Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Crooke: "Britain & France risk being lured — by the sectarian Gulf clamour, fearful of impending 'Sunni defeat' — into finding themselves ever more allied with Sunni proxies of al-Qaida"

Alastair Crooke in the Guardian;
"... Syria is already awash with weapons. But as we discovered in Afghanistan, however much is given, it is "never enough", and if the opposition begins losing, inevitably it is the west's failure to give more and better weapons that is the cause. Only with hindsight was it plain that the Afghan mujahideen's problems began when "big money" became available from donors, the conflict became "business."Reuters, on Syria, tells us nothing has changed. It reports an incident on the Turkish-Syrian border where France's recently recalled ambassador to Syria gave "a stash of brown envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars" to "'viable' [that is, non-Al-Qaida] rebels operating in zones no longer under Bashar al-Assad's control".

A few weapons, more or less, will change nothing. Weapons will not stay with the preferred recipients: warlords will trade, as in Afghanistan. And no real shift in western policy has occurred either: the US deputy national security adviser has said there will be no escalation in the weapons supplied to the insurgents and that there will be no no-fly zones. Supplies already are at the limit of what can be safely given – and if advanced items ever were to reach al-Qaida this would be a huge 9/11 "hot button" event for the US.
Much of this is likely to be rehashed in the G8 meeting today, but Putin will denounce any escalation in arming the opposition and may threaten, as before, a counter-response. Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, is unlikely to change his country's policy on Syria either.
I am sure David Cameron finds the opposition fighters he meets to be decent human beings, and that he is moved to help them. But this war is complex: it directly cuts through an ancient and highly emotive and sectarian regional fault line – one that does not divide between "friends and foes" of democracy.
Britain and France risk being lured — by the heightened, sectarian Gulf clamour, fearful of impending 'Sunni defeat' — into finding themselves ever more closely allied with Sunni proxies of al-Qaida. And as these gain empowerment – as is happening – the west's contradictions can only become more apparent and bloodshed across the region increase."

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