Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Letters to the Editor of the Times published yesterday

Sir, Under Boris Johnson, the British “strategy” appears to be stop talking to the Russians, get them out of Syria, accept US intelligence reports at face value and persuade the G7 to unseat Assad and exclude him from future talks. What remains unclear is which of the many different, conflicted and, in many cases, jihadist-infected groups in Syria Britain will now back against Assad, and how it will cope with the increased instability between different Islamic sects. In 2006, every Muslim and Christian leader we spoke to, on a delegation visit there, warned us that without the liberalising, secular leadership of the Alawites, there would be factional chaos. This is what Isis and related groups exploited for their own ends.
The Rev Canon Robin Morrison
Pencoedtre, Barry

Sir, Boris Johnson lost a golden opportunity to become the first western leader to meet Sergei Lavrov after the chemical attack in Syria. He could then have gone on to apprise his counterparts at the G7 summit, thereby enhancing the UK’s diplomatic reputation. It is difficult to envisage that Winston Churchill, a man Boris greatly admires, would have behaved in the same way. The foreign secretary talks of “jaw-jaw” but balks at the first chance.
Sidney Hauswirth
London NW8

Sir, Alistair Burt’s regret that parliament prevented his government attacking the Assad regime in 2013 (letter, Apr 10) shows a staggering failure to learn from recent foreign policy mistakes. Jihadists were praying fervently that Britain and America would join the Syrian civil war in 2013. Had we made war on Assad, with no plan for jus post bellum, the chief beneficiary would have been al-Qaeda, whose forces were battling Assad at the time.
At the first Eastertime, the founder of Christianity warned that “those who live by the sword will die by the sword”. When will British policymakers learn that?
Dr Nick Megoran
Reader in political geography, Newcastle University


  1. "... liberalising, secular leadership of the Alawites..."? Good one. And without the bulwark provided by, yes, Herr Hitler, there would be no Bolshevik threat. Sigh!

    1. Oh not a Hitler analogy. When will the world stop this obsession with Hitler? Every day I see a dozen Hitler analogies.

      The Assad regime is very cruel and tyrannical, as so many regimes in the world have been and are. It is nasty but secular and a better bet for Christians than any other. outcome.

    2. "The problem for the US and its allies has always been that, for all their talk of political “transition” in Syria, the dominant force in armed opposition holding territory on the ground in Syria is IS and al Qaeda. If the present regime goes, then they are the only replacement, something that terrifies many Syrians who do not like Assad but fear the alternative as being even worse. In this respect, the plan of Hillary Clinton’s advisers during the presidential election campaign to raise a neutral military force capable of fighting Assad, IS and al Qaeda, all at the same time, was much less realistic than anything Mr Trump has proposed."

      Patrick Cockburn on Friday

      I hope the rebels make terms. Let's see if the USA helps this to happen.

  2. Sean Spicer started it! Anyway, an appropriate Hitler analogy from time to time is in order. We mustn't be PC about this.

  3. Hitler analogies are the fons et origo of P.C.