Let’ take a look back at 2013 and remind our selves of the situation and context in which the August 21st gas attack at Ghouta, Syria took place and see if you agree with George Osborne.
The opposition were struggling quite badly during early-mid 2013. Islamist factions such as Jabhat al Nusrah, Ahrar al sham, IS (The Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant as it was then) and Chechen groups from the Caucasus, well schooled in guerrilla combat were all deemed to be the most dominant / effective fighting groups among the opposition to Assad.
IS command for example consists of former high level military commanders and chiefs of Saddam’s Baath Party regime. They have proven to be very effective both in military planning, tactics and combat both in Iraq and Syria.
President Assad’s Syrian Arab Army had capitalised on infighting between rebels and fundamentalist Islamic groups, the tide had turned some what with the help of Hezbollah, Shi’a militias and Iranians on the ground with Russia maintaining steady weapons supply to Syria.
Then just as chemical weapons inspectors landed three days earlier, the chemical attack took place in Ghouta and immediately blamed on the Assad regime with massive main stream media coverage. Little was mentioned however regarding the alleged gas attack by opposition groups in Khan al Assal a few months previously however.
Below are reports following the few weeks and months after the chemical attack in Ghouta:
In summary I don’t think George Osborne is correct.
The advances made and reputation of fundamentalist groups was already clear by this time. If we had intervened in the Syrian conflict I think we would have opened up the situation for fundamentalist groups to capitalise.
Well funded and supported by Arab Countries, they would have taken control of Syria and filled the inevitable vacuum created as seen previously in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya particularly. Much more than airstrikes would be required to correct this.
I also think we would have seen what we see now – large amounts of refugees from Syria but at the end of 2013 and into 2014 instead of now in 2015. Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon have all complained for some time about the amount of refugees they were having to take in.
I’m not convinced that President Assad would order the launch of a chemical attack in Damascus knowing the UN weapons inspectors had just arrived and with the West clearly itching for an intervention. He may be bad but he isn’t stupid.
I think the west pushed for intervention following the well-timed attack partly, if not mostly because the opposition were struggling badly at the time.
So is George Osborne seeking to gain traction from the public on a new intervention in Syria?
Just backing David Cameron and following the party line?
Pandering to the rightful public sympathy of refugees from war ravaged countries?
All of the above?
Who knows. I’m sure he is well aware of the information I have linked above though.