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If you were Assad

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Curiously, the alternative plan to giving Assad safe refuge in Putin's Russia – killing him with a drone and doing a deal with one of his army chiefs – hasn't occurred to anybody in the West (apart from the writers of Homeland), says Bob Ellis

IT'S LIKELY, I think, that historians reviewing this year in Syria and what the West is planning to do there, will find us even stupider than Jerry Bremer when he sacked the entire Iraqi civil service and cancelled their pensions and sacked the entire Iraqi army and let them keep their weapons.

What the West is currently planning is a total war on ISIS and a “political solution” to Assad, some sort of arrangement by which he shuffles, over time, out of power.

The total war on ISIS will involve the killing of hundreds of thousands of young Sunnis who will not, under our “training”, fight for the Shi-ites in Iraq and Syria and Iran and Lebanon, the selfsame Shi-ites who have killed half a million of them and sent 3 million of them into exile. The political solution to Assad will involve persuading him to surrender power to the “moderate opposition” of whom, with gas, bullets, torture and air bombing, he has lately killed 200,000 men, women and children. We must persuade him to leave the country, taking billions in wealth with him and live in Russia where he will be perfectly safe.

He will trust us, we are sure, to guarantee his safety in a dacha (or a palace) in Putin’s Russia. Though 20 million Syrians want him dead, he will trust us to guarantee his perfect safety for the next, oh, 40 years.

If you were Assad, would you agree to this?

Curiously, the alternative plan, of killing Assad with a drone and doing a deal with one of his army chiefs has not occurred to anybody in the West (apart from the writers of Homeland), though they daily go after the ISIS leadership with drones and fighter bombers and every month proclaim they have scored a direct hit, a “decapitation” of the Great Beast of Revelation, or whatever nickname he currently groans under.

Why do they not do this to Assad? Why does he have license to kill, in hundreds of thousands, his own people, and no-one else in the region or in the world?

It is likely he has killed ten times as many Syrians as ISIS. It is certain he has displaced 11 million of them. These numbers outscore, in 5 years, 20 years of Saddam Hussein. Why should he not be punished for this?

It seems we have a reverence for dynastic power. The Sauds, the Al-Assads, the Ganhdis, the Ghelph-Battenbergs, the Bhuttos, the Bushes, the Kennedys we accord forgiveness that we do not give the rabble who rise against them. Hitler’s lieutenants we executed. Kaiser Wilhelm we awarded a prosperous retirement.

Why is Assad immune from punishment? The usual punishment we impose on a mass murderer? Milošević wasn’t. Pol Pot wasn’t. Is it because his power is dynastic we are going easy on him, and on the Sauds, who, in any week, behead more innocents than ISIS in a month?

Just asking.

Historians, at any rate, will think us demented, for the delusionary way we are planning our “strategy” now, after the emptying of Syria into Europe and the alliance of Putin, the Ayatollahs and Assad.

And we will see what we shall see.

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