Would the last insurgent in Homs please turn out the light?

The Syrian insurgents don’t take my advice.  I don’t expect them to, but all the same I’m disappointed.  Two years ago I told them to disengage and up their game rather than bash their heads against Assad’s heavy artillery.  They didn’t.  In Homs they stood their ground like brave idiots for two years and today they started to file out of the wreckage n a UN brokered surrender.

They could have exfiltrated or surrendered two years ago and achieved the same result.  The population of Homs might have rebuilt their homes and lives by now if the insurgents had known when to give up.

My first blog for this site was on the ethics of fighting or surrendering in Homs, and that was after a month of slaughter.  That they fought on while the Assad regime destroyed the city around their ears speaks well for their physical courage.  It was, however, unsoldierly and immoral.

The insurgents kept fighting; the regime has gone on killing.  The competition for the winners of this civil war is between the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Quds Force for keeping Assad in the big chair and the Sunni Islamist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, for running much of the northeast of the country while Ducky Assad has been holed up in Damascus.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, would have had an honourable mention for speaking harsh truths about Syria; but he’s been spouting nonsense about Ukraine lately so he’s lost credibility.

Why is this important? It’s important because the way NATO destroyed the Ghaddafi regime emboldened Syrian protesters and inspired people to take up arms against the Assad regime.  Western perfidy in promising Russia and China that Ghaddafi wouldn’t be overthrown made Russia inflexible over Syria.

Western countries assisted the Syrian rebels, pretended that they were about to send Assad packing.  Western countries pretended for months that Assad was about to topple, when it was apparent to many analysts that he was about to do no such thing.

For two years the quickest way to peace and stability in Syria was to switch off the insurgency, let Assad grip the country, and figure out a reliable way to get rid of him.  Instead the West has insisted that Assad put his head into a noose as a precondition for negotiation.

In Britain we look forward to our boys who went off to fight alongside their fellow-Islamists coming home radicalised, traumatised and trained to kill.

Syria has been a huge Western foreign policy failure.  This hasn’t been an American-led failure either.  In Libya and in Syria the US has been pretty clear that the rest of NATO had to take responsibility for adventures against states on Europe’s southern flank.  This is a failure that we the rest of NATO have to own.

The only bright light in all this is that the al-Nusra Front is fighting with its Islamist brethren in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  The battle-hardened heart-eating fanatics on each side have my blessing to kill each other as much as they like.

About the Author
Dr Lynette Nusbacher is a strategist and devil's advocate. She is Principal at Nusbacher & Associates, a strategy consultancy. She has been a senior national security official in the United Kingdom, was Senior Lecturer in War Studies at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and served as a military intelligence officer.