Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Guardian: "Military sources in Whitehall have been expressing deep unease about Cameron's plans for Syria"

[Guardian] "...To say there is a rift is probably putting it too strongly. But is Downing Street on the same page as the military when they talk about Syria? No, it isn't.The fact that General Sir David Richards, chief of defence staff, has been drawing up contingency plans to provide Syrian rebels with maritime and possible air support should not be seen as an appetite within the Ministry of Defence to get involved.
The military might well do; it might have to. But it doesn't want to, at all, and for months, military sources in Whitehall have been expressing deep unease about the situation to anyone who will listen.
Their concern is that David Cameron isn't one of them. Buoyed by the success of the very limited campaign in Libya ...
Other options are all speculative, such as safe corridors to refugee camps in Turkey, or in the north of Syria, and logistical help for the rebels.......  Interestingly, Richards's presentation apparently did not include any reference to Nato, or to how it would co-ordinate a military response. Though nobody will talk about this in public, it seems the meeting did not completely douse Cameron's desire for the UK to take a lead, which is why Richards has been beavering away on a range of other contingency plans. Richards is understood to have chaired a meeting with senior military figures from France, the US, Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf states of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which, with Saudi Arabia, has been in the vanguard of those supporting the Syrian rebels. In his public utterances, Richards has remained open minded, as he must, ...Ultimately, any decision to act over Syria will be a political one, not his, and he does not want to back himself into a corner.... But nothing has changed the military's reluctance to get involved in the Syrian crisis. Officers insist there must be clear and united political will over what to do before troops are committed – and they want a robust and well thought-out exit strategy. Neither exists at the moment..."

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