The United States, United Kingdom and indeed The West in general have a dire track record in the Middle East, particularly when it comes to intervention. But Syria is not Iraq, nor is it Afghanistan and I wish that our governments will not allow the risk of hostile PR to stop them from intervening and doing as our morality compels us. To act so late is regrettable, but not to act at all is indefensible.
For the past few years, a massacre has been allowed to take place. The Syrian regime has murdered and displaced hundreds of thousands of innocent people and my nation has shamefully stood back and watched. We are so paralyzed by the fear of failure, and hard lessons learnt in Iraq and Afghanistan that we believe if we do nothing then we can do no wrong. A fallacy. A sickening policy of isolationism which allows innocent Syrians, many of whom share our values, to be slaughtered like animals. How can we justify our position on the UN security council or indeed as a free and progressive nation if we do not defend the innocent against such malice?
There are those who will make the excuse that we will be supporting terrorists and Al-Qaeda, a lazy and ill-conceived assumption. No one denies that there are distasteful elements fighting the regime but to suggest that the opposition, in it’s entirety, is made up of these zealots is wrong. There are many groups fighting for a democratic and secular Syria and we have no reason to believe that they are cooperating with Islamist militants, in fact, several top FSA commanders have publicly come out against groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra. These groups exist both alone and as part of the Syrian National Council but they don’t get the attention or publicity they deserve. The tragic irony of the situation, for those that subscribe to this idea, is that the longer the international community does nothing and allows the situation to deteriorate the only groups gaining strength are the Assad regime and the Al-Qaeda backed groups. In some parts of the country, for example Idlib and Aleppo, an absence of governmental control has allowed very organised and opportunistic Al-Qaeda groups to step in. They provide medicine, food and weapons, all of which are required in the absence of western assistance. The longer the status quo continues the more opportunities like this spring up for Al-Qaeda, and the more the UK and other western nations should be concerned.
The “red line” was never necessary, what sort of message does it send out if we only feel compelled to act after chemical weapons are used? Regimes are free to massacre their own citizens provided that they only use conventional weapons? Britain must lead the international community decisively, not to spread democracy or police the world, not to combat Iran but to stop a massacre, prevent the implosion of a beautiful nation and to bring a halt to the ethnic cleansing taking place against the Kurds. We must fight the evil wherever it may be, within the regime or opposition groups.