Listen: Former UK ambassador to Syria says British government “has gotten Syria wrong every step of the way”

Nureddin Sabir, Editor, Redress Information & Analysis, writes:

A former UK ambassador to Syria has castigated officials and the media in Britain for their selective moralising and reporting of the armed conflict in Syria.

“There were no green buses in Gaza. There were no green buses after the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia”

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” programme on 23 December, Peter Ford, who served as British ambassador to Syria from 2003 to 2006, said:

Allow me to say that we’re very selective in our indignation about the Aleppo campaign. Similar bombing is going on in Mosul and in Yemen, and we gave people there a path. We didn’t talk about atrocities. We didn’t talk about war crimes, although they are indisputably being committed in both theatres. We didn’t talk about genocide or holocaust. We’d be lucky if these campaigns end with green buses [a reference to the buses provided by the Syrian government to evacuate rebels and their families from eastern Aleppo]. There were no green buses in Gaza. There were no green buses after the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia. I think we need to give the [Syrian] government a little bit of credit for what has been a relatively peaceful end to this terrible period…

What happened in Syria was “imminently foreseeable to anyone who was not intoxicated with wishful thinking”

Mr Ford said that in his judgement Britain should have “refrained from encouraging the opposition from mounting a doomed campaign which has only led to hundreds of thousands of civilians being maimed and killed. We have made the situation worse,” he said.

Replying to questions, Mr Ford said that his analysis of the situation in Syria now is not just wisdom gained with the benefit of hindsight. He said that five years ago he predicted precisely the outcome that has materialised. What has happened was “imminently foreseeable to anyone who was not intoxicated with wishful thinking,” he said.

“The British Foreign Office… has gotten Syria wrong every step of the way”

Mr Ford said that British policy towards the conflict in Syria had been ill-conceived and ill-thought-out.

The British Foreign Office, to which I used to belong, I am sorry to say has gotten Syria wrong every step of the way. They told us at the beginning that [President Bashar] Assad’s demise was imminent. They told us he’d be gone by Christmas – they didn’t say which Christmas… But then they told us the opposition was still dominated by the so-called “moderates”, which has proved not to be the case. Now they are telling us another big lie – that Assad can’t control the rest of the country. Well, I’ve got news for them: he’s well on the way to doing so.

Asked to comment on allegations that the Syrian government had committed war crimes because its forces had bombed hospitals, resulting in the death of many children, Mr Ford said:

It was also a war crime to use hospitals as command centres, which is what the jihadis did. It was also a war crime to use schools to store ammunition, which is what the jihadis did.

Peter Ford has shone a rare light on the lies, double standards and deceptions of the British government and the ignorance, bias and disinformation of the British media in respect of the conflict in Syria.

If you care about the truth in what is undoubtedly the cruellest and bloodiest conflict since World War II, then please spare ten minutes to listen to the full interview, a recording of which is below (please allow for a short pause after you click play).

The recording also features the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, who was interviewed in the same slot. One of a handful of courageous mainstream journalists, Mr Bowen knows better than most the cost of telling the truth in the British media.

 

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