- Assad is a tyrant
- Two years ago, Boris Johnson was praising him for pushing back ISIS
- Missile strikes probably illegal under international law
- ISIS used the weekend’s US, UK and French missile attacks to launch new assault
The government ordered missile attacks against Syria last weekend – hitting facilities that appear, from the reaction of US journalists visiting the ruins, to have contained no chemical weapons.
The justification for the rush to do so without consulting Parliament was the urgent ‘humanitarian’ need to ‘do something’ to degrade Syrian President Assad’s alleged chemical weapons capabilities – and the media have, for the most part, fallen into line. Politicians and pundits alike have condemned Assad’s tyranny.
But no so very long ago, Tories who are now prominent in justifying the attack were happy to have the tyrant in power, as Evolve‘s Matt Turner pointed out on Twitter:
Johnson told the Telegraph:
I suppose it is bizarre to feel such joy at the military success of one of the vilest regimes on earth. But I cannot conceal my elation as the news comes in from Palmyra and it is reported that the Syrian army is genuinely back in control of the entire Unesco site.
There may be booby traps in the ruins, but the terrorists are at last on the run. Hooray, I say. Bravo – and keep going. Yes, I know. Assad is a monster, a dictator. He barrel-bombs his own people. His jails are full of tortured opponents. He and his father ruled for generations by the application of terror and violence – and yet there are at least two reasons why any sane person should feel a sense of satisfaction at what Assad’s troops have accomplished.
The first is that no matter how repulsive the Assad regime may be – and it is – their opponents in Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) are far, far worse.
Johnson was not, when he wrote this article in 2016, in ignorance of the depravities of Assad’s government. He acknowledged the use of barrel bombs and torture – yet was still chuffed “at what Assad’s troops have accomplished”.
You’d almost think Tory politicians change opinions whenever it’s convenient.
The former head of UK forces in Iraq was cut off last week by Sky News just as he began to tell viewers of his scepticism that Assad would use chemical weapons in Douma and risk Western intervention when he’s effectively already won the war.
Yet the Tories bypassed Parliament to rush to military action in the wake of a US president who appears to be trying to distract from his own investigation for potential treason.
Assad may be the monster he is accused of being – but he was not threatening the UK, so military action without UN approval is, as Jeremy Corbyn said at the weekend, of questionable legality under international law.
Yet the Tories rushed into it – coincidentally providing cover for a major ISIS offensive against Syrian government forces:
Could the Tories have been eager for a distraction of their own – even if it meant (yet another) u-turn on a monster whose success against ISIS they were happy about a couple of years ago?
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