Stop The World I Want To Get Off
This week on Facebook: Stop The World I Want To Get Off is a musical set against the backdrop of a circus, the show focuses on Littlechap, from the moment of his birth to his death. Each time something unsatisfactory happens, he calls out ‘Stop the world!’ and addresses the audience. In a week ending with the result of the UK referendum on membership of the EU (Brexit) a post on Syria is hardly like to excite an audience. Nevertheless my attention was caught by Monday’s article suggesting that Sykes-Picot agreement was not responsible for shaping the future of the Middle-East, following which I decided to devote this week on Facebook to Syria. Relying on the modern media for information and especially the social media, which seems to feed on unsatisfactory outcomes, encouraged me to see the world as a circus and myself as Littlechap.
Monday: Sykes-Picot: The Centenary of A Deal That Did Not Shape the Middle East — It is difficult to single out Sykes and Picot for condemnation. It is their legacy to have their names become a cypher for all the perceived ills of colonial and post-colonial intervention in the Middle East, from the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war to the current disintegration of Syria.
Tuesday: Review of Charles Glass’s “Syria Burning: A Short History of a Catastrophe” — The new edition of Syria Burning has a helpful chronology tracking events from 2011-2015. And in a chapter fittingly titled, “With Friends Like These,” Glass offers a brief but necessary look at the country’s past, damaged by colonial rulers, including the infamous Sykes-Picot secret treaty, home-grown dictators, Israel’s conquest of the Golan Heights, and its latest disintegration beginning in 2011, when the citizens of Dera organized a peaceful demonstration against the local government’s torture of teenagers for daring to paint anti-government graffiti on walls and Assad’s forces responded violently.
Wednesday: Putin’s plan for Syria — Over the years of Nato expansion and western-backed regime change in the Middle East (and, as most Russians see it, in Ukraine), anti-Americanism in Russian state media has become feverish. Over Syria, in which the west has taken part in a civil war without having decided which side it wants to win, the tone towards America has shifted and become, at times, pitying. Margarita Simony, Editor-in-Chief of the Russian English-language, television news network RT and the state-owned international news agency Rossiya Segodnya, summed up the new attitude recently: “The eternal question is: do they have a far-reaching plan, which we don’t understand, or are they just making stupid mistakes because they’re not properly informed?”
Thursday: Don’t Call It a Proxy War — The new Russian battlefront just happened to be a territory in which American-led Western forces were already operating. The United States was also funding and supplying anti-Assad militias far removed from the theater of operations in which ISIS was functional. That was revealed to the world only when Russian forces targeted and destroyed the CIA-trained weapon depots that had supplied them.
Friday: Playing tic-tac-toe with Putin — In Syria, the West wants peace. But Putin needs victory. And so it will look like this: The secular, pro-Western opposition will be either decimated or forced to disarm as part of a US-Russian “peace process.” The West will be confronted with the repugnant choice between Assad and a combination of the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate. And so Assad’s regime will survive. Meanwhile, Russia will be restored to the Soviet Union’s position as an indispensable international player and key actor in the Middle East.
So where does the EU fit into all of this! Apart from supplying insurgents to ISIS, which must irritate both Russia and the USA — it doesn’t. It has no EU army, the only threat it can pose to both Russia and ISIS is through NATO. Whether or not you think the Sykes-Picot agreement was influential in the Middle East the world is now dominated by military super powers that are external to Europe. The EU can only bluster about world events — as in the Ukraine — and following its referendum result to leave the EU the UK must court the USA by lying back whilst thinking I know not what.
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