‘Echoes of failure: West shot itself in the foot over Syria’
Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the UK and the country's ex-Deputy Foreign Minister, accused the West of failure in Syria in response to a question from RT Deutsch.
He said Western governments had no real plan how to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad when they were calling for his removal.
RT: What do you think of Ischinger's comments that the West has “shot itself in the foot” over Syria by insisting Assad goes but without having a proper plan for his removal?
Richard Becker: They are the echoes of failure. The West, in particular, the US, British, French governments, the Turkish government, the Saudi government and others, they were all confident in summer 2011 the Assad-led government would fall. They said so over and over again. They said it was just a matter of time. It didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen because the government has retained a very solid base of support within the population of Syria. Even before it was getting assistance from outside, it was somewhat able to stabilize the situation under very difficult circumstances. But the idea that the West did not intervene enough, that Turkey didn’t intervene enough, Britain, France, the US, and Qatar, and other Gulf monarchies - supposedly in the name of the democracy, I would add parenthetically - didn’t do enough is just a ridiculous statement. They did a great deal to try to bring down the government; to destroy Syria in the way they destroyed Libya. That intervention is really unforgivable.
RT: The West has repeatedly insisted that Assad must go, but did Western leaders ever have a serious plan to remove Assad?
RB: They believe that what they were doing, in their towering imperial arrogance, and you can hear it in the voices [of some leaders.] They were quite confident that they were succeeding; that all of the foreign fighters going in through Turkey, all the weaponry that was coming in from Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, all the training and weaponry that was coming directly from the CIA – from the US, from the former colonizers of the region – Britain and France. The idea that they didn’t do anything, they didn’t have an effective plan – they believed that they were going to succeed.
They believed the government and state in Syria was going to collapse under all of their pressure, and that was a great deal of pressure. But because of the Iraq war particularly the US was not in a position, Obama did not believe, he was not in a position to launch an all-out war against Syria, to send in ground troops, or even to establish a no-fly zone, although, he came very close to that in September 2013. Again, they were quite confident that their very energetic efforts were going to bring down the government, and they failed.
RT: Officials have insisted coalition operations were conducted with great care, so as not to cause civilian casualties. However, we've seen a lot of civilian casualties after US-led coalition air strikes. What can we read into that?
RB: They always claim that. They have been claiming it for decades now – all the way back to the Vietnam War. In Iraq it was all precision weaponry, and it wasn’t, and it isn’t, and it really can’t be. Many of the attacks were directly on civilian areas, and the airstrikes that were carried out in many, many parts of Syria inflicted a great deal of death and destruction, and you would think from the Western media reports, that all the causalities in Syria have been at the hands of the Syrian government. In fact, that is very, very far from true. It is not that the Syrian government hasn’t its army, hasn’t also inflicted some civilian causalities, there is no question about that. But probably a quarter of all the deaths in Syria have been Syrian Arab Army causalities.
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