2 Responses

  1. Watching your very interesting presentation. Very informative. I recently wrote about how the new revolutions in the region could inevitably bring Israel and Iran together over events in Syria.
    link to al-monitor.com

    Best regards,
    Meir Javedanfar

  2. Very informative, thank you, Prof Cole.

    Interesting that you dismiss the Russian warm water naval port at Tartus in Syria as fairly insignificant in itself – I’d always assumed it was a permanent strategic interest for them. As for the British, I think you overstate how eager they are to get involved, but I sense we are now committing to a course of intervention (based on the change of language from Wm. Hague.) T.Blair, who is more influential abroad than in the UK, has fwiw favoured intervention for some time.

    My impression is that getting rid of the Assad regime is not in itself a worthy strategic aim. The tricky part is getting to a stable, coherent government with sufficiency of public support to replace it. If this existed, probably Assad would already be gone. Worst outcome, interminable war between an ever-shifting multiplicity of groups. (This the best justification for dictators, be it Tito, Saddam or Assad – the Hobbesian defence of kings.)

    For worst worst outcome, compare Europe 1618-48: war goes regional; as weapons and fighters migrate from country to country, (Iraq, the Kurdish regions, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine / Israel, Iran) the devastation of war creating famine and refugees, the uprooted becoming fighters in turn; in interminable war, war itself becoming the chief economic activity, replacing all others; the money flowing in from Saudia Arabia et al, Iran, Russia, the US……

    Good to see Cameron and Putin in discussion. Hopefully, Russia on the one hand, and US/Uk/France on the other, will take a concerted line, the West respecting the Russian interest. Wm. Hagues’s strong argument AGAINST EU aid to the rebels was always that if we aided the rebels, the Russians would aid the regime, and rather than producing a quicker outcome (the chief desideratum), the war would continue to continue, but with larger and bloodier weapons. 18 months later…

    I can’t now see that Russian and Western interests are incompatible. Putin is not wedded to Assad’s regime, and has a better chance (than France or the UK)of brokering an orderly transition if, as seems unlikely, that is possible.

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