07:27 GMT +322 August 2019
Listen Live
    Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

    British Criticism of Russian Airstrikes Reveals Double Standards Over Syria

    © AFP 2019 / Stefan Wermuth
    Middle East
    Get short URL
    Russia Versus ISIL in Syria (618)

    Following Saudi criticism over the alleged civilian impact of Russian anti-jihadist airstrikes in Syria, the UK is the latest country at risk of being accused of hypocrisy, with Foreign Minister Philip Hammond saying Moscow's involvement in Syria is likely to drive locals into the arms of ISIL.

    After news broke of Russia's military intervention in Syria, which was carried out upon the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, many western officials and their allies issued statements of caution and condemnation of Moscow's actions. 

    Among those was the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, who demanded that Russia halt its airstrikes in the country amid accusations that a "number of innocent victims have been killed".

    Many quipped that such accusations were rich coming from Riyadh, whose forces are currently accused of being responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in both Syria and Yemen.

    British foreign minister Philip Hammond echoed the Saudi statements, saying that while the UK would welcome Russian involvement in Syria, it would not support Russian attacks on groups other than ISIL, accusing Moscow of attacking other anti-Assad groups merely to keep the Syrian leader in power.

    "The message we are trying to get across to the Russians — we are genuinely trying to explain this to the Russians — is that trying to prop up Assad as part of a counter ISIL strategy simply will not work," Hammond said.

    "Because all you will do is drive the entire opposition to Assad into a single camp, led by ISIL. That is the worst possible outcome."

    Russian officials rebuked the criticism, saying that the targeted organizations were "well-known" militant groups, including affiliates of terrorist group al-Qaeda, chosen "in coordination with the armed forces of Syria".

    Criticism Reflects Differing Views

    Hammond continued his criticism of the Russian airstrikes, accusing Moscow of engaging in "classic asymmetric warfare." Hammond said that Russia was using its anti-jihadist strikes as a cover to strengthen the position of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, through the targeting other anti-government forces.

    However, Russian officials have pointed out that they are merely acting within international law, after a request by the Syrian government to help out in the country's civil war — which western countries, acting in Syria, have not been granted.

    Moscow also countered western claims that Assad must not feature in any future Syria, arguing that it should be up to the Syrian people — not politicians of the West — to decide who controls the country.

    The inability of western figures and Moscow to come to an agreement over the situation in Syria has been seen as a product of the differing views on how to handle the crisis in the country.

    The UK's Grand Hypocrisy

    However, other than just highlighting a difference of opinion between London and Moscow, critics of the UK have accused the country of being highly hypocritical in its claim that Russian airstrikes will drive people into radicalization, subsequently bolstering groups like ISIL.

    Critics of the UK have pointed to the country's role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq — believed by many to be an illegal invasion — as a key moment that led to the long-term destabilization of the Middle East and helped create a power vacuum for ISIL to exploit. 

    Even more recently, the UK, as part of the US-led coalition of ISIL, has been accused of exacerbating the already enflamed situation, by arming and supporting so-called "moderate" Islamist rebels in Syria, instead of offering assistance to the Assad government.

    Western officials have refused to work with Assad and continuously called for his resignation over allegations Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons to crush rebel groups.

    Damascus denies the allegations, with commentators pointing out that many of the rebels trained and supported by the West ended up defecting to ISIL, along with any western weaponry they had with them.

    The critics have also noted out the year-long bombing campaign undertaken by Britain and the anti-ISIL coalition in Iraq and Syria has further splintered the conflict without halting ISIL, with claims that more people are likely to join jihadist groups as civilians are killed and injured.

    So, while British officials criticize Russian involvement in Syria, arguing that is it is driving people into the willing arms of terrorists, many have asked those in London to look into the mirror to see the damage caused by their own actions.

    Russia Versus ISIL in Syria (618)


    Free Syrian Army Command Asks Russia for Help Against ISIL
    Head for the Hills: 3,000 Islamist Militants Flee Advancing Syrian Army
    Cameron Urges Russia to Join US, UK in Anti-ISIL Coalition
    Daesh, airstrike, Western meddling, Intervention, anti-terrorist operation, hypocrisy, terrorist organization, militants, international law, civil war, conflict, war, Syrian crisis, Syrian government, Bashar al-Assad, Philip Hammond, Syria, Russia, United Kingdom
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik