While thousands of ISIS Sunni extremists are engaged in a determined attempt to reach Baghdad, leaving a trail of carnage in the process, Tony Blair remains resolute in claiming that there is no connection between this and the hell in which Iraq has been plunged, even more than a decade since the 2003 onset of the war which he and former US President George W Bush unleashed. As someone averred among the avalanche of Tweets sent excoriating the former prime minister over his recent denials, this is about as serious as claiming there is no connection between him having sex with his wife and the existence of his children.
Blair cuts an increasingly isolated figure, which for a man obsessed with establishing a legacy in the Churchillian mode, not even the tens of millions of pounds he’s amassed since leaving Downing Street in 2007 can ever hope to compensate. Former friends and political allies have deserted him now; and in response to his latest public appearance, more than a few have taken the opportunity to stick the boot in. Perhaps the sentiments of London Mayor Boris Johnson came closest to describing the extent to which Blair is now considered a political pariah in Britain, when he described him as “mad.”
When it comes to the region, it is time for the West – in particular, the US and the UK – to abandon their nonsensical policy of supporting the opposition in Syria and instead acknowledge that the government of Bashar al-Assad is playing a key role in stemming the flood of Sunni extremism and has been over the last three years. In fact, without the resilience of the Syrian Arab Army the region would have been plunged into even more chaos and destruction than it is at present. For three years, the Syrian government, the Syrian people, army and allies have stood against this de facto Islamic Khmer Rouge in Syria otherwise known as ISIS (ISIL), an organization and ideology so beyond the pale that its defeat and destruction is absolutely vital.
Yet, as recently as the beginning of May, the British government announced its decision to resume the provision of “non-lethal” aid to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the form of laptops, communications equipment, vehicles and medical supplies. Surely this has to count as an act of insanity on the part of Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who pushed for this resumption of aid to the “moderate” Syrian opposition?
Firstly, the FSA – as a significant factor in the Syrian conflict – no longer exists. Secondly, how does atrocities committed by the FSA in Syria (most infamously the filming of the cutting open of a dead Syrian soldier and removal of his internal organs by an FSA commander in 2013, which was then posted online) qualify them as moderate in any meaningful sense? Thirdly, how would it profit the Syrian people and, with the spreading of the crisis to Iraq, the region as a whole if the current Syrian government is toppled?
It doesn’t take a genius of strategic thinking to work out that if there ever was a moderate opposition in Syria there no longer is, and that the only effective forces in the region currently able to take on these medieval extremists are the Syrian Arab Army, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah. Without them the entire Arab world would be dragged into hell without a way out, which is why the West must as a matter of urgency reorient its policy accordingly.