Syria – war and diplomacy


Sir, – Ronan L Tynan (April 19th) says that Jeremy Corbyn has never “specifically” called for “the implementation of policies to protect civilians” in Syria. However, the Labour leader has consistently demanded that the UK government use its influence to encourage a negotiated and peaceful end to the war. If this had been the strong UK position since 2011, who knows where Syria would be now? Certainly no worse off than it is today.

The elephant in the room is that the war is already effectively over. Bashar al-Assad, Russia and Iran have won. The best way that the West can help the people of Syria is to accept that fact.

We might then use our influence, such as it is, to encourage the victors to display some magnanimity towards the vanquished.

One way western countries could do this is to engage immediately and energetically with Damascus and robustly to demand as equitable a postwar settlement as possible – one that includes the safe return of refugees.

Western governments should explicitly link help – that will be vital for rebuilding the shattered country – to the regime’s decent conduct towards the various losing parties.

Jeremy Corbyn has called for a halt to the “rhetoric of endless confrontation”. He says that this would “make a UN consensus for multilateral action to end Syria’s agony more likely”.

Maybe President Assad is such an “animal”, as Donald Trump says, that any kind of reasonable settlement with Damascus is impossible. But I doubt it.

Mr Corbyn’s more conciliatory but also more realistic approach stands a far greater chance of success than the token and self-serving missile strikes we saw last weekend; or any amount of “formal” (in other words condescending and bellicose) protests to Russia and Syria about their undoubtedly brutal conduct of a long, bitter civil war. – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – It is quite astounding that the genocidal Syrian regime, propped up by Russia and Iran, should escape the wrath of the political left in Ireland, Britain and Europe. It seems that political myopia, as was the case in the not-too-distant past, continues to blind the left once Russia and its allies are accused of perpetrating gross violations of international criminal law, as is evidently the case in Syria at present.

The indivisibility of human rights demands that the international community cannot ignore human rights violations committed by any shade of the political spectrum.

It is to the shame of the political left that it continues to be equivocal in the face of the most hideous violations of human rights being perpetrated on the Syrian civilian population. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.