Saturday March 17, 2018
It was seven years ago this week that the conflict in Syria began. How might it have developed without the negative role played by Western powers and their regional allies?
Beware the Ides of March, the old saying goes. The 15th of March down the ages has seen not only the assassination of Julius Caesar and the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia; it was also the day, in 2011, that the conflict in Syria began.
According to the standard narrative, it was the intransigence and brutality of the Assad government (always referred to as a ‘regime’) that plunged Syria into chaos. But while it’s true that there was genuine discontent with the government for a number of valid reasons seven years ago, the divisions within Syria could have been overcome without much bloodshed, had certain countries not worked to sabotage any peaceful solutions to the crisis.
Faced with a direct threat to its rule, the Assad government showed it was willing to make compromises. As early as March 26, 2011, the BBC was reporting that the government had released more than 200 political prisoners. There were also amnesties announced in May and June.
Not only that but important political changes were introduced as Assad acknowledged in a televised address that demands for reform were legitimate.