March 15 marks the anniversary of the beginning of anti-government protests in Syria in 2011, which subsequently turned into violent clashes between various opposition groups and the security forces. The conflict was further aggravated by the activities of various terrorist groups, including the Islamic State (ISIS, terror group banned in Russia) on the Syrian territory. According to the UN estimates, around 500,000 people have been killed since the violence broke out.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, if the West and the Gulf countries had not given such massive support to what were, in effect, proxy jihadi armies, the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad government could have contained the conflict, just as the 1980 conflict with the Muslim Brothers was contained… The provision of weapons by the West and money by the Gulf prevented that happening and prolonged the agony… The military conflict, meaning essentially Idlib, may be over within two years but the Western war on Syria will simply continue by other means, notably economic war, information warfare and law-fare," Ford said on Thursday.
If the West and the Arab Gulf states had stayed outside the conflict, it would have ended "inside a year," saving hundreds of thousands of lives, Ford pointed out.
The administration of ex-US President Barack Obama and its allies behaved with extraordinary irresponsibility in funneling huge amounts of weapons and other resources to what were clearly ultra-violent Islamist extremist terrorist groups, Ford recalled.
"It was criminally negligent for the US to supply weapons and training to often bloodthirsty jihadis. The US simply prioritized removing Assad over all other considerations, including the fight against al-Qaeda [terror group banned in Russia] and ISIS," Ford argued.
The administration of US President Donald Trump, who succeeded Obama, had finally decided to stop the US "train and equip" program in Syria because the officials saw it was feeding Islamist extremists, not discouraging them, Ford explained.
"I think they probably realized belatedly that not only was the program not working in terms of defeating Assad but it was also backfiring in terms of encouraging extremism.
Ford foresaw that the current military conflict was likely to finally end within the next year or two. However, he also cautioned that the United States and its allies would continue their efforts to try and destabilize and topple the Damascus government by other means.
Ford was the UK’s ambassador in Syria and Bahrain before joining the United Nations to work on refugee issues. He is the co-chairman of the British Syrian Society.
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*Daesh (aka IS/ISIS/Islamic State) is a terror group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.