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Did the West really 'lose' in Syria?

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‘We lost the war in Syria. What next?’ is the title of an article recently published by the brand-new online media outlet Tortoise, set up by former Times editor James Harding. The premise of the piece, written by Giles Whittell, a former chief leader writer of the Times, is that “we”, ie “the West” lost and that we should all be terribly upset about it. It’s a premise that needs to be challenged.

In so doing, there is no attempt to minimize or deny the fact that all sides in the conflict have much blood on their hands. In 2011, many Syrians had legitimate grievances against their government and in particular against the brutality and unaccountability of the state security services (Mukhabarat). The authorities cracked down hard on dissent, but it is also true that outside powers hostile to Syria did their very best, or rather worst, to inflame the situation. They had no interest in political compromises being made, and encouraging dialogue between government and opposition, but wanted to embroil Syria in full-scale war to suit their geopolitical agenda.

The Syrian government did, to its credit, enact democratizing measures. The 2012 constitution, endorsed overwhelmingly in a national referendum, ended the Baath Party’s forty-year monopoly on political power. Assad also signaled an end to neo-liberal reforms which had resulted in increased inequality and which caused widespread resentment.

But it became clear that nothing they did, short of total surrender, would appease the increasingly salafist-jihadist-dominated armed uprising.

Despite the ample evidence that the so-called ’rebel’ groups the Western governments and their regional allies were backing with weaponry and funding, were only minor players compared to the hardcore sectarian extremists, the drive to topple the Syrian government, which protected Christians and other religious minorities, intensified.


© RT.com