Disputes in the Arab world are none of our business
Perhaps I've been working too hard but I have this vision of our Prime Minister, David Cameron, sitting in the Kasbah, wearing a red fez, puffing away on a hubble-bubble pipe, dreaming up another "foreign masterstroke". There's trouble wafting our way again.
The UK's foreign policy in the Middle East has been a hopeless failure for many years, with all Britons paying for it, some with their lives or their limbs. We toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan (a good thing) but then tried to "civilise" the place, when the Afghans just wanted us to go home. We invaded Iraq and left it in chaos. We helped revolutions in Libya and Egypt and drooled over the Arab Spring, which is now soaking away into the burning desert sand.
And now Mr Cameron has announced that he wants to take action on behalf of the rebels in Syria as if it's Star Wars and it's the plucky little good guys against the might of the evil Empire. It isn't Star Wars. This is petrol onto a fire and is quite mad. The biggest Jihadi group in Syria (the rebels) has now formally announced its loyalty to al Qaeda, and our Prime Minister wants to go to war on behalf of a group dominated by such people. We are meant to be at war with al Qaeda not with the Syrian Government. Whatever he's smoking must be good stuff. I'll have some myself.
The West simply doesn't understand the Arab countries. They might be Muslim but that's where it stops. The Sunni hate the Shia; the Shia hate the Sunni. For two thousand years the place has been a hotbed of war, tribalism, and religion, of Romans, Persians, Christians, Jews, of Sunni and Shia and the Islamic spin-offs such as Druze and Alawites, many of whom settled in Syria. If you recall the story of Sinan, the "Old Man of the Mountains", an Ismaili, he led the Assassins, a fanatical group of "suicide killers" operating from a remote castle high in the hills, and it was his movement that terrified Shia and Sunni leaders for centuries. Even the great Saladin was forced to receive visitors whilst seated inside a metal cage for fear of assassination.
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The strife in Syria is a "proxy" war. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Turks (the Sunni) are backing the rebels. Iran (the Shia) is backing President Assad. Sunni against Shia, the old story. And it's none of our business, not even humanitarian aid. The Gulf States are bloated with oil-wealth and can easily provide refugee camps if they want. Instead they are pouring weapons into the country, and now the West is getting involved too. This civil war is none of our business.
Mr Cameron, currently transported by his hubble-bubble, does not realise that military power must be used sparingly and surgically, not just to impose our values on other societies. This is Nanny-State with machine-gun slung round her neck and grenade in teeth. We are heading for big trouble down Syria way.