - why is that really a threat to the West? Now that Qusair has been recovered by the regime, it would only be massive foreign intervention which will defeat it; well, Obama is not going to sully his legacy with a Bushy foreign disaster, and the rest of the West would find it difficult to get rid of Assad, who is much stronger than was Gaddafi. The awful logic of what I am saying is that we should support Assad in crushing the rebellion - conditionally - and try and bribe him to behave better in future. Most terrorism directed against the West has been from the Sunni rather than the Shia, and supporting any Shia faction (which includes Assad's Alawites) might be seen as weakening the Sunni, who include the extremist Wahabis and the terrorist Al-Qaeda

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#45 Postby Dave B » June 7th, 2013, 7:30 pm

I think the kind of weapons the politicians are worried about are the medium ones, anti tank and shoulder launched anti-aicraft/anti-tank or laser guided missiles, that is really the kind of stuff that the rebels need, portable and needing minimum training to use. Assault rifles and RPGs just don't count, there are thousands of them already available. RPGs were developed as anti tank weapons, modern tanks are developed to be RPG proof, but they are still effective against lighter vehicles.

That medium-heavy stuff in the "wrong hands" would possibly find its way to Iraq and Afghanistan - if not London, Paris and New York. Captured by the Assad regime it might find its way to Lebanon.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Fia
Posts: 5480
Joined: July 6th, 2007, 8:29 pm

Re: SYRIA

#46 Postby Fia » June 7th, 2013, 8:36 pm

And whilst all this sectarian and political crap is going on the country is being systematically destroyed by both parties and the civilians suffer appallingly, particularly the women...

I say again: get them round a bloody table FFS :angry: Why is no-one trying to do this, but instead bleat on about more 'weapons' and not wanting to get involved? I know the UN tried, but they should try again and harder, with full support, to work to a compromise that both parties must be aware they need eventually.

I know, I'm an idealist. But someone has to be.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#47 Postby Dave B » June 7th, 2013, 9:07 pm

I say again: get them round a bloody table FFS :angry: Why is no-one trying to do this, but instead bleat on about more 'weapons' and not wanting to get involved?
Well, if you can believe them, the US and Russia are trying to get talks under way, Fia.

Trouble is who will speak for the rebel side? There are several groups sort of working against Assad but all with their own agendas. It was be like trying to get all the Glasgow gangs to speak as one on one side of the table with the police and council on the other. They would probably end up fighting themselves because they each want the slice of power (and pie) that will forward their dispararte causes.

This is partly why Libya is still in a shit state - the various tribal factions were united against Gaddafi but now fight amongst themselves (I don't think there is a sectarian problem there.)

In both cases there is a more "normal" group of moderate academics, politicians and even theologians who understand what is needed to put the country back together again, and would probably talk to Assad, but they are not the ones wielding the guns.

Added: though I have no liking for Assad and his soldiers having heard Lyse Doucet's (a reporter I trust) descriptions of the situation in and around Qusair I feel that there is little to choose between Assad's men and some of the rebel groups. Though there are almost certainly still some of those local people who just could not stand the situation under Assad, but who are now almost powerless to control what is going on.

Religion, in this case, is the most evil force on Earth.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#48 Postby Dave B » June 7th, 2013, 9:50 pm

Just heard that Russia is backing trying to get Assad to allow humanitarian aid into Qusair. Good thing, but they are effectively on Assad's side and Qusair is really Shiite/Alaouite (Assad's) territory . . . Will they also seek safe passage for aid for civilians to areas held or retaken by the rebel forces I wonder?

So the big powers play their games and non-combatants suffer.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

etoile
Posts: 972
Joined: April 30th, 2013, 11:02 am

Re: SYRIA

#49 Postby etoile » June 8th, 2013, 7:08 pm

Dave B wrote:
animist wrote:
jaywhat wrote: Assad has to go before there is any hope of progress towards peace.
or, Assad possibly has to win before there is hope for some sort of peace
That thought entered my mind as well.



Just catching up with this thread and feel pretty much the same although I do feel our government should butt out. I can't see how escalating an arms race by clearing the way to arm the disparate opposition factions can help? Syria, more than any of the so called 'Arab Spring' countries has had the greatest influx of foreign Islamist fighters from across Africa and elsewhere and I'm sure that any promise of money or arms will only attract more. That lack of attachment to or concern for the country of those fighting for 'a cause' surely goes some way to explain the extremes of destruction wrought by both sides.
Using the money instead to provide proper resettlement and other aid is of cause the humanitarian thing to do but also the expedient thing to do in the circumstances.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#50 Postby Dave B » June 8th, 2013, 11:19 pm

Trouble is, etoile and others, anything like peace in the way we might define it will almost certainly mean !sectarian cleansing". This has been going on for ever since the death of Muhammed just about and the divide has not closed since it seems.

Yes, if Assad wins and comes down even harder on the Sunni faction, until they are no longer a factor in the equation, things will, sort of, be more peaceful. But assuming that he will share aid, or allow it to be shared, equally between all factions is almost certainly a fantasy unless the Russians come down heavy on him as well. He will also have to clear out every single non-Shiite fundamentalist and insurgent, and a lot of innocents will be casualties in that process.

I am not sure if there is a real "win-win" situation here for either side.

I have said it before, the mindset in operation here is barely understandable to that of most Europeans and only academic to the rest. I have talked to Sunnis who would not accept that Medieval Islamic science has any value whatsoever because it was "Shiite science". They got quite angry when I tried to say that science had value of itself, that its origin was irrelevant. (I did not push it that Islamic science owed its very existence to what they learned from the Greeks, Romans and Indians anyway - an argument too far!)
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

etoile
Posts: 972
Joined: April 30th, 2013, 11:02 am

Re: SYRIA

#51 Postby etoile » June 9th, 2013, 12:11 am

Dave B wrote:I have said it before, the mindset in operation here is barely understandable to that of most Europeans and only academic to the rest. I have talked to Sunnis who would not accept that Medieval Islamic science has any value whatsoever because it was "Shiite science". They got quite angry when I tried to say that science had value of itself, that its origin was irrelevant. (I did not push it that Islamic science owed its very existence to what they learned from the Greeks, Romans and Indians anyway - an argument too far!)


The ugly truth! Well put. The only thing I can know for sure is my total lack of real understanding of such a complex situation. Just wished our politicians would admit as much. I know it sounds crass to say 'leave them too it' but I truly don't think there's a Western statesman out there who could broker any kind of peace in the area and any involvement always looks like self serving meddling.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#52 Postby Dave B » June 9th, 2013, 10:33 am

I truly don't think there's a Western statesman out there who could broker any kind of peace in the area
I also think that is so, etoile.

I there could possibly be a Muslim cleric or academic that most sides would accept, but whether or not he would take the job on is another matter.

The Buddhists are possibly in disfavour because of their actions against Muslims in Burma and other places in recent years. All Christians might be viewed with suspicion as well, so that lets most African leaders off the hook . . .

Apart from that the fundamentalists have a very strong agenda of their own that includes a Caliphate, it is in their interest to keep disruption going for a lot longer, for Assad's men and the genuine Syrian rebels to kill one another off. For the country to be reduced to the nice low level of human rights, literacy and technology that they like so much.

Don't hold your breath for miracles.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

etoile
Posts: 972
Joined: April 30th, 2013, 11:02 am

Re: SYRIA

#53 Postby etoile » June 9th, 2013, 11:52 am

I agree.
There was a segment on 'The Big Question' about the Syrian crisis this morning (will be available on iplayer) that I have to say I found disheartening. Didn't catch it from the beginning so I don't know who the contributors are but I found my opinion unchanged.
A group were arguing different reason why we should arm the rebels. Some argue that our inaction was creating a vacuum into which fundamentalists were drawn but surely they flocked there anyway. More worryingly one expressed the view that to overthrow Assad they didn't care what the nature of the support was; basically fundamentalists welcome. They even expressed the view ( I found astounding) that it was no problem to separate out the FSA and Al-Qaeda. I could go on but in general those pro arming the rebels seemed to me to express the view that the mess now was 'our' fault and we'd made Syria a special case for non-intervention. I thought it spoke volumes that those same people dismissed any possible benefits arising from peace-keeping or forthcoming Geneva talks or even more targeted aid for the refugees. More tellingly there wasn't a real answer to the question why 'WE would need to get involved in the fight.
I'm afraid those expressing a pro arming stance did nothing to calm my concerns about the nature of what is going on.

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6519
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: SYRIA

#54 Postby animist » June 9th, 2013, 2:28 pm

Dave B wrote:I think the kind of weapons the politicians are worried about are the medium ones, anti tank and shoulder launched anti-aicraft/anti-tank or laser guided missiles, that is really the kind of stuff that the rebels need, portable and needing minimum training to use. Assault rifles and RPGs just don't count, there are thousands of them already available. RPGs were developed as anti tank weapons, modern tanks are developed to be RPG proof, but they are still effective against lighter vehicles.

That medium-heavy stuff in the "wrong hands" would possibly find its way to Iraq and Afghanistan - if not London, Paris and New York. Captured by the Assad regime it might find its way to Lebanon.

but the West has left Iraq and is about to leave Afghanistan, so I still don't really see the significance of even the more sophisticated weapons - to threaten London or NY the jihadists would need long-range delivery systems for WMD presumably. Syria is already in Lebanon (it actually occupied it for years), so that is another irrelevance

One other aspect is that, while the West agonises over whether Assad has already used chemical weapons, he has threatened to use them openly if attacked by foreign countries, which creates rather a frying pan-fire dilemma

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#55 Postby Dave B » June 9th, 2013, 6:34 pm

but the West has left Iraq and is about to leave Afghanistan, so I still don't really see the significance of even the more sophisticated weapons - to threaten London or NY the jihadists would need long-range delivery systems for WMD presumably. Syria is already in Lebanon (it actually occupied it for years), so that is another irrelevance

One other aspect is that, while the West agonises over whether Assad has already used chemical weapons, he has threatened to use them openly if attacked by foreign countries, which creates rather a frying pan-fire dilemma
I could say that the West leaving Iraq and Afghanistan are the irrelevances. Neither of those countries presently harbour Al Q or their affiliates in large numbers, the Taliban are a different matter and not (presently) an international threat themselves.

I was noy implying that the "jihadists", of any colour, would threaten Western cities directly from anywhere in the Near or Middle East, but it would not be impossible for them to import, say, a shoulder launched SAM or any other person-portable weapon into Europe of the States. Even if they did not such weapons would give them an extra edge, they do not currently posses, in that region and making a peaceful future less likely than it is now.

Forcing us into even deeper defensive measures would actually help their aims. We are worried about the NSA and GCHQ monitoring too much of one-another's private on-line traffic. I think that is nothing in terms of how bad that situation might become if the fundamentalists get an upper hand in Syria.

Any "edge" those fundamentalists can get will, eventually, affect a larger area, directly or indirectly. To hand over the tools, totally unsupervised, would be rather silly from the West's POV and I doubt that some other countries in the region, from Saudi Arabia to Israel, would be happy. Saudi Arabia and Dubai could have supplied those weapons to their sectarian brothers in Syria at the very beginning; now, I wonder, why not? If the West was not the target those countries might be - then you may see another rise in the amount of carnage as they retaliated.

In some ways we are lucky that the various groups are not yet fully integrated - but that is partly due to the same mindset that stops Afghanistan (with its traditional local warlords) from being a fully integrated country and why the sects cannot unite for the Greater Glory of Islam. If they did and turned on the West things would be a lot worse for everyone, them and us.

Animist, I am no expert (and I may be a little paranoid!) but I have talked to Muslims and tried to work out how they think. I do listen to a lot of the news on BBC World Service and read some of the on-line stuff. I do not formally attempt to analyse it but rely on those inherent analytical faculties I have and which, over the years, have seemed to be fairly reliable - I have equalled the pundits in predictions at times. My concerns may be merely "worst case scenarios", I hope so, will be happy if I am totally wrong. But I will repeat that we cannot truly think like those people without living their lives - lives that are very alien to us. We can only judge what they might do by what they have done so far. Giving them new medium weight weapons would, as the current popular cliché has it, be a "game changer."
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
animist
Posts: 6519
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: SYRIA

#56 Postby animist » June 10th, 2013, 7:39 am

Dave B wrote:I could say that the West leaving Iraq and Afghanistan are the irrelevances. Neither of those countries presently harbour Al Q or their affiliates in large numbers, the Taliban are a different matter and not (presently) an international threat themselves.
the Taliban will be a threat if they return to power, and Al-Qaeda or similar Sunni jihadists are very active in parts of Iraq like Anbar: http://www.euronews.com/2013/06/03/al-q ... s-in-iraq/ http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013 ... mam-moussa
Dave B wrote:I was not implying that the "jihadists", of any colour, would threaten Western cities directly from anywhere in the Near or Middle East, but it would not be impossible for them to import, say, a shoulder launched SAM or any other person-portable weapon into Europe of the States. Even if they did not such weapons would give them an extra edge, they do not currently posses, in that region and making a peaceful future less likely than it is now.
you may be right, and the rebels already have some of these weapons:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/ ... T920120731

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#57 Postby Dave B » June 10th, 2013, 9:39 am

animist wrote:the Taliban will be a threat if they return to power, and Al-Qaeda or similar Sunni jihadists are very active in parts of Iraq like Anbar: http://www.euronews.com/2013/06/03/al-q ... s-in-iraq/ http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013 ... mam-moussa
That's why I was careful to say that they were not an international threat in themselves - certainly as "hosts" to Al Q they could present a real problem.

This is where the "asymmetric war" dimension comes into it, it used to mean that we had all the big stuff and could blow the enemy off the face of the Earth. But now the West have to conform to certain international rules that the fundamentalists do not. We cannot retaliate by effectively declaring all-out war on or totally isolate by armed means a Taliban controlled Afghanistan that was acting as host to our actual enemies. They, of course, can do whatever they want and totally ignore international laws and opinion. That gives them an advantage we can only counter by internment, immigration and import restrictions that would do other kinds of damage to our own standing and trade. The present furore over Internet snooping would possibly seem insignificant in comparison.

As Obama said, do you want privacy or security, you can't have both. What is your happy ration of these?

animist wrote:you may be right, and the rebels already have some of these weapons:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/ ... T920120731
Oh, dear. So long as these remain in the hands of the FSA it is not so bed, though I fear that the use of them will cause Assad to be even more violent than he is now. If they get into the hands of the fundamentalists . . .
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

etoile
Posts: 972
Joined: April 30th, 2013, 11:02 am

Re: SYRIA

#58 Postby etoile » June 10th, 2013, 1:38 pm

In case anyone is interested 'The Wright Stuff', the channel 5 topical debate show will be discussing Syria and the issues around arming the rebels on Tuesdays show, that's 9.15-11.15.

User avatar
Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: SYRIA

#59 Postby Nick » June 10th, 2013, 2:00 pm

Fia wrote:And whilst all this sectarian and political crap is going on the country is being systematically destroyed by both parties and the civilians suffer appallingly, particularly the women...

I say again: get them round a bloody table FFS :angry: Why is no-one trying to do this, but instead bleat on about more 'weapons' and not wanting to get involved? I know the UN tried, but they should try again and harder, with full support, to work to a compromise that both parties must be aware they need eventually.

I know, I'm an idealist. But someone has to be.

The problem is, that both sides are, pretty much literally, fighting to the death. If they stop fighting, they will die, so they might as well die fighting. And they don't trust any negotiated outcome. Which, in any case, they feel will not be needed, as they both still think they can win. I don't think each side does, in fact, yet, think that a compromise will be needed eventually. And to a certain extent they are right. Assad is either in charge, or he is not. That's quite a binary situation. And that's before we consider a collapsed anarchic state, bang in the middle of economic and religious ferment.

I'm not saying this to criticise your sentiments, just to comment on the situation. And I think you realise most of what I've said, hence your "idealist" comment.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#60 Postby Dave B » June 10th, 2013, 2:04 pm

I agree with your thoughts on the way things are, Nick.

Also, whatever desires we have for a humane outcome it is the actual situation that we must consider and try to understand.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: SYRIA

#61 Postby Dave B » August 22nd, 2013, 10:26 am

I am totally not understanding what is happening in Syria re the alleged gas attacks and the UN investigation team.

I cannot work out how either side can really benefit from this.

1. If it was the rebels faking the attack then, if the UN team checked it, they would be found out quite quickly.
2. If the rebels had stolen some gas and actually killed these people it seems to be a draconian tactic, if the UN team where allowed full forensic freedom of action then this would almost certainly be worked out.
3. If, as the government suggest, the rebels did stage the attack then it would be in their interest to have the UN team find this out - yet they seem to be blocking that move.
4. If the government staged the attack it seems, at first sight, incredibly stupid with the team nearby - but the government does have the ability to stop the UN investigating the attack.

So, as ever in this part of the world, a very confusing situation. With Russia and China on the side of the Syrian regime and Hague making rather inflammatory/accusatory sound bites one wonders if we will ever know until this is all history (if then).

Whoever wins the west will have lost any chance of allying themselves to the victor and, if the rebels win, Russia and China will not be in favour either. That leaves Syria either in the Russia/China camp or, potentially, as an Islamic state, against the whole non-Islamic world, because the Sunni militants (native and insurgent) will probably take charge. That will also set them at odds with Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and (still mostly secular) Turkey. Saudi Arabia will not be pleased because, although Sunni themselves, Al Q (who will have an influence) is totally against the SA royal family. The same could be said for the Gulf States who are all western facing for their oil fortunes.

Syria, whatever happens, whoever wins, does not seem to have much chance for a good future.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015


Return to “Miscellaneous Discussions...”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests