SERIOUS ABOUT SYRIA? by Donal Kennedy


The IRISH TIMES (March 18) in a portentous and pretentious IRISH TIMES VIEW appears to want to dismember Syria. Perhaps its reasons are locked under oathbound secrecy in its Trustees, established by the untrustworthy British Fixer, the late Arnold Goodman.

If THE TIMES of London favours the dismemberment of Syria, it may have a more obvious motive. Most of what I write below has been culled from SYRIA – A Recent History, by John McHugo, published in 2015. Which I came upon a few days ago.

“In 2013, Israel granted a company in which Rupert Murdoch and a member of the Rothschild family are shareholders a licence to explore for hydrocarbons on the Golan Heights.”

The Golan Heights and any hydrocarbons there belong to Syria, And according to International Law they are illegally occupied by Israel.

Rupert Murdoch’s papers are heavily involved in the lying campaign to tar Jeremy Corbyn with anti Semitism. I suppose robbing a country of its territory and assets and robbing a man of his good name
are equally ethical.

The victors of the First World War, which they themselves had long planned for, inflicted misery on the world. They humiliated Germany, and through enforced starvation extracted a false confession of
 blame for it. They established “nations” which had neither a past nor a future. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. And they refused a hearing to one of Europe’s oldest nations, Ireland, which had just,
 in an election “recognised on all sides as a Plebiscite” according to THE TIMES, exercised the right to self-determination, which the Allies had professed to have adopted.

The winners set up the League of Nations with a solemn Covenant, supposedly equally binding on all members. But some, in Orwell’s phrase, were more equal than others.

France and Britain awarded themselves Mandates in territories wrested from the Ottomans. Under Article 22 of the League Covenant, they accepted “a sacred trust for civilisation”  for the “well-being and development” of peoples under a Mandate.The borders of the mandates were not established by the peoples living under them, nor were they consulted.

The tutelage of what was deemed to be Syria (after an arbitrary line was drawn on a map by Mark Sykes and Francois Picot)  and of what was deemed Lebanon were entrusted to France. And both territories were deemed –

“to have reached a stage of development where their existence as nations can be provisionally recognised  subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such
time as they are able to stand alone.”

The League of Nations had a Mandate’s Commission, but it had little power to hold the Mandated power to account. The wishes of the people under a Mandate were meant to be ” a principle consideration been disregarded.”

The French did nothing  for those they were meant to help. Most of the money they spent in the mandated territories were used for the upkeep of French Imperial troops from Senegal, Algeria and Morocco. The French exploited sectarian divisions, unaware that Arabic speaking peoples, Christian and Moslem prided themselves in common culture and generally got on with each others and with long established Jews in their midst. Conservative French Governments and ultra Catholic Officers favoured the Maronite Christians in Lebanon and fancied themselves as modern Crusaders. Leftwing French Governments indulged in anti-religious prejudice. getting up the noses of those of all faiths.

They used excessive force to put down any opposition, using artillery and air-bombardment on densely populated cities in the mid 1920s on at least the scale the Germans used on Guernica a dozen years later.

The Syrian Governments led by Hafez al-Assad and his son, Bashar al-Assad  have followed the French practice of crushing revolt. But their record of abolishing illiteracy, bringing piped water, and electricity to most of the people since 1970 is a creditable one.  None of their competitors have anything to offer their people but division fanatical bigotry, and subservience to their foreign enemies.


The other side of the Sykes/Picot line which divided Greater Syria is Iraq, which  was mandated to Britain. Britain “policed” Iraq feom the skies, machine-gunning villagers or dropping bombs on them in the 1920s, a habit they have not got out of. Iraq has oil, and the Brits got a better bargain than the French. 

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