Charles Glass, a reporter with deep knowledge and experience in the Levant and author of the “excellent” (Chomsky) book Tribes With Flags, writes of Syria in The Intercept,
“Diplomacy is better than war, and the outside powers who have been using Syria to fight their proxy wars must agree in Geneva or Vienna that enough is enough. The U.S., Russia, Iran, Turkey, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have all played their parts in destroying Syria. It is up to them to end this war that has cost as many as 310,000 lives. No one is winning. No one can win. They provide their clients with the means to fight the war. And they can cut them off.
The question since March 2011, when the first protests began in Syria, is what to do with President Bashar al-Assad. The reason the West, Saudi Arabia, and Israel wanted to dispose of him had nothing to do with dictatorship or repression. Nearly all Arab governments are repressive dictatorships, but only Syria was not a U.S. satellite. Only Syria had a strategic alliance with Iran, dating to Hafez al-Assad’s decision to support Iran against Saddam Hussein in 1980, long before the West declared him a pariah. Syria supported Hezbollah in Lebanon, where it repelled Israel’s invasion in 2006. And the U.S. still had a score to settle with Hezbollah, which turned out to have staged the bombing of the Marines in 1983 and to have kidnapped American citizens like myself in the years that followed.”
My only caution in relation to his analysis is to note that it has never been clear to me that Washington aimed for the overthrow of Assad. If only for pragmatic reasons, it seems to me that the White House has instead favored a policy of stalemate – resulting of course in a cruel waste of life.
Glass quotes a friend in Aleppo who told him that “You [that is, the West] have sent hell to us.” An acknowledgment that the jihadi threat was provoked and indirectly generated by the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the approach to Syria held by the U.S. and its allies since.