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What Should the West do for Syria?
Last uploaded : Monday 20th Feb 2012 at 14:46
Contributed by : Carol Gould



Every day in the past month I have watched Syrians begging the west to help them in their near-civil-war scale national conflagration. Men and women brave enough to look into a camera lens and beg ‘If you do not help us, we will be killed’ are in obvious distress. Although the figures are impossible to verify some 200 men, women and children are reported to be perishing every day. It is a complex situation; as was pointed out on BBC ‘Question Time’ on Thursday 9 February the danger is that Hezbollah and a puppet government of the Ayatollahs are likely to overthrow President Assad and life will be hell for Jews, Christians and Druse in the country. Israel is already offering asylum to some Syrian refugees.

Notwithstanding the possibility that Assad is right in asserting that ‘terrorists’ are perpetrating the revolution the scenes of doctors crying into the camera asking ‘where is the humanity?’ as the west stands idly by are painful to watch. The United Nations Security Council vote that resulted in China and Russia refusing to condemn the Assad regime is thought by some to have been a ‘licence to kill.’ As I write this article I am listening to live BBC television interviewing a Syrian anti-government representative, Abo Emad, asking, as he weeps, ‘Where is the west? The army is shooting indiscriminately. People are dying around me.’ One man interviewed last night said the regime was accusing him of being with ‘Mossad and al Qaeda.’ If one can see humour in this barbaric situation -- well, need I say more?…

It is therefore all the more puzzling that Nabila Ramdani, a Libyan author, made it clear on BBC ‘Newsnight’ that it was an outrage for the west to have intervened in Libya. I vividly recall images identical to those now coming out of Syria of men and women begging the west to intervene and help overthrow Colonel Gaddafy. She asserted on the programme that the ‘illegal interventions’ by the west were ‘breaches of fundamental United Nations resolutions.’ This is a mantra I have heard over and over again when I have debated Iraqis and Afghans, who consider the intervention by the west in removing, respectively, Saddam Hussein and (unsuccessfully) the Taliban an outrage. As an American I am personally accused of murdering a million of their Muslim brothers and sisters. The fury of the many Iraqis, Iranians, Egyptians and Afghans I encounter in my regular debates is palpable. They are angry about coalition interventions in the Muslim world and feel these actions have ‘destroyed’ their countries.

Nabila Ramdani’s anger was barely containable on ‘Newsnight.’ She feels western intervention was a disgraceful incursion in an internal Libyan affair. There was a discussion amongst Ramdani, conservative Rory Stewart MP and host Jeremy Paxman about the presence of British forces on the ground in Libya. Horror of horrors! Unless I misunderstood Paxman’s irritability it seems it was being suggested that had the British people known there were boots on the ground there would have been outrage on all sides. What nonsense ! Thank goodness the Ministry of Defence kept it a secret and that our boys got out in once piece. They also happened to help in the liberation of the Libyan people from a despised despot. Ramdani made it clear that western intervention, whether by sea, ground or air was a gross violation of Libyan sovereignty and rights. And yes, I can hear readers exclaiming ,’ But Carol, it was OIL they wanted to protect!’ and yes, I acknowledge that. Nevertheless Ramdani’s outrage made me wonder what the Arab Spring wants from the saviours in the west they are crying to for help.

If the west intervenes in Syria, which I feel it should, will British, American and other foreign countries’ taxpayers be told ‘You ruined our country?’ Germany and Japan became the industrial giants of the post war world when the west moved in and transformed them from murderous dictatorships to model democracies. This required the cooperation of the citizens who had survived the war and it did elicit gratitude over the intervening decades.

If the west helps Syria I hope for once there will be gratitude on the part of its citizens and that they will endeavour to build a society that is enlightened, peaceful and democratic -- a model to the rest of the region. Sadly I fear that if Nabila Ramdani’s hatred of those who helped rid her of Gaddafy is a benchmark, my utopian vision will not be realised.
Related article:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9077386/Al-Qaeda-leader-urges-Muslim-world-to-support-Syrian-uprising.html .


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