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West must enforce ceasefire in Syria

Everyone will admire the way Turkey has taken in and helped so many refugees from Syria and it should receive support from other countries for doing this, as President Erdogan says.

The question of how to bring peace to Syria is a different matter. Mr Erdogan argues that “to give Syria’s democracy a chance to flourish” we must defeat Syria’s President Assad, as welll as IS. That assertion has become something of a dogma among the Western and Gulf powers also. I have never seen any serious debate about the question as to why, given the overwhelming need to end this terrible war, Assad cannot take part in elections, leaving his fate in the hands of the Syrian people. Of course, people say he is a monster (which has seldom stopped anyone having good relations with the West), but he has significant support in Syria and cannot be overthrown, except by war or extrajudicial assassination. IS can destroyed. Assad cannot be destroyed without also causing massive death and destruction in Syria, with a high risk of creating yet another failed state.

The way to peace in Syria is to enforce a ceasefire between Assad and moderate rebels and destroy IS. That is a realistic proposition. Then have elections. In so far as possible, there should be justice, peace, and reconciliation. Then, there should be a Marshall Plan for Syria, led by America and Europe, with massive contributions from the Gulf States. David Cameron has said ‘there has to be a Third Way’ in Syria. After over five years of war, surely it is clear there is no Third Way.

Brendan O’Brien

33 Arundel Gardens

London N21 3AG


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